January 2, 2023, Art Gallé, Nouakchott
Panel: L’apport des artistes dans la lutte contre les violences faits aux femmes et aux enfants

The first meeting on gender-based violence was held at ArtGallé where visual artist and activist Amy Sow, rapper Abda MC, journalist and activist Houleye Kane, and beautician Dado Bathily, moderated by sociologist and activist Djeynaba Ndiome, spoke about the legislative situation of the country and the need to deepen and broaden the knowledge about the topic. The speakers spoke, data in hand, of the vastness of the problem and opened a dialogue with the audience. Visual artist Emiliana Sabiu spoke at the meeting about Cherimus and its efforts to bring attention to these increasingly urgent issues in the rural areas of Sardinia and the importance of the recognition by the Regione Autonoma della Sardegna of this project to support the struggle on several fronts.
“The art of fighting” aims to bring discussions of gender-based violence from Nouakchott to the most remote villages of Mauritania through meetings and workshops held by artists and musicians.

January 3, 2023, Toujounine neighborhood, Nouakchott
Painting workshop

Art Gallé and Cherimus were welcomed by Mrs. Leila and the young people of the Toujounine neighborhood with traditional mint tea. The workshop held by Amy Sow aim was to strenght awareness about gender-based violence with a group of girls and boys held by the ArtGallé team led by Amy Sow. At the end of the meeting the girls and boys had the opportunity (for many of them, the first!) to experiment with painting.

January 4, 2023, Sylla’s atelier, Arafat neighborhood, Nouakchott
Natural dye workshop

Mr. Sylla held a workshop of traditional fabric-dyeing techniques from his atelier in the Arafat neighborhood south of Nouakchott.

January 6, 2023, Riad neighborhood, Nouakchott
Traditional doll-making workshop

Workshop in collaboration with the Association pour La Défense de la Voix des Enfants en Mauritanie (ADVEM) which hosts 120 children from the neighborhood and gives them early education. Visual artist and activist Amy Sow spoke about her artistic practice and started to raise some basic questions about gender-based violence and awareness and led a workshop to build traditional dolls.

January 6-7-8, 2023, Ndiagu

The project’s first scheduled trip outside the metro area of Nouakchott is at the center of a political clash between local authorities. The mayor of the village where a meeting and workshop was supposed to be held refuses to meet ArtGallé and Cherimus and does not grant space and support, despite the full consent of the regional authorities. The stated reasons are that in the territory they administer, violence against women and children does not exist.

June 26, 2023, Hawa Kassé’s workshop, Boghé
Pottery workshop

In June, six months after the first trip, Cherimus came back to Mauritania for the core part of the project.
After a six hour journey from Nouakchott together with the team of Art Gallé, we reached Boghé, where we met Hawa Kassé who taught us and all the participants of the workshop how to make terracotta vases. Hawa’s family specializes in the production of vases, especially those used until recently to store water and food. The vases are modeled by hand with local materials and are fired in pits. Even though all the children of the family help with the work, Hawa explained that young people are no longer interested in learning this craft, which is thus in danger of being lost. Visual artist Carlo Spiga, invited by Hawa and Art Gallé, created some lids for the vases adding to them small sculptures of animals made by children, evoking elements of Nuragic statuary.

Hawa Kassé

June 26, 2023, Boghé
Bench-making workshop

In the heart of Boghé there is a wide valley where children play and run. We were told that for a few months of the year the basin is filled with water and fish from the Senegal River, a body of water around which the families, seated on the side of the road, gather to enjoy the landscape. Children often stay until late hours. Here, Art Gallé has organized a workshop to build and decorate benches so as to increase the comfort and safety of those who gather here. Boys and girls from nearby neighborhoods came by to paint and personalize the new benches, and the community began to use them right away. We assisted Amy Sow and Oumar Ndiaye in the organization of the workshops, building on the experience we gained together on the occasion of the project ”I giardini possibili”.

The evening of the 26th of June we were honored by the visit of the music star Amadou Tamba Diop, that had dinner with us and sang a welcome song for Cherimus and ArtGallé team.

Amadou Tamba Diop (1950-2023), legend of “Leelé”, a traditional music from the region of Fouta
<< Amadou Tamba Diop était réputé pour sa parfaite maîtrise de ce genre musical, dont il était toutes ces dernières années le chantre, témoigne un communicateur traditionnel via WhatsApp.
Selon plusieurs sources, ”son nom était intimement lié à des célébrités comme Sidy Chérif de Thilogne et Samba Diop ‘’Leelé’’, qui passe pour l’un des rares artistes du Fouta à avoir son nom associé au genre musical pratiqué.
Selon un article du Quotidien paru en septembre 2022, ‘’le Leelé est un genre littéraire, poétique et musical des Haalpulaar (Toucouleurs) du Fouta Tooro, qui prend sa source dans la culture multiséculaire de cette région du nord du Sénégal et du sud de la Mauritanie’’ >> (APS, Agence de presse Sénégalaise)

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June 26, 2023, Boghé
Panel Voix des femmes

Meeting with women from the Boghé region, invited to share their experiences and difficulties and to participate in an open discussion on gender-based violence. One participant asked, “Artists, what solution do you have?”

July 3, 2023, Alliance Francaise classroom, Ouadane
Henna workshop

Henna (حناء) is a dye prepared from the plant Lawsonia inermis, used since ancient times for the temporary tattooing of hands and feet, and the dyeing of hair. In Mauritania the practice of decorating the hands and feet with henna is traditionally made by women of a single caste, who make these elaborate decorations for the community.
This is why Amy Sow and Zaida Bilal imagined a workshop in which the boys and girls of Ouadane would feel free to experiment with henna designs, through colors and canvas. During the workshop, the traditional Mauritanian designs met the Sardinian symbols of Nuragic culture, giving rise to new combinations.
Small note: the workshop was hosted in one of the classrooms of the Alliance Francaise in Ouadane. In this room, there was a map of France. There was, however, no geographical reference either to Mauritania or to the African continent as a whole.

July 3, 2023, Ouadane
Bench-making workshop

In Ouadane, the evening brings relief from the high temperatures of the day. In an open space in the village, the elderly meet every day, sitting on the floor on traditional carpets, to chat, drink tea and play checkers, while the children run around. The dialogue between Zaida Bilal and Amy Sow gave rise to the idea of ​​building, coloring and installing three benches, which will make that space more comfortable, especially for the elderly. During the workshops, Cherimus and ArtGallé were able to discuss the methods adopted during the project and the children had the opportunity to experiment with painting, and to touch the colours, if only for once in their lives, as Amy tells us. 

July 2-3-4-5, 2023, Auberge Vasque Chez Zaida, Oudane

“No one gives you freedom, you have to take it,” says Zaida Bilal our partner in Ouadane.
This is how, in spite of many challenges, she centered herself and transformed her life and that of her community: starting from scratch, alone, she managed to build her hotel Auberge Vasque Chez Zaida in Ouadane. The space is more than simply a hotel: it is also a cultural and meeting center. Zaida takes guests and artists to the desert in her pickup truck and promotes a new economic and social model, pushing for the empowerment of local women and fighting against their exploitation.
In the photos, Zaida guides us -her guests from Cherimus and ArtGallé -to the “Eye of the Desert” and explains to us the geography of this impressive natural monument.

Zaida Bilal
Zaida Bilal and Amy Sow in the قلب الريشات, literally “The heart of the feathers”, also called the Eye of the desert
Amy Sow draws the structure of the قلب الريشات in the sand
Zaida Bilal explains how the قلب الريشات structure works
Zaida Bilal driving us in the desert
The Rouaijil family playing at Auberge Vasque Chez Zaida the night of July 4th
Carlo Spiga joins the group for a jam session, playing the launeddas