Culture, development, and the African Renaissance: Ousmane Sembene and Léopold Senghor at the World Festival of Negro Arts (Dakar 1966)

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The Premier Festival Mondial des arts nègres [First World Festival of Negro Arts] took place in Dakar from 1-24 April 1966: it was organized in the middle of a period extending from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s during which a wide range of organiszations and events—cultural, sporting and political—informed by panAfricanist ideals were created. For instance, the 1966 festival was followed by major pan-African cultural festivals in Algiers (Algeria) in 1969 and in Lagos (Nigeria) in 1977. The international forum provided by the Dakar Festival showcased a wide array of arts and was attended by such celebrated luminaries as Duke Ellington, Josephine Baker, Aimé Césaire, André Malraux and Wole Soyinka. Described by its principal architect, Senegalese President Léopold Sédar Senghor, as “the elaboration of a new humanism which this time will include all of humanity on the whole of our planet earth” (cited in Flather 1966, 57), the festival sought to emphasize the significance of culture and the arts in defining a global role for Africa in the aftermath of empire. In particular, the Festival was designed as a showcase for Senghor’s concept of Negritude as the fundamental expression of “black” identity, one that highlighted rhythm, spontaneity and emotion, and also a certain understanding of art as “high culture”.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOusmane Sembène and the Politics of Culture
EditorsLifoongo J. Vetinde, Amadou T. Fofana
Place of PublicationLanham, MD
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2014


  • African Renaissance
  • Ousmane Sembene
  • Léopold Senghor

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