Sowing Somankidi Coura, a Generative Archive

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30 June–06 August 2017
Exhibition, seminar and screenings

Sowing Somankidi Coura is a long-term research endeavor by Raphaël Grisey in collaboration with Bouba Touré around the permacultures and archives of Somankidi Coura, a self-organized cooperative along the Senegal river founded by a group of former African migrant workers and activists in France in 1977 after the Sahel drought of 1973. Sowing Somankidi Coura unfolds and generates cine-geographies that reveal the boundaries between the liberation struggles of migrant workers in France, the Pan-African history of the cooperative and potentialities of permaculture.

Through a practice of filmmaking and collective care, Sowing Somankidi Coura, engages in the articulation of narratives of empowerment and peasant alliances. The research navigates the liaisons across partial perspectives; situated knowledges and ecosystems; hetero-temporalities; affinities between soils, plants, animals and irrigation technologies; archives and reservoirs. Deploying diverse modes of image circulation, the work aimed at resisting forces of erosion, determination, national migration management politicies, and the patenting of (post)colonial agro-industries.

Seminar at Archive Kabinett

Participants: Ibrahim Wane, Raphaël Grisey, Marie-Hélène Gutberlet, Safi Faye, Shela Sheikh, Nicole Wolf, Tobias Hering, Bouba Touré, Åsa Sonjasdotter, Bino Byansi Byakuleka and WeAreBornFree Radio amongst others.


Saturday July 1st, 2017
Migrant liberation struggles : fugitivity and empowerment through images production

1.30 pm
Short introduction with Chiara Figone and Raphaël Grisey
Migrant liberation struggles: Fugitivity and empowerment through images production

2.00 pm
Wearebornfree! Empowerment Radio (We!R), Bino Byanso Byakuleka, Antonia, Moro Yatha.
Media activism and the wish to establish a community living in Berlin and in the region of Brandenburg and beyond.
(We!R broadcast from Archives Kabinett from 3pm to 5pm)

3.00 pm
Bouba Touré
On the past activities of ACTAF (Cultural Association of Migrant workers in France), the cooperative Somankidi Coura, and the ongoing archives of Bouba Touré.

3.30 pm
Aïssatou Mbodj
Rent strikes and political protest in migrants’ hostels in 1970s’ France: a view on postcolonial migrants’ political involvement

4.30 pm
Marie-Hélène Gutberlet
Run, comrade, run, the old world is behind you – The cinema of Med Hondo

5.00 pm
On fugitivity
Panel discussion with the participants (Shela Sheikh and Nicole Wolf)
Thoughts on archives, temporalities, soils, agriculture and culture, and how to activate the remains.

6.30 pm
Raphaël Grisey / Bouba Touré
The Sahel drought image fabric.
Peasant alliances in Somankidi Coura, and in the film Safrana or freedom of Speech by Sidney Sokhona.
NGO, geo-engineering, Larzac Plateau and decolonizing the developmentalist paradigm.

9.00 pm
Screening of Kaddu Beykat (Letter from my Village)

Kaddu Beykat (Letter from My Village) is a 1975 Senegalese film directed
by Safi Faye. Centred on a romance, it chronicles the daily lives of people in a rural Senegalese village and their struggle with the state land and agricultural politics. It was the first feature film made by a Sub-Saharan African woman to be commercially distributed.


Sunday July 2nd, 2017
Care, permacultures, archives: peasants, labor, plants

1.00 pm
Raphaël Grisey
Introduction : On kinship and amateur practices, a permaculture cinema?

1.30 pm
Romain Tiquet
On transition, labor and the ideology of “Mise en valeur” through the colonial archives around the sisal plantation of Diakhandapé (Mali)

2.30 pm
Ibrahim Wane
Magazines, rural animation, music, in the Senegalese maoist leftist opposition after the independance

3.30 pm
Kaddu Yaraax and Theatre Forum presented by Seydou Ndiaye

4.00 pm
Shela Sheikh
Care Time: Postcolonial Ecologies and the Politics of Soil

5.00 pm
Åsa Sonjasdotter
A note on co-species’ workings of humans and plants, on problems of de-skilling and strategies for re-skilling

5.30 pm
Nicole Wolf
Permaculture: fugitivity and repair
Group discussion / workshop


Screening series

July 4, 2017

Arsenal – Institute for Film and Video Art

Safrana ou le droit a la parole (Safrana or Freedom of Speech)
Sidney Sokhona 1978, 100’

Presented by Raphaël Grisey and Bouba Touré

In the mid-1970s, a political group made up of members of the West African diaspora in Paris decided to turn their back on factory work, to become apprentices of French farmers; later founding the cooperative “Somankidi Coura” in Mali. The Mauritanian director Sidney Sokhona based his feature Safrana ou le droit a la parole (1978) on them. It is a collective work in which the protagonists of the diaspora play themselves in central roles.


August 4, 2017

Archive Kabinett
Fad’Jal, Safi Faye, 1979, 110’

Fad’Jal is the second film of Safi Faye after Kaddu Beykat (Letter from my Village) shot in her native village, Fad’Jal, in Senegal. An elder tells to a group of kids the village’s history and its resistance against the kingdom, the colonists and the state.

Related Publication

Archive Books


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