In search of Maam Kumba Bang

For the last few weeks I have been on a residency in Senegal on the island city of Saint Louis. Following threads and ideas for making new work but also exploring superstitions and traditions from the place and capturing new images with old technology. One tradition that fascinates me is that of Maam Kumba Bang a spirit or goddess that is linked to the Senegal river here and its path to the nearby sea. She is a protective force and a symbol of identity for people locally.


“Kumba is not only a common Wolof female name but one that bears quintessentially ethnic or local ‘country marks’. For instance of the four Senegalese ‘communes’ of early French colonial assimilation (St.Louis, Goree island, Dakar and Rufisque) three remain guarded by Atlantic river mouth siren genies named Kumba.

Maam Kumba Bang – of the Old French capital and slave depot of saint Louis

Maam Kumba Kastel – of the slave depot of Goree island

Maam Kumba Lambay – of Rusfique

Kumba appears to be both the orphan traveller and the initiate djinn/genius of a Wolof sublime.”

Keith Cartwright – Sacral Grooves, Limbo Gateways, Travels in Deep Southern Time – 1960

Here are a few images made in Saint Louis using a Box Brownie and Ilford Multigrade IV black and white photographic paper on long exposure.






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