As a child growing up in the Senegalese city of St. Louis, Alioune Diagne thought that Battling Siki, a rather notorious local bar, was named after a type of firearm or brand of alcohol. It was many years later when Alioune, now an established international dancer, choreographer and festival director, discovered the real story behind Battling Siki.
Amadou Mbarick Fall was abducted from St. Louis as a child in the early 20th century. Abandoned in France, he started a boxing career under the name Battling Siki and became the world’s light heavyweight champion after defeating Georges Carpentier. He volunteered to fight for the French army in the first world war and was killed by police in 1925 in Hell’s Kitchen, New York.
Here was another forgotten story about an African hero that needed to be told, by an African. In his piece Siki, Alioune brings him back to life and reflects on the parallels (and perils) of young Africans leaving home – then and now.
Siki was performed in Paris in July 2015, as part of Africa Acts, a weeklong event dedicated to performance art in Africa and her diasporas, curated by Dominique Malaquais and Caroline Roussy.
Alioune’s Duo Solo Festival
Vimeo channel of la Compagnie Diagn’Art
This episode is supported by an ANT Mobility Grant from Pro Helvetia Johannesburg financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).