In April 1966 thousands of artists, musicians, performers, and writers from across Africa and its diaspora gathered in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, to take part in the First World Festival of Black and African Culture (Premier Festival Mondial des arts nègres). The festival constituted a highly symbolic moment both in the era of decolonization and the push for civil rights for African Americans in the United States. In essence, the festival sought to perform an emerging Pan-African culture, to give concrete cultural expression to the ties that would bind the African “homeland” to black people in the diaspora. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the 1966 event, the editors of this special issue held a conference at Florida State University that sought to examine the festival and its multiple legacies, with the aim of promoting a better understanding of both the utopianism of the period following World War II and the “festivalization” of Africa that has occurred in recent decades.
- cultural festivals