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7 Years Later
 
All Images: ©2009-2013 Cogley Films
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    While conducting dissertation research during the 2009-2010 academic year, Dakar To Port Loko: Perspectives From West Africa filmmaker Nathaniel Cogley was able to revisit Senegal, The Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau, giving him an opportunity to locate many individuals in the film in order to once again thank them for their participation and provide them with their own official DVD copy.
    Unfortunately, without proper contact information it proved over-challenging to locate individuals in Dakar, an urban capital of over 2 million people.  Instead, a film screening was set up with the English Department at the FASTEF teacher training college (since a French-subtitled version of the film has not yet been produced).  Almost 250 English-teachers-to-be attended, followed by Q and A.  Interestingly, audience members laughed hysterically at two points in the film when most American audiences remain silent: 1) when one of the Senegalese claims that, like US President George W. Bush, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade’s unpopularity stems from him being “unlucky”; and 2) when the Senegalese butcher in The Gambia claims, “My whole family, they’re all butchers.  My father, my mother, sister, all.”
    In Serekunda, The Gambia, mask maker Omar Mbye is still happily making his Mandinka masks and other wood carvings in the same artisan workshop near the Mussa Kebba Drammeh junction.  If you’re in town and want to pick up your very own Mandinka mask or other wood carving, feel free to stop by the shop or call him at (country code 220) 7279341 or 7797835.  If you mention that you saw him in Dakar To Port Loko, he promises to give you an extra good price!  (Serekunda is also spelled Serrekunda.)
    Retired welder and daily horse racing gambler Kebba Kebbeh can still be found hanging out with his friends near one of the tire shops close to the busy Westfield junction.  He claims to have quit gambling a few years ago, but twice the filmmaker caught him looking over the daily PMU horse racing sheet!  He explained both times that he was merely helping out a friend that had asked him to recommend some horses.  Kebba also wanted me to post a picture of him in his younger, more dashing days; this one taken in 1963 at the age of 23!  He claims to have been quite the ladies’ man back then!
 
Market woman Binta Jassey is still selling her onions and dry bongo fish in the Serekunda Market.  In 2007, there was a major fire in the marketplace, forcing her and many others to lose their original selling locations both during and after the market’s reconstruction.  She reports that her old location benefited from a lot more foot traffic than her current one and therefore she’s doing less business today than before.  On a more positive note, however, she also reports that one of her five children has made his way to the UK and has found a “nice job” there as an operator (of what we don’t know).  Another one, still in The Gambia, has finished a diploma in construction and is hoping to be trained to become a professional surveyor in the near future.
 
    Market woman Aji Nyassey (right) also lost her original selling location in the Serekunda Market fire of 2007.  Instead of changing locations like Binta, however, she decided to retire from the marketplace and now spends her days relaxing and working in the family compound.  After receiving a copy of herself in Dakar To Port Loko, she reciprocated the gesture with a large bag of recently picked local grapefruits and mandarins!
 
    In Guinea-Bissau, Radio Lamparam manager and host Souliman Djallo was transferred to work at another radio station in Buba in 2004, a couple years before the Cantanhez Forest would become an official national park.  While he misses being around his family and friends in Jemberem, he now enjoys the greater variety of activities available in Buba, a small southern junction town with a paved road connecting it to the capital.  Here he is on his way into Cantanhez Forest, catching the filmmaker on his way out!  Micro-finance program manager Isabel Sillah has also finished her work in the Cantanhez Forest region and now resides somewhere in the capital.
 
    Palm oil woman, Cisse Balde, is still working around the house and, of course, making palm oil from time to time.  She is actually the wife of the Jemberem village chief, Souliman Djallo (same name, but no relation to the younger radio station manager above).
 
    Forest hunter Usmane Cante is still living in the village of Madina, a 15-minute walk from Jemberem, and hunting small, non-protected game in the forest.  Sadly, his friend and forestry worker, Mogna Sambu (also featured in the film), passed away of unknown natural causes a few years ago.  A copy of the film was given to his late wife.  The locals still laud Mogna’s exceptionally effective management of the forest and government-community relations during his tenure.
 
    Orange tree owner Nabi Camara got into big trouble recently when he actually fatally shot a chimpanzee that was eating in his trees (wow)!  There was a local community trial and he was ordered to pay 50,000 CFA ($113), although the sum is reported to still be unpaid.  He claims to deeply regret the incident and says he just acted out of years of extreme frustration.  Nevertheless, he certainly enjoyed watching himself complain about the chimps eating his oranges seven years earlier in Dakar To Port Loko!
 
    Cadique Nalu village chief Salifo Camara was extremely happy with the film and the fact that outsiders and future generations can now witness for themselves the  hospitality (“kanabin”) of his people.  He was once again a gracious host and commented that the film captured him in his stronger, more energetic days.
 
    The singing and dancing girls of Cadique Nalu, along with others in the village, had a blast watching themselves perform their dances seven years ago on a television set in the village school.  Below-left is a video of the screening event (the television image was actually quite clear).  Above, dancing stars Maiene Sambu (15, married with one kid and another on the way), Meimuna Camara (17, married with kids), Mariama Camara (19, not married), Mariama Sambu (15, not married), as well as some younger girls featured in the film sit for a group photo.  Below right, Mariama Camara holds up a copy of Dakar To Port Loko: Perspectives From West Africa and shows off her beautiful smile.