|Dakar Artisan Expo, Dec '10|
|Saint Louis Artisan Expo, Jun '11|
Mamadou Dioum is a woodworker I met when I first arrived in Diourbel. The two volunteers before me both worked with him, so I basically inherited this partnership. Mamadou learned to work with wood from his father at the age of 8, as did his brothers and cousins. Wood carving has been in their family for generations and there continue to be young apprentices hanging around their workshop. This is a family that takes pride in what they do. Mamadou is in his late twenties and is trying to move the business forward. If you come to Senegal, you’ll see many similar wood artisans selling their products along the streets of Dakar, but Mamadou is trying to differentiate himself from the others. He works on new designs for the chairs and tables he creates, spends the time to do quality control, and experiments with new shapes and types of wood to make his bowls and plates more appealing. His traditional mortars and pestles, tam-tams, and djembes cater to the local market, but he also makes the small statues and masks popular with tourists.
|Djembes and Tam-Tam|
|A cousin at work|
|Mamadou's newest design|
|Chairs, tables, and fruit bowls|
|The next generation|
I think my host dad, Ibou, cringes every time I leave the compound to work with Mamadou because, by definition, woodworkers are contributing to the deforestation problems that plague this country. At the same time, however, he understands the importance of promoting traditional arts, and this is certainly one of them. Each piece of wood is maximized to make the most of it and the wood chips they create are gathered daily by neighborhood women who carry them away in buckets on their heads to use for cooking.
|Makes interlocking legs|
|One piece of wood|
|An Artisan Reseau Training Seminar (Dakar)|
|Alyssa leading an Artisan Reseau meeting (Thies)|
|In my office, reviewing photos|