Senegal Arts, Theater, and Cinema


The adhesion of the Senegalese populations to the Islamic religion, notoriously iconoclastic, has very limited the evolution of traditional art and determined the absence of figurative plastic, however allowing the development of a flourishing handicraft (objects in worked leather, pottery), such as that of the Muslim Fulbe shepherds. In addition to the archaeological finds (gold and copper jewelry) from the pre-Islamic tombs of the serer group, the important production of the diola, on the Gambia, should be mentioned, which consists of particular masks worn by young people during the rituals of initiation, studded with reds. grains of abrus, with straws instead of eyes and with applications of animal horns. As for the architecture, what remains of colonial architecture is very interesting, like the forts of Bakel and Podor. The most internationally famous architect is Pierre Goudiaby Atepa (b. 1947): he designed the West Africa Central Bank building, modeled on the shape of a baobab.


According to allunitconverters, the creation of a French-language theater dates back to student performances, held first at the Saint-Louis Normal School for Masters (founded in 1903), with a French repertoire, then at the William-Ponty Normal School in Gorée, which he saw, in 1933, the first comedy written by Africans on an African subject: La dernière entrevue de Béhanzin et Bayol (The last meeting of Béhanzin and Bayol). From 1935 to 1937 this theater presented historical dramas and costume comedies in Dakar and, in 1937, in Paris, with great success. Since independence, Dakar occupies a prominent place in the entertainment world: it was home to the first World Festival of Black Arts (1966), has a large theater with African and international repertoire and has an instrumental group of griots traditional. Sidi Ahmed Cheikh Ndao (b. 1933) is the most prominent dramatic author. Abdou Anta Ka (b.1931), M’Baye Gana Kébé (b.1936), Tierno Ba, DA Cissé (b.1915), M. Seyni M’Bengué (b.1925) and Fofana Moctar are authors of historical dramas and satirical comedies of manners that emphasize political commitment. § Senegal has established itself as one of the poles of the new African culture and Dakar, due to the presence of a large university, libraries, publishing houses, an institute of humanistic and scientific studies and research such as the Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire (IFAN, founded since 1936), is an important center of literary life, thought and research in black Africa.


Senegalese cinema has its origins in Paris, where in 1955-56 the “pioneer” Paulin Vieyraun made a short documentary on students, Afrique-sur-Seine, which was followed by other short films, made in his homeland. Among these we remember Lamb (1963), on the national sport of wrestling, who toured the European “weeks” together with the documentary Grand Magal à Touba (1961) by Blaise Senghor, on a pilgrimage. In 1963 the novelist Ousmane Sembène began his activity as a director, dominating the panorama not only nationally, while in the sixties they made their debut, limited to documentaries and short films, Momar Thiam, Ababacar Samb, Djibril Diop and Tidiane Aw. In 1969, with the short film The Girl Mahama Traoré, the second notable filmmaker from Senegal, also made his debut, who in 1970 switched to color feature film with La donna. With lucid Marxism he waged a battle against the contradictions and imbalances of society, the arbitrators of power and the legacies of colonialism in the documentary on Dakar, La ville en dur (1972), banned by censorship, in Lambaye (1973), comedy on corruption inspired by the Revisor of Gogol, and especially in the censored N’Diangane (1974), strong attack on marabouts and those who bend the Muslim religion to practices of economic, cultural and political oppression. Sembène’s censored 1974 film, Xala, also alludes to internal and foreign neocolonialism, but the one that actually had a real stimulating effect on the black continent, with a halt to quality production in Senegal, is Ceddo (1977), a new attack on Sembène’s religious colonialism. In films with commercial ambitions, M. Thiam (Karim, 1971; Baks, 1974, on drugs), A. Samb (Kodou, 1971), T. Aw (The bronze bracelet, 1974) and others, but none with results comparable to those of Sembène and Traoré. It should also be noted the presence of a woman filmmaker, Safi Faye, author in 1975 of a remarkable film on village life and problems, Peasant Letter. At the beginning of the Eighties, with Jom (1981) by Ababacar Samb Makharam, Senegalese cinema returned to the limelight of the great international festivals, especially Cannes. In fact, however, it is always thanks to Sembène’s work that we can speak of qualitative affirmation, in particular with Campos de Thiaroye (1987), shot in couple with Thiorno Faty Sow and presented in Venice. In the last decades of the century. XX finally a third generation of filmmakers has made its way, including Moussa Touré with Toubab bi (1992), a tender story about some emigrants in Paris, and Moussa Sène Absa with Tableau Ferraille (1997). In 2004 Sembène shot his latest film, Moolaadé, which deals with the burning problem of female genital mutilation. New names in Senegalese cinema are M. Wade, A. Diallo and A. Seck.

Senegal Arts

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