Cooperative

Raphaël Grisey, Bouba Touré and the agricultural Cooperative of Somankidi Coura

Cooperative refers to an agricultural cooperative settled in Mali in 1976 by former african migrant workers living in France who inherited the political background of 1968 in France, the liberation struggles in Africa and of the migrant workers, after the drought of 1973 in a region of massive rural exodus and emmigration to France. Located along the Senegal River, the village, named Somankidi Coura settled with an irrigation system and count now more than 300 hundred inhabitants. This permaculture cooperative became a model in the region for other groups or individuals who wanted to cultivate. The title find an echo in the collaboration between Raphael grisey and Bouba Touré, present from the beginning of the project. Photographer, former projectionist and one of the founders of Somankidi Coura himself, Bouba Touré allowed Raphaël grisey to access his working archives and the cooperative.

 

The video Cooperative is a video in splitscreen of a double screens, synchronized and looped video installation around the permaculture cooperative of Somankidi Coura founded in 1977 in Mali by 14 militant migrant workers from West Africa living in France who met in the early 70’s inside the Cultural Association of African Workers in France (ACTAF) created to support the liberation struggles of the former Portuguese colonies and better living and working conditions of migrant workers in France. The juxtaposition of different geographies, social spaces and temporalities (the village, the fields, the market of Kayes, the colonial ruins of Samé Plantation the flat of Bouba Touré, the demonstrations of Sans-Papiers and migrant workers housings in Paris), associated with outbreaks of many protagonists and photographs of Bouba Touré reformulate the context of creation of the community as well as its daily life and mode of production along the Senegal river.

video stills [Cooperative]

video [Cooperative]

 

The video Bouba Touré, 58 rue Trousseau, 75011 Paris, France by Bouba Touré was shot in his parisian home, a two-room apartment with many photographs, posters, and keepsakes on the walls. The video, shot in two takes, is led by the images on the wall. Touré links many political struggles of the last 50 years with his life, showing and speaking about them. Touré’s narration find his own rythm and a condition of speech by repeating certain lines. The video was given to Raphaël Grisey for its diffusion.

video stills [Bouba Touré, 58 rue Trousseau, 75011 Paris, France]

video [Bouba Touré, 58 rue Trousseau, 75011 Paris, France]

 

The two films in dialogue offer the possibility, through the micro history of Somankidi Coura and the protagonist of Bouba Toure to get an insight of two less-known fronts of the post-colonial liberation struggles, the one of the migrant workers and of the peasants.

 

The cooperative of Somankidi Coura was founded in 1976 by 14 militant migrant workers from West Africa living in France who met in the early 70’s inside the Cultural Association of African Workers in France (ACTAF) created to support the liberation struggles of the former Portuguese colonies and better living and working conditions of migrant workers in France. At the end of the liberation wars some members of the ACTAF see in the Sahel drought of 1973, the urgent necessity to consider anew their peasant background and the deeper cause of their situation in France.
After some internships with french farmers, the group settled near the city of Kayes in Mali, along the Senegal river on the land of the Soninké village of Somankidi, in a region suffering from rural exodus many decades. The cooperative developed a network of irrigation systems in order to produce bananas, oignons, corn, sorghum, millet, papayas, mangos, tomatoes and seeds all the year with the help of the river.
The irrigated perimeters permaculture , initiated by the cooperative, generated a lot of individual and collective initiatives that has been grouped into the Regional Union of the Agricultural Cooperative of Kayes (URCAK). The association of the women of Somankidi Coura was founded in 1982. This enables a financial and production autonomy for the women but also to become member of the cooperative and raise their claim in the village and in the region.

 

Bouba Touré photographs, foundation of Somankidi Coura, 1977
[B&W photographs] [color slides]

Centre d´art contemporain de la Ville de Chelles, Les Églises [exhibition views]

Who is speaking there? – Some Greetings to the Other Side
A text by Ines Schaber [fr] [en]

RG in conversation with Pascal Beausse, Berlin, 30 April 2009 [fr] [en]

RG in conversation with Olivier Pierre, FID 2009 [fr]