By: Cova Álvarez (text) y Javier Acebal (photo). Year: 2014 Coming from the south of Senegal and practiced for more than ten centuries, wrestling is a multitudinous sport that has become into an authentic social phenomenon of great transcendence in the country, very top in relevancy and prominence to any other sports. From the most traditional versions -mbappat- to the current practice of the lamb, the fighters have turned into idols of masses and represent one of little dreams of success, money, recognition and future for the young persons of the country. Dressed up with the traditional loincloth or mbap and different amulets or xons, they face in the sand their immense bodies and the magic that their respective wizards, the marabouts, articulate based on conjurations that seek to debilitate the force of the adversary.
This book gathers in words and images a possible tour across the hours before the combat of a Senegalese wrestler, through the memories, feelings, rituals, movements and all magic that precedes the clash.
“I’m waiting for the magic. It is almost noon and I am still alone in the slow and continuous everyday heat, that sort of heat that crushes bodies against the street. Outside, a murmur of prayers merges with the eternal haggling of the markets and pours through every crack of the room, mingling with the spiraling flight of the flies and their muddy buzz. Sitting on the floor under the motionless fan blades, I extend my arm to caress the pool of light liquefied behind the window, which is open like a wound to the orange and savage sun of Dakar. Still alone in this cave but already they arrive –one by one or all at once- and meanwhile I plunge my hand into the light to feel its warmth on the tips of my fingers. Fingers that would later fly full of sun towards my lower lip, the same lip that burned three months ago after smashing against Bakari´s left shoulder. I do not understand how memory works and it has always intrigued me. I do not think I will find it- the truth- but many times I have wondered why something that did not exist in my head seconds before could suddenly blow up inside my skull and change everything around me, moving pieces of an invisible puzzle. Like now; it is the light on my dried and healing lip which lets me hear the sound clearly that the lip made when split at that frontal shock, like a camera shooting from a corner of this ramshackle room; it is an ugly room, bare with grey walls, with everything that was hung on them close to falling off. Following the shoot it always happens; the torrential downloading of images of the clash with this massive one, this evil beast, Bakari, a mountain made of skin that absorbs me in its billows of flesh like a ton of mud. All images contain the metallic taste of bleeding, the burst of blood blooming like a liquid flower on my chin, cascading over my chest. All images have a feel to them. I search for the small mirror on the wall behind me to count grooves and bumps, shadows and ripples. Here is my face, the new geography: Latif Country, Latif Ocean, Latif Desert, Latif Riverside, Latif of the South Lands, Latif King of Sands, L A T I F. New coordinates made of skin where my lips are not the same as before, nor my face, nor my right ear –half destroyed- because nothing made of soft tissue has the same shape, not at all. I could explore my body inch by inch and I bet I would not find any remainder of the puny boy I used to be, of that climber’s body that I once inhabited. I get a little bit closer to the mirror and I stumble over the wooden table, not yet varnished. A bunch of little bottles, accumulated over the last few weeks, tremble, dance. I stop their dance with my toothed claws, with the hands of a future king, silencing the sounds of glass about to break, counting them again to assure their survival: twelve.”
– 22 pgs. – PDF format. – Resolution: 2560 × 1600. – Size: 15MB. – Language: English.
The printed version is available at the Blurb website!
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