She writes and publishes children's books (see Facebook " Les livres et contes de Coumba ").
She is one of the coordinators of the pan-African movement Africans Rising, she is the president of the board of directors of the Trust Africa Foundation and the Baobab Center.
The Invisible Giants
When we look for them, we often find them... right under our nose. We see them without paying attention to them. Ndeye Seck, drum major, has played the sabar all over the world, a profession in which there are few women. But she is one, among other invisible giants. There are so many women like her who have gone beyond cultural, religious, economic frameworks... who had already decided the limit of their destiny.
Every time I meet them and recognize them, I wonder what force has allowed them to escape the spiral they have been in since birth. How and where do they find the strength and also the chance to survive?
First I ask them the question: Who are you? Who are you to defy established norms?
For more than twenty years I have been collecting stories of invisible giants, stories so true that they transcend fiction, stories of women who cure us of despair and cynicism.
Invisible Giants? I think of those like Saly Wade who use food to heal.
She said, "I'm a geographer, but I got into nutrition through the door of disease. I needed care myself, I had tried everything and nothing worked. Little by little, I looked for and found my own solutions through nutrition.
I used the same research techniques and processes that I used in university in my work. Little by little, I discovered things: it is possible to use certain foods to cure oneself, it is possible to change one's rhythm, it is possible that once the disease has set in, it is possible to accompany humans to regain their joie de vivre.
I love Saly! What she says makes sense. We need to eat, we need to do it to live. But we don't eat just to "eat", to feed the body as if we were swallowing pills. Eating often goes with a ritual. There is a psychological part, she says, which means that when we are sick, when we have food bans (sugar, salt...) and in our own house they make us a separate dish, if we used to eat together, we lose the taste, we don't feel like it anymore or we cheat against ourselves. We are often looking for a particular taste, so eating a dish from which we have subtracted an element like salt does not work. We need something else so that we don't expect the same taste. Eating also means remembering the people you ate with.
Among migrants, eating habits are the last things to disappear, over generations. You lose the languages before you lose the food. Nostalgia for the place we come from is very often linked to the taste of the food we miss.
Eating is remembering what you ate, that you were next to your mother, grandmother, father, brothers, sisters and friends.
When food is attached to a good memory or relationship, it is difficult to detach oneself from it.
Invisible Giants. There are those who are professionals of care, of psychotherapy like Khaira Thiam, those who have learned to work with the mind, to reframe, to ask questions, to make exercises to bring back those who have gone far from themselves. Those who carry and keep the heaviest secrets of rape, incest, pedophilia and domestic violence. Those who bring little by little those who have had shocks, accidents, violence on their minds. Very often, they pick up with a spoonful of women and girls who are victims of violence from people close to them; sometimes too close to talk, too close to challenge them.
And now someone has to help stitch up the fragments, to bring back some semblance of balance. Of course, the scars remain, we are never the same as before, but at least we can function. Somewhere it's like an amputation. The only thing left to do is to walk, with crutches or not.
Invisible giants like Adji Fatou and those women who also care differently, who align rhythms. Don't ask me how, since I don't know. The ndeupkat have the belief that human beings have a rhythm... That there are times when psychiatric illness comes from the disruption of rhythm and calls for realignment. Women are priestesses and the men who officiate are dressed like women and dance like women. The care is often community-based, I see that many family members have to be involved for it to work. In therapy, music is played: the sabar, songs; we dance, and we turn... So many sounds are played, until we find the rhythm that puts the sick person in a trance. And in the trance somewhere, mysteriously the treatment takes place. The person unveils his "medicines" and asks (perhaps not him, but in any case his spiritual companions, by his voice), for things.
Sometimes it's blood and you have to sacrifice an animal and sometimes it's milk. Other times it's alcohol and who knows what else. In any case, needs are expressed that could never have been expressed in a normal conversation.
If healing is a possibility, men and women come back to themselves, gather their parts, remember who they are, who they were before their fragmentation.
And also there are those who heal through touch, those who give massages, energetic care; those who heal through art like Felicité Codjo or through theater like Nathalie Vairac... Of course the Cartesian formatting of my brain often resists, but it doesn't matter what I believe as long as the patients feel better.
There are still those who heal by listening and asking questions. Coaches like Patricia Sennequier and Fatime Faye or simply human rights activists. Binta Sarr has left, but she has left her ears attentive to the pain of women at APROFES. Often the first care is listening, someone who recognizes with you the injustice of how you were treated. Often, the first caregiver is a lawyer, a gynecologist, a legal advisor or simply a sister who accompanies you to the police, testifies that you are not the culprit, but the victim.
Invisible giants, these women that I tell, these women whose stories I tell have had to heal themselves. They have had to go through their own healing process, to have learned sometimes informally and then formally to find a solution for themselves, for their families or for their neighbors.
Who cares for those who care? Who takes care of the Invisible Giants and those who give hope? There seems to be a great lack. Often I don't have answers to my questions. At the meeting of Feminist Republiik in Kenya, organized by the Women's Emergency Fund, I saw the possibility of giving this moment to her caregivers. Even if we do not have the means to make such a level of meeting, we must on a small scale find a way to offer respite to our brave women fighters.
The celebration of the Invisible Giants is an attempt to recognize and care for those who give so much to so many people in our communities.