under the baobab tree

coffee breaks & exposures to africa, mostly

test entry


let the griot play

Quite many years passed since I wrote my first entry on this blog, I can not believe it! It is time again to slow down and find more time for writing, not to mention reading in this crazy, fragmented world of the social media. I have started to write real letters and a hard copy diary, and in the process I completely ignored blogging. Is it just me or has blogging gone out of fashion these days? Oh and as far as writing a diary in a notebook is concerned, believe me it has taken some time to get back to the habit of writing with a real pen. It feels almost a luxury.

I am preparing an exhibition for La Galérie Éthiopiques on traditional Senegalese rhythms, and I would like to document part of this process here. I am now looking for interesting written material about the role of the griot that could accompany the audio samples and other exhibition materials. So far I have been reading the following books, all very good sources to start with: Leymarie, Isabelle: Les griots wolof du Sénégal, Tang, Patricia: Masters of the Sabar and Papis Samba: Musique Sénégalaise, itinerancies et vibrations. If any of you people out there would like to suggest me further readings, please do! The exhibition will be centred around sound and instruments and joined with some audiovisual materials, but the more I manage to do research on the topic in advance the better!

aksum coffee house

Straight from the homeland of coffee, Aksum Coffee House is offering freshly roasted Ethiopian single origin coffee in a lovely surroundings in the heart of Les Marolles in Brussels. The refurbishing work is under way and the opening day is approaching. You are warmly welcome to have a taste of fresh Harar or Limu, or snacks, sweets and drinks out of Africa at Rue Haute 140, Brussels from 17 October 2010 on!

deserts, mountains and sacred cities

Eastern Ethiopia: deserts, mountains and sacred cities from 22 December 2010 to 4 January 2011 by Harmattan Tours.

Our Eastern Ethiopian tour includes the famous Ethiopian Orthodox shrines of Lalibela and the fascinating Muslim holy city of Harar – both Unesco world heritage sites – the savanna of Awash National Park, the rugged Lasta mountains and the surreal lunar landscape of the Danakil desert – an area characterized by superlatives and extremes.

Keep an eye on the Harmattan Tours website for upcoming exciting destinations!

time flies!

A year and a half seems to have passed since I last wrote an entry to this blog. I even needed to dig my username from under some dust to be able to come back and log in.

In the near future we are opening a coffee house that will also be a platform in which African artists and designers can exhibit their work, and there will be a specific blog to promote this. I will from here on share my blogging time between this blog and the new on the coffee house, so more stories on African topics will be on the menu again!

idrissa guiro: barcelone ou la mort

Barça ou Barzakh (Barcelone ou la mort, Barcelona or Death) is Idrissa Guiro’s first film and an eye-opener that shows the link between the massive overfishing by the EU fishing fleets in Senegal (and West Africa) and migration to Europe. The strength of this documentary is particularly in the fact that it shows what is behind the faceless figures of immigrants you read from the news; practically everyone for instance in Thiaroye-sur-Mer, where fishing used to be the main source of income, has a brother, father, uncle, or friend who risked their lives in hope of a future for himself and his extended family. Some of them manage to make it to Europe but many die on this trip, and yet new candidates keep trying despite the risks involved, in lack of better alternatives.

Keep an eye on this excellent documentary and go and see it if the opportunity arises!


Here is a short clip from Barça ou Barzakh in You Tube (in French)

More information on the impact of overfishing

donkey mobile library

Have you ever heard of donkey mobile library? If not, have a look at this inspiring clip from Awassa, Ethiopia, featuring Yohannes Gebregeorgis’ fantastic initiatives that help children in Ethiopia to have access to books also outside school. Gebregeorgis first opened  a children’s library at his own home and has now gone mobile in rural areas. This idea is worth disseminating widely! 

donkeys bearing gifts clip