How are you... in Dakar (Renée Mboya)

Hoe staat het in deze tijden van corona met onze vrienden die in het afgelopen jaar op bezoek waren bij Stroom, bij wie wij zelf op bezoek zijn geweest, of die hopelijk dit jaar nog komen?
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In these times of corona, what about our friends who visited Stroom in the past year, whom we visited ourselves or who hopefully will be part of the Stroom program this year?
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We vroegen het aan Renée Mboya, een van onze Reading Residents in 2019.

We contacted Renée Mboya, one of our Reading Residents in 2019

April 27, 2020
from Dakar (Senegal)

In late 2019, I moved from Nairobi to Dakar, a city I had previously experienced as joyful and alert; the vigorous rhythms of the sabar effortlessly giving way to the calls to prayer.

It is a weird time to be newly diasporic, in a foreign city without familial connections and more importantly without language - a place I chose to claim as home on a whim, in the now forgotten moments before the crisis.

To date Senegal has 671 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with eight deaths and more than half of the number of confirmed already in recovery. It's strange not to know which end of the crisis we're on here; whether the worst is yet to come or if this is as bad as it will get. It's strange not to be able to ask my neighbours how they are - in a language that they understand - if they are in good health, and how their communities are holding up under the pressure of the lockdown. It's strange to read the news of my new city, twice translated by an AI bot, as though I am not in fact in this place as well.

I spend my days here grappling with words, shifting back and forth between the apps that promise me I will be fluent in Wolof within a fortnight even though it has been six months and I am only three sentences deep.

I hope by the end of it all I will at least be able to say thank you, to the people who are my community here, who keep me fed and watered and don't seem to mind at all that my best sentences are only three words long, and not even offered with the benefit of a smile now that we all live behind these masks.

I hope that they will know how grateful I am that they accept my silence and my strange ways, and that in the days beyond disease we might have the chance to get to know each other for real, in the ways I took for granted until not too long ago.

I hope you are all in good health and perhaps have the luxury of a close embrace.

Aluta continua.

Renée Mboya


Foret Classée de Poponguine
foto: Renée Mboya
Renée Mboya
Renée Mboya
Renée Mboya is a curator, writer and filmmaker from Nairobi, Kenya. Her work is concerned with memory and specifically the use of autobiography in contemporary narratives to rehabilitate misrepresentations in the historical. In 2019 she was one of the guests in our Reading Residency program, after which she moved to Dakar, Senegal, to continue her research project A Glossary of Words My Mother Never Taught Me.
She was part of De Appel Curatorial Program in the 2015/2016 edition and was one of the visiting curators of the Stroom Invest Week 2018.
>> Read more about her in the Stroom Invest Interview on Jegens & Tevens (June 2018).