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Publication - Dr Ruth Bush

    Making history: Performances of the past at the 1966 World Festival of Negro Arts

    Citation

    Bush, R, 2016, ‘Making history: Performances of the past at the 1966 World Festival of Negro Arts’. in: David Murphy (eds) Performing Pan-Africanism: The First World Festival of Black and African Culture, Dakar 1966: contexts and legacies. Liverpool University Press, Liverpool

    Abstract

    The staging of African history at the 1966 World Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar marked a decisive shift from conference panels, round tables, and the dense columns of intellectual journals, to popular, experiential modes of cultural exchange on an unprecedented scale. This article considers that shift through analysis of three theatrical performances: Amadou Cissé Dia’s portrayal of national hero figures in Les Derniers Jours de Lat Dior; the site-specific Spectacle féerique de Gorée, scripted by Haitian poet Jean Brierre and performed daily on Gorée Island throughout the festival; and Wole Soyinka’s satire of dictatorial power and historical inertia, Kongi’s Harvest. Particular attention is paid to traces of audience reception and aspects of staging gleaned from the festival’s official archive and press dossiers held in the Senegalese National Archives. Against the official, Senghorian, discourse of cultural unity, this article highlights contemporary frictions between an imagined pan-African past, present, and future.

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