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Def Dance Jams

In this group project, we will be photographing areas in Harlem that show the Hip-Hop and African culture. We're trying to see if both cultures merge together or stay separate. Some of the shots we're thinking of capturing are the drummers playing on 125th and Lenox as well as the Muslim youth on 116th and Lenox. We plan to observe our surroundings more than we usually do. We're keeping an eye out for African fabric stores and the latest Hip-Hop fashion trends.



Mendiani is a social dance of the Malinke people of Guinea and Mali, West Africa. It is performed by young girls between the ages of 4 and 9 before she reaches puberty. Usually it is performed by the best female dancer of a village within that age group. The dance gets it's name from a young girl named Manjani who was the best best dancer from her village in Guinea in the 1950's. "Mendiani" also spelled "Mandiani" or "Manjani".

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Kuku is a celebratory dance from the Manian people of Guinea. It is performed by women when they return to their village from fishing.


Sunnu is a dance from the ancient Mali empire. Sunnu is performed by the Manding people at weddings to celebrate the feminity of the bride. Sunnu is also performed after a good harvest and sometimes by young men to show their strength and vitality. The dance gets it's name from a girl named Sounoumba to honor her.


Gumbe is a celebratory dance from the Samou area of southern Guinea. Gumbe is performed after a good harvest to give thanks for a bountiful crop.

Guinea Lamban

Lamban is a celebratory dance performed by the Mande people of Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, the Gambia and Senegal. Lamban was created as music on the balafon by and for djelis to celebrate their role as keepers of the oral tradition. Traditionally lamban was performed in the courts of kings or to announce the arrival of a king to a village. Currently lamban is danced to celebrate rites of passages such as birth, circumcision, puberty, weddings and death. Guinea lamban is a faster, more spirited version of lamban.

Articles & Statical Info

Malian Culture in Harlem

An influx of Malian immigrants to New York began in the late 1980s, during the height and aftermath of Mali’s dictatorship. Famine, school closings and a failing economy sent many Malians in search of economic and educational opportunities, said Fatoumata Diarra, a Malian accountant at the United Nations. Because Mali is a former French colony, many Malians migrated to France to avoid language barriers. But France couldn’t accommodate all those who wanted to immigrate, so some Malians found it easier to get an American visa. Harlem became an ideal destination, Diarra says, with its low rents and large African-American population. Malians who could speak English often found jobs as cabdrivers.

Statemaster Immigration Statistics

Immigration Statistics > Refugees from Burkina Faso (most recent) by state

Little Senegal: Conversation with Senegalese Immigrants

The Association estimates that there are 18,000 Senegalese currently living in New York City. Immigrants from Senegal arrived in New York City as early as the late 1970s and quickly gained a reputation as street vendors, ubiquitous and always armed with discounted sunglasses and cassette tapes. According to Diafoune, a large portion of these early immigrants was uneducated and had entered the country without documentation. However, key federal legislation widened both the number and the profile of Senegalese immigrants. Most notably in 1990, the Immigration Act increased the number of employment visas available, and instituted a Diversity Visa Lot-tery program meant to provide more visas to underrepresented countries. After 1990, immigrants from Senegal to New York City were increasingly younger, more educated (an estimated 65% of immigrants after 1990 had at least a high school diploma) and interested in attending school in the United States. Ousseyhou Ndiaye is one of these “second-wave” immigrants.

Little Senegal Wiki

Le Petit Sénégal, or Little Senegal, is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan. It has been called Le Petit Senegal by the West African immigrant community and Little Senegal by some people from outside the neighborhood. Le Petit Senegal is a smaller section of the much larger, and older, neighborhood of Harlem. The neighborhood's exact borders are difficult to define as it is still new, growing from nonexistent in 1985 to 6,500 by 2005. Le Petit Senegal is generally defined as located in Central Harlem. The neighborhood's main streets are the blocks surrounding W. 116th Street between Lenox/Malcom X Avenue on the east and Frederick Douglas Avenue to the west.

Le Petit Senegal is the main shopping and social area for many of Harlem's West African immigrants. The majority of these recent immigrants hail from (partially) French speaking Senegal, reflecting the French local name of Little Senegal. However, African languages, such as Wolof, are also spoken in this part of Manhattan. There are also immigrants from other West African countries, including Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Gambia, and Burkina Faso. West African stores, restaurants, bistros, bakeries, cafes, and other proprietorships can be found in the neighborhood.

African Immigrants in the United States

Migration Information: charts,

African Immigration from 1980-2009

Table 2: Black African Immigrants by Country of Origin, United States, 1980 to 2008-2009