La Grande Maison
Tang’s article, “My Foreparents used to Beat the Drums” discusses the three prominent sabar percussionist families in Senegal. One of these families is the Mbaye family, who has resided in a middle class quarter next to one of the most densely populated cities in Dakar since 1976. This home is referred to as “grande maison”, and is typical of a gewel household: busy, active, and always having an element of chaos and disorder. The house includes a small courtyard where families members socialize and greet visitors as they enter the compound. A salon, or living room, is at the entrance of the compound, and is where guests are normally received and the head of the household, Macheikh Mbaye, are usually found. There is a kitchen area and seven other bedrooms, and a “chambre de sabar” where the drums are kept. At any given time there are 15-20 people living in the house as family is extremely important in the gewel community and in Wolof culture as a whole. Additionally, because the household is well known throughout the community as a house of gewel, people routinely come over to obtain the services of percussion for baptisms, etc.