The Tropical Holiday Season

Johannes Raatz - Senegal


April 22, 2011

As did many of the other Senegalese GCY fellows, I traveled to Dakar early, ahead of our December monthly meeting. Three extra nights in the city allowed me to take advantage of the Festival of Black Arts and Culture. Ongoing throughout the month of December, it was the third time such a festival was organized in Senegal; the others being in 1966 and 1977.

Dakar’s monuments, plazas, museums, and cultural centers were bustling with a profusion of varying art forms. Open air concerts, for example, featured the sounds of the local mbalax, Afro-Cuban jazz and blues, reggae, pop, and other styles which I don’t think I could sufficiently label with any genre I have ever heard of.

Artists from South Africa to Louisiana presented their inspiring works. Dance, fashion design, photography, film, verse and prose are only a small sampling of all the creative creation on display during the festival.

Included are two videos. One contains clips from a concert which Jake Filderman and I attended on our first night in town. The other, captures a conversation with a cabdriver while riding with Kedisha Samuels and Madeleine Balchan on our way to the Muse de Theodor Monde. In mixed French and Wolof, we discuss various reasons for and difficulties caused by polygamy in Senegal.

Johannes Raatz