HIGHLIGHT: Dr Victoria Rovine

HIGHLIGHT

Dr Victoria Rovine, Art History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill: “Africa, Fashion Design and Colonial History: The Surprising Power of Clothing”

An Associate Professor of Art History at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Dr Victoria Rovine made this presentation at the West African Research Center on Wednesday, June 7, 2017, from 3pm to 4:30pm. The session was moderated by a young Senegalese woman filmmaker and design specialist, Mrs Fatou Kande Senghor.

From left to right: Fatou Kandé Senghor and Dr Rovine

From left to right: Fatou Kandé Senghor and Dr Rovine

The ironic but extremely inspiring high watermark of the event was that Fatou Kande has been working on style and design and integrating various components in her films and also her teachings based on the many articles and the books written by Professor Rovine she has been reading over all these years and the two of them discovered the hidden and unknown connection while sitting and exchanging during and after the presentation.
Dr Rovine’s presentation and research publications generated a high level of interest among attendees because of the importance of dress, dressing and clothes in West Africa in general, and in Senegal in particular but also because of the colonial origins of a number of materials (wax, fancy) regularly used by Senegalese and other west african women and so expertly acclimatized here to the point of passing as local production.

A partial view of the audience

A partial view of the audience

The presentation was followed by lively and insightful exchanges between the UNC Chapel Hill faculty member and the audience.

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HIGHLIGHT : Chef Pierre Thiam Senegalese and West African Cuisine

Chef Pierre Thiam

Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl

On Wednesday June 7th, the WARC videoconference room hosted a lively presentation on Senegalese and West African cuisine and on efforts to valorize and further market local produce, cereals, vegetables and fruits. The gathering was jointly organized by the Dakar Women’s Group (professional women expatriates or diplomats’ spouses) and the West African Research Center (WARC).

 

The speaker of the day was Chef Pierre Thiam. Chef Thiam, who is known around the world as the ambassador of West African cuisine, headed up the 2017 Tastes of West Africa Culinary Institute that took place in Senegal in February.  His restaurant, Nok at Alara, in Lagos continues to receive rave reviews.IMG_5427

The session opened with questions from Professor Barbara Syrrakos, of City College of New York. Presently on sabbatical in Senegal and also a member of the Dakar Women’s Group. In his answers, Chef Thiam retold the story of his leaving Senegal in the mid-seventies to go and try his luck in US higher education institutions. He ended up working in a restaurant as a waiter, became fascinated by cooking and the art of the cook, and ended up becoming a chef. Chef Thiam spoke eloquently about Senegalese cuisine and the need to preserve traditional recipes, which are particularly healthy. He also insisted on the re-introduction and valorization of local produces, vegetables, fruits and roots for their nutritional quality and richness but also as an effort to keep people healthy.

 

The session was attended by a very eager public who raised many interesting questions expertly fielded by Chef Thiam.

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HIGHLIGHT Sembene across the continent

HIGHLIGHT
Warc, Galle Ceddo, Cacsen and Daaray Semben launch Sembene Across the Continent celebrating the 10th anniversary of the filmmaker’s death.

The West African Research Center(WARC), on Tuesday, June 6, 2017,convened and hosted a press conference to advertise a major event scheduled to kick off on Friday June 9 to celebrate the achievements of the Father of African Cinema, Sembene Ousmane.Célébrons...-_-Flyer-A5
The press conference featured Professor Samba Gadjigo(Mount Holyoke College, Mass. USA) author of several books and articles on Sembene and of the celebrated documentary titled Sembene!, sitting next to well-known Senegalese filmmakers Ben Diogaye Beye and Mansour Sora Wade.
Reporters were informed that for three days running (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, June 9, 10, 11) the documentary Sembene! will be shown in up to 35 african countries. In Senegal, the same documentary will be shown along with well-known films by Sembene such as Gelwaar, Emitai, Mandat-Bi, La Noire de….in various locations including the capital Dakar, Pikine, Guediawaye, Saint Louis, Thies, Tambacounda, Toubacouta, Sokone etc…..

From left to right: Prof Sene, WARC Director; Prof Samba Gadjigo, Mount Holyoke College & Galle Ceddo; Mme Fatou Kande Senghor, activist and filmmaker

From left to right: Prof Sene, WARC Director; Prof Samba Gadjigo, Mount Holyoke College & Galle Ceddo; Mme Fatou Kande Senghor, activist and filmmaker

Events in Senegal are jointly organized by the West African Research Center (WARC), Galle Ceddo (established in the USA), Cacsen and Dararay Sembene(Senegal)

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HIGHLIGHT: Emiley Riley

HIGHLIGHT : Researchers’ Mini Seminars  

Emily Riley, Phd (Michigan State University: Teranga and Hospitality as the Foundation of the Senegalese Nation and of Political and Religious Practices in Dakar
The subject of this mini seminar held at the West African Research Center on Thursday, June 1, 2017, from 3pm to 4:30pm, is also the topic of the anthropology dissertation which Emily Riley completed and submitted to faculty at the State University of Michigan (MSU). Over four years, Emily regularly came to Dakar as a Warc affiliate to research the subject which is a very important feature of Senegalese social life and values.

From left to right: Pr Ousmane Sène, WARC Director, Emily Riley, MSU & Mamarame Seck, IFAN

From left to right: Pr Ousmane Sène, WARC Director, Emily Riley, MSU & Mamarame Seck, IFAN

The Wolof word “teranga” is a noun derived from the verb “teral” meaning to treat a guest decently – royally most of the time – and the Senegalese people actually pride themselves with the consumate art of making visitors feel completely at home.

The treat however has a cost, and a very high one sometime, which may cause the Senegalese to overspend, incur debts and find themselves in trying economic circumstances sometimes. This may lead to the conclusion that the teranga practice is economically counter-productive as it depletes savings which, otherwise, could be invested instead of being wasted for the contentment of neighbors, relatives, friends and sycophants.
Emily Riley, an American researcher thoroughly familarized with Senegalese culture, expertly introduced the subject and engaged the audience in a lively exercise of questions and answers seasoned with in-depth contributions.
The event was attended by some 30 people including visiting researchers and scholars, local academics, graduate students and Emily’s many Senegalese friends.

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HIGHLIGHT Festival Salam

HIGHLIGHT
Salam Festival on Sufi Music: UNC North Carolina, UCAD Dakar, GFM Dakar and WARC Dakar team up to boost the academic component of the event.
Every year(for the last three years), during the month of Ramadan, the celebrated Senegalese music star Youssou Ndour and his media group GFM hold, for over ten days, a festival of sacred music in Senegal with the participation of music groups hailing from Senegal, Morocco, Mauritania and several other Muslim countries.

From left to right: Mr Youssou Ndour; Prof Ibrahima Thioub, Rector, UCAD; University of North Carolina delegates: Prof Carl Earnst and Michael A. Figueroa; Moroccan Ambassador in Senegal

From left to right: Mr Youssou Ndour; Prof Ibrahima Thioub, Rector, UCAD; University of North Carolina delegates: Prof Carl Earnst and Michael A. Figueroa; Moroccan Ambassador in Senegal

For the 2017 edition, the initiator had earlier expressed the desire to give the event a more established academic component. In this respect, University Cheikh Anta Diop, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and the West African Research Center (WARC) were approached. That is why this year’s Salam Festival kicked off with a three-day symposium on Sufi Zikr performance.

Fifteen participants from Turkey, twelve from the United States(chiefly from UNC Chapel Hill) have been exchanging, on the issue since yesterday Monday June 5 in the main amphitheater of University Cheikh Anta Diop campus on various themes such as Sufi Figures, Forces and Localities, Sufi Geneses and Genealogies, Sufi Voices etc…..

WARC Director in conversation with Youssou Ndour

WARC Director in conversation with Youssou Ndour

Meanwhile and for over ten days, every evening the Senegalese capital Grand Theatre, Daniel Sorano National Theatre still in Dakar and many other meeting squares in the capital and other parts of the country will be enlivened with the rapturous chants and songs from Senegalese, Turkish, Moroccan, Mauritanian religious singers.

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Highlight : Religion in West Africa

Religion in West Africa:
Cosmopolitanism, Faith Communities & the Social Fabric
West Africa’s Women of God

A lecture by Professor Robert M. Baum, Dartmouth College

On Thursday, March 2, 2017, WARA in conjunction with the Boston University African Studies Center, hosted its semi-annual Religion in West Africa lecture series. Robert Baum, former WARA board member and Professor of Religion at Dartmouth College spoke on women and the prophetic tradition among the Diola of West Africa.

Professor Baum’s lecture explored the life of the Diola prophet, Alinesitoue Diatta. Frequently portrayed as a secular political figure whose critique of colonial policy—particularly agricultural policy—and its impact on the Diola made her somewhat of a resistance figure, Alinesitoue was also a prophet of Emitai, the supreme being. The message she conveyed identified colonial agricultural policies with their focus on cash crops and peanut production as eroding the Diola way of life, creating disparities in wealth in what was essentially an egalitarian society, and eroding the community practice of religious ritual—all in turn contributing to the ills besetting the community. Her critique of colonial policy has made of Alinesitoue a sort of culture hero in Senegal for this resistance.

Professor Baum focused on Alinesitoue’s role as a prophet, someone who consciously receives messages from God and who consciously and intentionally conveys those messages to a larger community—this, in contract to seers, or others who serve as mediums for the divine message. Alinesitoue made it clear that Emitai, the Diola supreme being, had given the message directly to her and commanded her to convey it to others. Alinesitoue is distinct also in being a female prophet, a tradition that has become largely female, although it was, in its origins, exclusively male.

Professor Baum also noted that Emitai, the supreme being worshipped by the Diola, contasts sharply with received ideas about African traditional religion, in which God is seen as a distant creator, not involved in the day-to-day lives of humans.

Professor Baum’s presentation was followed by a lively discussion with the audience, composed of faculty and students.

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HIGHLIGHT: Black History Month at WARC

HIGHLIGHT :  Black History Month at WARC

The West African Research Center’s mandate, among others, calls for the promotion of inter-cultural and cross-cultural dialogue and the celebration of the Diaspora. That is why, every year, the month of February is marked at WARC by a number of activities focusing on Africa and the Black Diaspora and including public lectures and film screenings.

February 2017 was no exception and films such as the newly released The Birth of a Nation (by Nate Parker), Monster’s Ball (by Lee Daniels) were shown to a much appreciative audience all over the month.

From left to right: Pr Abdoulaye Bathily, Pr Boubacar Barry & Pr Aminata Diaw Cissé

From left to right: Pr Abdoulaye Bathily, Pr Boubacar Barry & Pr Aminata Diaw Cissé

The high watermark for this year was certainly the public lecture offered by the world -known and universally acclaimed historian Professor Boubacar Barry on his favorite topic, Senegambia.
The lecture titled The Greater Senegambia: Past, Present and Future followed the unfortunate developments which beset The Republic of the Gambia a few weeks before. Professor Barry’s talk amply demonstrated the historical links which connected all the various countries of West Africa and strongly advocated the emergence of larger and more sustainable political units in the sub-region. The talk was attended by a large public including prominent political leaders, academics, researchers, members of the Civil Society, media specialists etc…numbering 196 people.

A view of the audience

A view of the audience

The lecture was also a tribute paid to Professor Boubacar Barry who, on January 6, 2017, was honored and distinguished by his peers in the American Historical Association gathered in Colorado.

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HIGHLIGHT Book Launch: Ahmet Diouf

HIGHLIGHT :  Book Launch: Ahmet Diouf: La gens de droit maternel ou la famille matriarcale  (L’Harmattan-Senegal, 2016)

This Thursday, March 2, from 4pm to 7pm, the open space of the West African Research Center (WARC) was full to overflow on the occasion of the launch of a seminal essay on matriarchy recently published by Ahmet Diouf, Public Prosecutor in the Senegalese supreme court.

A view of the audience

A view of the audience

Prominent officials in the Senegalese judiciary attended the event along with academics, researchers and many graduated students because the author is also adjunct faculty at University Cheikh Anta and a talented researcher on issues pertaining to the judiciary.

The book launch ceremony offered a high profile panel including sociologists, anthropologists and law specialists who traced back matriarchy to Ancient Egypt and pre-islamic and pre-colonial West Africa thus showing that there existed on the continent rules and regulations centering on matriarchy and which gave birth to strong and sustainable socio-political organisations.

The panelists

The panelists

Sociologists like Fatou Sow Dembel, Fatou Sow Sarr and Abdou Salam Fall, Cheikh Niang, an anthropologist, and Fatou Kine Camara, a law specialist, gave the audience substantial food for thought and urged academics and decision-makers to consider adjusting our curricula, administrative set ups and other state legislations to time-old practices which made of many parts of Africa well-regulated and well-organized political entities. In many of those, especially in West Africa, matriarchy was the sustaining pillar of socio-political organisation.

The event was attended by no less than 146 people.

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Highlight on US Election

WARC Public Lectures –  Tuesday,  October 25, 2016

Le Processus Electoral Américain et la Femme politicienne dans le Système Electoral  Américain

Steven Ekovich, Professor of History and Political Science at the American University in Paris, guest speaker at the WARC Public Lecture Series, was introduced by the newly appointed Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Dakar, Mrs Martina Boustani.

WARC Director & the speaker, Professor Steven Ekovich

WARC Director & the speaker, Professor Steven Ekovich

Professor Ekovich began his talk on women in electoral politics in the United States by highlighting various first ladies who played upfront political roles while their husbands were in office. One case, among several others cited, was that of Eleonore Roosevelt. He also mentioned the 20 women presently sitting in the U.S. Senate, and the fact that 20 percent of the members of the House of Representatives is composed of women.
According to Profewssor Ekovich, opinion polls in 1937 showed that 33 per cent of the American people would welcome a woman president; by 1996 that percentage had risen to 96 per cent. He also underlined the role of women as voters: for the last 50 years more women have been voting than men.

Professor Ekovich then turned to the current presidential campaign, noting the unusually confrontational tone and mood. He explained for the audience the electoral colleges, grand electors, swing states, and the importance of states such as Florida and California in the final outcome of the election, which will take place on November 8.

A view of the audience

A view of the audience

The presentation was followed by lively discussion moderated by the WARC Director. Professor Ekovich fielded questions and offered insightful comments on the topic. The presentation was attended by more than 30 people.

 

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Highlight NMAAHC

The US Diplomatic Mission in Senegal & the West African Research Center (WARC) Join to Celebrate the Opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

On the afternoon of Friday September 23rd, the multi-media conference room of the West African Research Center (WARC) was filled to capacity.

A view of the audience

A view of the audience

More than 60 men and women came to WARC to attend the learn more about the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), officially inaugurated by President Obama on Saturday, September 24th in Washington, D.C. The event opened with introductory words from Mr. Robert Post, the US Embassy Public Affairs Officer. Mr. Post highlighted the contribution of the Museum to the appreciation and preservation of the American collective experience. He was followed by the Director of WARC, who took a few minutes to present a survey of the history of the African American community.

This was followed by a comprehensive presentation by the anthropology professor, Dr Ibrahima Thiaw (IFAN-UCAD), who elaborated on the various collaborative efforts between the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. and local institutions such as IFAN.

L to R: Ousmane Sène, WARC Director, Robert Post , PAO US Embassy, and Dr.Ibrahima Thiaw, IFAN

L to R: Ousmane Sène, WARC Director, Robert Post , PAO US Embassy, and Dr.Ibrahima Thiaw, IFAN

He placed special emphasis on the Slave Wrecks project now being implemented through a strong partnership between the Smithsonian, WARC and IFAN. The various presentations were followed by contributions and questions from the audience, which was composed of prominent faculty, intellectuals, reporters, researchers and students.

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