Pro Bodyboarder Joana Schenker portrait at the beach  for the cafe interview


The Café Interviews 

"I needed to go behind the lines I was drawing on my computer".


with Anna Diallo 

ARCHITECT & SINGER

Anna is an Architect. If the job is already intrinsically interesting, the way she explores life and pushes her own boundaries makes her world exhilarating. We talked about her adventure in Ghana where she built a school with her bare hands, how liberating manual work feels, about the crazy world we live in, and the way she now explores her creativity through singing under the name "Seleminga". Enjoy the ride!
 

AS AN ARCHITECT? WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU CONSIDER WHEN STARTING A PROJECT? 

I like to understand the context before finding a concept. Getting deep into the living habits around the site in question. This process of getting deep into social cultures is one of the main reason why I am an architect. Then ask yourself: what was done before that could be done better now? What is still there and working? Where are the trees? Let’s try not to cut them! Why this project will make the people's life better?

YOU WENT ON A MISSION TO BUILD A SCHOOL IN A VILLAGE IN GHANA. WHAT WAS YOUR MOTIVATION?

Two Greek architects that I met through friends won a competition organized by the NKA Foundation. They were putting together a team and I applied. I went there to see the reality of a project especially to build something from my own hand. Sitting behind a computer all day is for me not architecture. I gave five weeks of my time to help building that school with a little budget, a little carbon footprint, but a big effect on the life of the community!


"I was pissed to be called a word that was meant to make a distinction between me and the others".

What was it like?

We were in a small village in north of Ghana called Sang. The nature was beautiful and the village very small and quiet with a lot of kids running everywhere. I loved that I had the chance to be introduced to the Ghanaian culture. I was living with a family from the village, where we had totally different lifestyles and languages (they spoke a dialect called « Dagbani »). Somehow we could still communicate, especially with the children. I taught them songs, drew their portraits, and played with them. 

WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN GHANA?

I was waking up very early and working only with my body. We were doing everything with our hands - including the concrete that we used for the foundation. This quickly became one of my favorite things to do! It doesn’t sound sexy, but somehow I felt peaceful while laying down concrete! 

The less funny thing is that I got really ill while there and lost a lot of energy in the process. Afterwards, I was sick often and couldn’t eat anything from the village. The last weeks I could only eat processed beans in cans… Illness, plus the concrete, plus the little sleep was hard for the body.

HAS THE EXPERIENCE CHANGED YOU IN ANY WAY? 

It brought me back to earth! I saw that people today still don't have access to clean and safe water. I could skype my family even in the forest, but taking showers and cooking wasn't so straightforward. We'd use rain water that was stocked in huge buckets and this was exposed to all kind of bacterias. A lot of people are dying from Cholera because of the water, but phones and internet are of course cheap and working well… we are really living in a crazy world!

YOUR FIRST EP "FEMME ALPHA" is coming out this month. why is it important for you to sing?

My job as an architect is really down to earth. With music I can express the hidden secrets of my brain. It is a relief and a medium to express my deepest feelings. And it just comes out better this way.

AND WHY SING UNDER THE NAME, "SELEMINGA"? 

In Ghana, everybody was calling me « Seleminga ». I didn’t know what it meant. One day, my host family told me it meant « the white », « the foreigner », I was pissed off to be called a word that was meant to make a distinction between me and the others. I chose this name as a way to claim « Yes I am a foreigner, I will always be the foreigner of someone somewhere. If I am white here, I will be black there." 


Snaps From The Python Edition Party

and a concert by Seleminga.


Anna's Inspiration List

Book: « L’aimant » from Lucas Harari it’s a comic and the whole story is inside the beautiful project of Zumthor, « Les thermes de Vals ».  

Music: « Paradise » from Sade, « Fukk Sleep » from Asap Rocky, « Why don’t you » from Cleo Sol and « The way it goes » from Kerri Chandler. 

Anna's fullEP "Femme Alpha" is coming out on April 15th discover the first releases here: https://fanlink.to/X-Seleminga
Photo credits: Antoine Grenez, Adele Boterf.


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