Annotated by
Judith Wielander

Sowing Somankidi Coura: A Generative Archive


Raphaël Grisey, Bouba Touré


Archive Books



In 1965, at the age of 17, Touré left the newly founded republic of Mali, and travelled to the capital of its former colonizer, France, to work in the car industry, underpaid and with an unsustainable number of working hours. After purchasing a small Kodak Retinette, he started to document the precarious working and living conditions of migrant workers and their struggles. In 1975/76 he and several members of the independent Association Culturel des Travailleurs Africains (Cultural Association of African Workers) decided to engage in farming in the region of Haute-Marne. In 1977, Touré along with fourteen former activist migrant workers founded the agricultural cooperative Somankidi Coura on the shore of the Senegal River. They decided to propose an alternative way of thinking and subsistence agriculture (une agriculture vivrière/ouvrier) meant to provide alimentary self-sufficiency. Somankidi Coura has and is driven by a strong socialist ideal of self-sustainment, inter-dependence and connectedness. Today, the cooperative is run by around five hundred people representing an extraordinary example of agriculture as a site of resistance, including cooperatives that generate healthy rural self-organised communities. The local school building houses Touré’s photographic archive of Somankidi Coura’s development throughout the decades, to inspire other communities in building new planetary alternatives based on practices of soil care. Sowing Somankidi Coura: A Generative Archive is a long-term research endeavour by the French artist Raphaël Grisey in collaboration with Bouba Touré and other co-founders of the cooperative around the permacultures and archives of Somankidi Coura. JW

"This theatre play traces my life in the village and my life as a migrant. What are the
reasons that push young Africans to quite their environment? They are identical for all the
youth from Senegal, Mali, Mauritania or from the Senegal river banks. This theatre play
hasn’t been written in order to accuse anybody. But simply in order to inform to better