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Project YK-04 Primary school


March 29, 2015


It is interesting to compare two perspectives. Seen as a sculpture, a piece of art, it is a large work. Looking at the schoolyard we have created a small and special place in the outer corner under two trees. The immense detail in the work radiates an ambiance. The schoolyard is no longer dull and empty, there is a liveliness. So yes, you could say it is a large sculpture that makes the schoolyard a better place.

After finishing the last painting work we barricade the entrance to the school to keep out sheep and goats. They had trampled over the drying paint the night before. The closed entrance turns out to be very exciting for all the children on the street. When we remove the barricade the next day the work is finished and open to all. Always a strange feeling. Passing by some time later to pick up some materials the whole sculpture is filled with children. They are using our buckets as drums and dancing and singing anywhere possible, the higher the better. Nobody was expecting us, it is their own spontaneous party. We can not imagine a better thank you.


Maybe it was better we did not have a camera with us. The scene is imprinted in our mind. It instantly made up for all the frustrations that are inevitably part of a project like this.

Then comes the official opening ceremony organised by the staff. We have been at events like this... So with all due respect we had asked to please keep it short, not too much talking.

We dress up and arrive at the school. As expected we are seated to be the centrepiece of the ceremony, this gives us mixed feelings. So there we are, the VIPs in front of a crowd of 800+ children. The live drumming is great and help us find a mode to fully enjoy the situation.  The talks are well thought out and brief. Groups of children are dressed up in traditional style and perform Lebou dances. We most like the ending of the routines, went the beat picks up speed and the choreography switches to wild improvisation.

Then it is our turn to talk. We have prepared a small play. Monica is the storyteller, with Wolof translations by a teacher. Roos and Hans hear a noise, they scan the ground with their ears. It is the snake! A short interactive story unfolds, about how the snake hopes to like it here and might even grow. In the end the sculpture gets showered with water. Its bright colours show. The snake is happy and begins to laugh! The name is revealed. Djaan bi hakhataye. The laughing snake.

The ceremony continues. A dance competition, with anyone joining in. The powerful movements and strong expression of character are amazing. Of course we have to show our best moves too. The wilder the better. In this ‘competition’ it’s the clapping and yelling that you receive that count. All those that made the crowd go wild are winners. There are several, and because white people frantically trying African dance moves is hilarious, we are included.

As closing act we receive presents from the school and teachers to show their gratitude. This gratitude is expressed more tellingly in the conversations that follow. About half of the staff have really been inspired by being part of the creative process. They each explain different aspects that they value. Take this feedback and add the spontaneous party of the children earlier. Mix in the many meaningful experiences of Monica and we can look back on a really great project. A big thank you to all who were a part it!


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