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The Citadel


I was walking on an almost deserted path, a mixture of sand, laterite,
and concrete. I had lost my father, and I had brought him here, to the
Sahel, to be buried. This country whose soil I trod was nameless. It was
memory, anger, love, oblivion… perhaps renewal.
So that’s what had been left to me that was there: territory.

I remember that I felt like being on the moon, alone, witnessing an earthrise for the
first time.
At the place I was going to, on the horizon, a huge wall was growing and
by any road - any route - I was determined to reach it.

One has to understand that I was alone. The only human presence, the only
recognisable thing that guided my search, was the wall. And suddenly:
the wall.

At the wall, I knew I was at the gate of the citadel, an impenetrable
fortress which took shape as I wandered through the red rock paths of
my Sahel Gris. Here, as I took a taxi through the outskirts of Dakar, what
I saw were never-ending ramparts, this huge wall in front of everything I
wanted to see: myself.

One or two minute characters began to appear, isolated like I was,
faceless, anonymous. They were the people of the wall.
I understood that I was at the starting point of this territory: it is my body,
I am all that is visible and invisible here! So I was this citadel, almost
I finally managed to penetrate the walls – but those walls hid others. It
was a labyrinth. While I understood that everything here was my
territory, my thoughts kept pointing me to all directions. I refused to see
what there was to see. I refused to be an identity; all I understood was
that I was a vast, infinite territory and that there, in my journey, the
citadel brought me back to my own presence, to a monumental body.
The visible is not enough here. What is about to be seen is sacred.
I was in Johannesburg when I understood the mechanism of the
citadel’s walls. It was there that the Metropolis became clear to me. It
was there I could mark its traces. I was again a passenger in vehicles,
and I saw the landscape becoming abstract due to the speed of my
movements; when two street corners joined, it was just for a moment;
suddenly a straight wall rose in front of me, and I was moved. A new
reality was revealed to me, secretly guarded by time, speed and space.
The territory of the Metropolis can be found, but it is not anchored. One
has to move, to be present in every moment, without getting too
attached to what may become visible in the landscape, and then finally
to allow being captured in the paradoxes and aberrations which unfold

Here, I arrived to the end of my epic, at the heart of the citadel, this
journey within me.


Mame-Diarra NIANG

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