Fatoumata Sy, the doll maker

Let me introduce you to  Fatoumata Sy,  Mom’s tourondo(1) and our “real life” mom, because she’s the one who makes us, with Ibrahima Niang‘s help. These two craftspeople team up to create Senegalese dolls.

Fatoumata Sy lives and works on Goree island, several kilometers off the coast from Dakar. This is also where SaDunya’s founders met her for the first time, when she was selling dolls in her little stall. We, the Ndiaye family dolls, had already taken shape in their heads, but they hadn’t found the right person to craft us. The quality of Fatoumata’s work, along with her generosity and kindness, won them over and, after their first meeting, they went back to her to ask her to create the characters they had dreamed up for SaDunya. That is how we were born.
Fatoumata first cuts and sews our clothes, and then dresses us. Next, she attends to the finishing touches, such as grafting (adding) my hair to my head, doing Mamie’s braids – she braids at the speed of lightening – and setting the gourd on my mom’s head.
My favorite part is when she combs and combs my hair after fastening it to my head, to make it very shiny and smooth, and make me beautiful.

(1) In Senegal, a child often takes the name of somebody close to the family, making him or her the child’s “tourondo” (namesake).

Aby Ndiaye


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