Namenala is the story of a cathartic journey, a journey of discovery of some African cultures but also a journey of self discovery through Africa. The project is made up of photographs, snapshots, texts, drawings, maps, objects and archival materials.
“Namenala” is a Wolof expression. It means I miss you. Usually the answer is “mala raw”, you more. But namenala can also mean I love you… love and nostalgia.
I always felt something missing in my life… but what? and where should I look for it?
As a child I used to look for the “Other” in old atlas or in postcards from foreign countries, in my grandfather’s dictionaries or in my black doll “Cicciobello”, and later in the books and films that filled my youth days.
Africa has never been in my plans, as it was in my mom’s dreams indeed. I was more interested in Far East cultures but, unexpectedly, Africa reached me in my hometown.
When the first African refugees arrived in Asti (a provincial town in Northern Italy) there were racist reactions so I felt I had to make them feel accepted (teaching italian and doing other cultural exchange activities). They always welcomed me among them, despite age gap, and they also introduced me to their cultures. At that time I had already traveled to some African countries but I felt the need to go back to Africa to deepen my connection. In the meanwhile, my African friends were making the reverse journey, discovering Europe and looking for a (not always easy) balance between their new country and their native ones.
These years were full of joyfull moments but I also faced so many stereotypes, not only the ones coming from other people but also my own, of which I naively believed myself lacked. Many unresolved inner questions also come to surface and I felt I should seek answers not in the intellectual sphere but only though my direct experience, through love and friendship.