Senegal, the Land of TERANGA (Hospitality)

Unlike most countries in Africa, where political transition is often achieved through military coups, in Senegal, a vocal youth movement called Y EN A MARRE [FED UP], uses the power of Hip Hop, within the framework of a solid and dynamic civil society, to protect democratic transition. Senegal owes this exemplary approach to democracy to a number of factors that will be examined during the field trip: Senegal’s long apprenticeship of the “Republican” model inherited from the French Revolution and the humanistic leadership fostered by its first President, the poet and philosopher Leopold Sédar Senghor, who eloquently celebrated the rich traditions of his people (the oral epics and songs of different ethnic groups, a harmonious coexistence between traditional spirituality and imported religions) while promoting modern party politics and creative expressions. This process culminated in the establishment of a multiparty political system in 1980 and a free and vibrant expressive culture (written and oral literature, world-renowned cinema, traditional and modern music, plastic arts, and more).

The two-week field trip will provide ample opportunities to meet and discuss with writers like Cheikh Hamidou Kane, Aminata Sow Fall, and Boubacar Boris Diop. We will meet with artists and musicians, leaders of the various faiths practiced in the country, and leading experts on the challenges of nation-building, both in Dakar, the capital city, and in Saint-Louis, Senegal’s former capital. Saint-Louis is one of the country’s World Heritage sites and the location from which France conducted its expansion into territories such as Mauritania, the French Sudan (Mali) and Upper Volta (Burkina Faso) in the late 19th century.