Photographs of the Kujamaat Jóola

[Diola Fogny]

1961, 1964-6, 1970

The Casamance, Sénégal, West Africa

Photographs & texts © by J. David Sapir

In memory of Tim Asch (1932-1994) —  pioneer Visual Anthropologist & friend.

The photographs on these pages were taken during anthropological and linguistic field work with the Kujamaat Jóola. My work was textually oriented. I recorded and transcribed texts, worked through grammatical categories, compiled lexical entries and carried out long interviews about the recordings. I also investigated aspects of their religious symbolism. My major outings into the wider world were to record singing sessions and to interview knowledgeable specialists. For the most part my field work entailed sitting for hours on end huddled over a tape recorder, badgering informants for details about the subleties of complex discourse. There was precious little that was "visual" about my work.

Since high school I have been what can be called a "shutterbug," and came to Africa with a Leica (M2, 50mm Summicron lens), several cartons of film and a determination to photograph. There was no intended connection between my linguistics and anthropology and my photographs. With the camera I wished to record what struck me about my new friends and their world, what I could not have been able to record verbally and certainly not in the formal discourse of linguistics and anthropology.

The Kujamaat (others call them the "Fogny") who number about 90,000 live to the North of Bignona the seat of the Prefecture of Bignona. They speak one dialect out of a group called collectively the Jóola language and ethnic group. When speaking to strangers or non-Jóola they refer to themselves as such. However to stress their particular self and place they will insist on themselves as Kujamaat (sg. Ajamaat), their language as Kujamutay and the region they inhabit the Kajamutay.

The set is divided into five sections - fank, home; ewań, cultivation; bugįar, a secular dance; futamp, boys' initiation; and ebun, a festival for out-married women. (The Kujamaat are virolocal in marriage.) Clicking on the image map will take you to the appropriate top page thence to the images.

Each photo gallery is accompanied by a sound file - so they will be slow in coming up - patience!

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David Newman of the Brookhaven College Center For the Arts comments on Sapir's photos as ART!

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