Two consequent Fridays Boniface and Edoh have been showing Nikita series to the satisfied Popolese spectators in the momentously bit chilly nights of Grand-Popo. We hope this series to have continuance in the Friday Cinema in future, to know what will eventually happen to the multitalented lady agent!
As the sun got down on Saturday evening the first of September, Georgette and Sylvie opened the monthly concert at Villa Karo’s stage.
The audience was entertained first by a small theatrical company from Cotonou, with actors from as far as Congo D.R. and Côte DIvoire. Their play dealt with multicultural encounter in a small African village and it was starred by the Santa Claus himself, who was saved by a local sorcerer from the overwhelming heat of Africa. The audience was clearly enjoying the spectacle and especially sorcerer’s original voodoo dance made the public laugh.
After the play a talented multi-member orchestra from nearby town, Les Pigeons Verts de Comé, got up to the stage. The rhythms of the band and the beautiful voice of an originally Grand-Popolese singer Toujov filled the air. The children in the audience were asked to participate in a dancing competition on stage.
In the midst of all the music and dancing, a quiz was organized by a local NGO on environmental issues, which put the Popolese audience reflect among others, the importance of the shadows that trees offer, and to recall the name of the species of mosquito which carries the malaria parasite.
Full moon guarded the homeward-bound concert guests.
The first scholarship holders of the autumn are already in Grand-Popo, and it’s time to continue our course in Beninese French. So here are some phrases you hear really often after arriving to Villa Karo.
“Tu es en train?” (“You are [do]-ing?”) is a commonly asked question and related to the expression “Tu as fait un peu?” (“Have you done a little?”). Both refer to working, and can also be seen as compliments of just “doing something” in general. Georgette Singbe notes often that it’s common in Benin to try to avoid silences, and so the silence is broken for example by asking somebody if “they’re [do]-ing” – the same way a silence is broken in a dinner table by wishing others “bonne digestion”, because of course there is no point in wishing “bon appetit” if the meal is already finished. “Tu es en train?” is also interesting because it is weirdly missing its end, the part about the verb “faire” (“to do”): “the normal” way to ask would be “Tu es en train de faire…” plus something. But, the end is missing and because of this, the phrase is actually, literally saying something close to: “Are you in a train?”
“Pas de quoi!” (“It’s nothing”) is an everyday equivalent of “je vous en prie” (“You’re welcome”) which can be heard in Benin almost only in restaurants. We Finns find this phrase very cozy, since we also like to say, in a “negative” manner “Ei mitään” or “Eipä kestä” instead of “You’re welcome” or “Ole hyvä”. For some reason “De rien” (also “It’s nothing”) is not so often used in Benin, “Pas de quoi” is much more common.
And then there is “C’est gratuit!”, which means essentially the same thing as “Pas de quoi” and which can be funnily used also in situations which, in fact, are not free of charge (gratuit) at all, like in restaurants. “C’est gratuit” expresses the doers willingness to help: “it’s on the house” (even when it isn’t).
So here you go, pas de quoi, c’est gratuit! More is in a train, mera är på väg!
Villa Karo is preparing for the autumn semester to begin. This week has been a week of maintenance and everybody is busy preparing the house for the scholarship holders who will begin to settle in the house from next week on, as Kwassi has written already.
The see is wild and the air is windy. The coolest time of the year, say the locals. Even if the air sweetly touches the human skin and deliberately winds the dogs fur, the touch is rough for the dead souls of the house. The wooden doors, the book selves, the pieces of art, the furniture — they all need someone to assist them in their encounter with the salty air. Constant work is being done by the Villa Karo staff during the year tackling the forces of nature and it all seems to culminate in this week. It’s time for waxing, washing, rubbing, polishing, cleaning and airing.
This is also a good time to arrive at Grand-Popo and to begin one’s share in writing this blog. I am the internship trainee of Villa Karo during this autumn and will be reporting on the happenings in Villa Karo during my stay here to keep the readers updated on what is going on at this corner of the world, still so unfamiliar to me.
Wonderful tunes from beautiful birds, terrific waves hitting the shores, whistling breeze penetrating studios upstairs are some typical feelings awaiting our new scholarship holders arriving at Grand-Popo soon for this fall 2012.
Staff members are knocking heads together to ensure a perfect reopening of Villa Karo’s doors for our daily activities. Painters, Carpenters, Gardeners are all striving to to knock the last nail home for readiness. Welcome all for a new season!
May was a month of hard work as we renewed the exhibition of the Petit musée in Villa Karo, and here it is! Ready to welcome visitors right away when Villa Karo opens it’s doors again in the end of August!
Tintti Timonen and I did the design based on Soile Rinno‘s prior exhibitions; carpenters and painters repaired the interior and the furniture designed by Tina Lotila for the first exhibition in 2002; and finally together with Georgette Singbe, Wiktoriina Hurskainen and Boniface Gossou we arranged the objects in their right places. If you’re not in Benin right now, take a look at the “musée” through the photos below!
On 19th of May Villa Karo participated in the finale of the Teni-Tedji Marionette Festival, which was organized for the third time in Benin by association Thakamou Culture Arts and it’s director Jude Zounmenou. Earlier in May Thakamou performed at the concert in Villa Karo, and now it was time to let the local children and high school students participate in the act – and they were many!
The rain forced us indoors in the beginning, but it didn’t stop people from playing, singing and dancing. Familiar songs and rhythms invited the children to try the marionettes, and the artists from Thakamou group taught us how the puppets are moved and how a performance is made.
After the workshop Teni-Tedji Festival had a succesful ending, as the performers gave one last show for the children. Next year we’ll see the 4th edition of the festival, and we warmly welcome Thakamou Culture Arts back to Villa Karo!
Here’s also a peak to Thakamou group’s project in 2011. This year’s theme in the Teni-Tedji festival was the treatment of disabled people in the society and an effort to enhance their well-being. We’ll see what next year brings!