Senegal Culture and Art

Senegal Culture and Art

The cultural values of Senegal and Central Europe differ considerably, and intercultural misunderstandings inevitably arise, especially at the beginning of a stay. Newcomers almost inevitably violate the cultural customs of their host country more than once and it is useful to know the essential differences between the Senegalese and a Western culture and to consider important behavioral tips.

As a rule, the Senegalese do not let you know if you behave inappropriately in their eyes; values such as politeness and “Teranga” (traditional Senegalese hospitality) are valued too highly. It is always good when European newcomers find friends or acquaintances early on who are also familiar with Western ways of life and with whom the relationship of trust is high enough that they help you to get around major cultural hurdles.

The Senegalese art and culture scene is extremely lively and diverse. Of the state, there is little support, but to finance a variety of international foundations and foreign donors as well as some pan-African programs cultural activities. New is the Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar, which is the first museum of its kind to show the creative power of black civilizations.

Most famous abroad is the Senegalese music scene with the world star and current Minister for Culture and Tourism Youssou Ndour, the “King of Mbalax”. This pop music is very popular in Senegal, one of 16 countries located in Western Africa according to hyperrestaurant. There is also hip-hop among young people. In vogue, along with New York and Paris, Dakar is the city with the greatest density of hip-hop crews. In addition, traditional music remains an integral part of life, griots animate family ceremonies or women engage percussionists for traditional dance evenings (sabars).

Traditional dances are also a fixed part of various ceremonies and thus of everyday life, but Senegal also has a very lively scene with modern dance companies and hosts the dance festival “Kaay Fecc” (Wolof: Come dance) every two years.

The Francophone literature of Senegal also enjoys a high international reputation, from the pioneers like Ousmane Sembene, Mariama Bâ, Aminata Sow Fall, Leopold Sedar Senghor to younger representatives like the much-received in Germany Fatou Diome or grown in France Franko -Senegalese Marie Ndiaye, who was awarded the prestigious Prix Goncourt French literature prize in 2009.

Of course, in a country with such a high illiteracy rate, literature remains an egalitarian issue; Ousmane Sembène thus explained his turning away from literature to cinema.

Abroad, Senegalese cinema is mainly associated with the names Ousmane Sembene and Djibril Diop Mambety, but younger representatives such as Moussa Touré or Moussa Sène Absa also achieved international acclaim. Unfortunately, due to the lack of consistent film funding, it is almost impossible for young talents to get to the top and there are hardly any cinemas anymore that could show domestic (or foreign) films.

Theatrical performances, mostly folk comedies or less often didactic or agitation theater, take place mainly in the national languages. Many of these troops distribute their productions on VCD cassettes on the streets (and, like the film and music industries, are confronted with a rampant pirate industry).

The Daniel Sorano National Theater, built under Senghor, is mostly empty, but in 2011 the construction of a gigantic new national theater was completed with Chinese funding, one of the prestige projects and “7 wonders” of ex-President Wade to be built.

The visual arts are also strongly represented. Often the works and styles are too similar for a modern understanding of art, but there are also some really interesting artists whose studios are usually open to those interested. Artists such as Soly Cissé, Kan-Si, Mamadou Ndoye Ndouts or Piniang also often exhibit in Europe; Forefathers like Ousmane Sow or Iba Ndiaye no longer have to be introduced to a public interested in art.

One of the most important cultural events is the Biennale for Contemporary African Art, which brings artists and journalists from all over the world to Dakar.

There is little room in official cultural policy for the promotion of young independent artists, but efforts are made to realize gigantic projects such as the 7 wonders mentioned above, the new edition of the Festival Mondial des Arts Nègres, which finally took place in December 2010 after countless postponements (and whose financial management, like many other projects of the Wade era, is facing a review today) or the construction of a 50 m high statue of the “African rebirth” based on the designs of ex-President Wade.

Nevertheless, there is a lively and lively cultural scene.

Viewed from some quarters, the statue of the African rebirth looks like a mockery

Viewed from some quarters, the statue of the African rebirth looks like a mockery