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Author: Mamadou Diouf
Title: Wall Paintings and the Writing of History: Set/Setal in Dakar
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Source: Wall Paintings and the Writing of History: Set/Setal in Dakar
Mamadou Diouf

vol. 2, no. 1, 2005

Wall Paintings and the Writing of History: Set/Setal in Dakar

Mamadou Diouf

The following remarks refer to contemporary Senegalese history. That is, they are a contribution to reflection on recent social movements and especially Senegalese youth (students, unemployed, members of political parties, the politically disaffected), who have violently shaken the Senegalese political scene during the last decade (1980s). During 1988-89, the walls of Senegalese cities -and especially Dakar and its suburbs -were transformed by paintings. As representations, these murals are productive moments in the construction of a new historical memory. These stammerings of an emergent memory issue out of a desire to break with the historical memory that guided the nationalist generation to power at the end of the Second World War. [1] My remarks are concerned with the imaginary and consciousness of this social movement, which attacked the ruling class and its historical basis (historicité) through stone throwing and frescoes. By clearing a path through the city, this sweeping movement redefined the spaces and logics of sociability in public places. [2] While it does not, of course, represent an abrupt break with nationalist memory, these demonstrations attest to the reorganization/recomposition of historical heritage. This procedure involves "invention" or "imagination"; it entails the production of a new historical mode (historicité). For now, this movement can be qualified as particularly urban in view of the nature of the values inscribed in the drawings and in the organization of space (or the representations that constitute this historical memory). Iconography devoid of text presents an interpretive situation- for viewers as much as for analysts -that might be thought of as recreation. Interpretations sanctioned by neighborhoods are often lodged in their own collective memories, which crystallize around a historical person (marabout, football player, politician) and are expressed in songs (Set and especially Xaleey Medina by Youssou Ndour) and festivals (foural) organized by the youth. Furthermore, the writing of history through the practices of these social movements is often ambiguous due to their historicist excess, their overburdening with Senegalese cultural references and political discourse. With the rise of the technocracy to power and the implementation of a structural adjustment program in 1981, "history" has become a substitute for negritude and African socialism. [3]

Degradation of the Urban Environment, Degradation of political practices

This double sub-title could be reversed since, as simplistic as this "game" might seem, the order of the title is a perfect expression of the difficult beginnings of the Set/Setal movement. Literally, Set (clean) and Setal (to clean up). Together, the two terms also refer to notions of order and "moral cleanliness " in the face of the corrupt ruling class. It designates a circumscribed and orderly territory - the neighborhood -against marginality and informal trade and non-regulated economic activities. Is this movement, above all, an opposition to environmental degradation or a violent reaction to the crisis of the democratic transition? The movement aims to improve the environment of the neighborhoods, to remove the garbage and dirt. But it also seeks to clean up -or reform -political and social practices. The first analysis of this movement refers quite explicitly to the combination of motivations: "February 1988-April 1989. Senegalese youth burst, full speed ahead, onto the political scene. No one expected them, but no one particularly cares. Fear of the future is expressed in a formidable, destructive rage. Between two stone throws, a seventeen year-old student lets loose: 'We are going to break everything in order to reconstruct it better.' Idle words? Indeed. Since July 1990, juvenile violence has become a sort of raving madness that has remained an enigma. Before dumbfounded adults, groups of youth, who were once given over to chasing Mauritanians, put there new credo to work: order and cleanliness. The most dreadful city on the continent, the most infested with erring characters and traffic jams, is cleaned from top to bottom. The public gardens, which had become sordid public toilets, were fixed up, decorated, and restored to their original vocation. [4] The historical frame that emerges here to mark out the founding events of Set/Setal could be enlarged to include the crises of the schools and universities; the lost school year (1987-1988), for instance, was a clarion call for a series of strikes, demonstrations, and riots during which students, the unemployed, and marginals attacked urban symbols and signs of power on the Plateau. In the beginning of 1990, before the clean up operations began, violent attacks against drinking establishments in the Medina and the borders of the Plateau and the assault against the "hooligans" (voyous) who occupy the Corniche represent the "moralizing" and political aspects of this same movement.

Clearly, this emergent network is inscribed in a larger framework: that of postcolonial Senegal and, more specifically, Dakar, the largest Senegalese city, the site of power and the center of attraction for young migrants fleeing agriculture crisis and drought. This context is also marked off by the advent of Senghor's successor, Abdou Diouf (1981), the extremely difficult democratic transition, the controversial 1983 elections, and a dismal economic situation. While undergoing an economic and financial recovery, Senegal implemented a structural adjustment program. In many cases, the State withdrew from health, education, and public works. The public administration and public or parastatal institutions were "cut back" (dégraisser) and impoverishment followed. Furthermore, the State chose this moment to accelerate the application of local and territorial administration reforms begun in 1972. The municipal status of the city of Dakar was restored. At this point, the State's financial disengagement from local structures took on juridical form; responsibility for the management of public space was returned to local populations via the mediations of their representatives.

According to its most current definition, Set/Setal is a human investment in cleanliness (in the sense of hygiene, but also in a moral sense -against corruption, prostitution, delinquency...). To be sure, it involves improving the quality of life in neighborhoods; removing garbage and dirt. But it also involves embellishing places, sometimes naming them, often marking them with monuments bearing witness to the moments or figures of local history or to solicit the private memories of families and youth associations. This follows from the fact that Set/Setal is both a youth movement and a local movement (as opposed to a national movement or even that of parties and urban sections of parties). It is centered in and on the neighborhood, the "nook" (le coin) of the Wolof urbanites. It is a direct response to the rapid degradation of public infrastructure, the almost nonexistent collection of garbage in popular neighborhoods and the Plateau due to the crisis of SOADIP (private clean up company), and poor relations between this latter company and the new municipality. The new municipality's lack of technical and financial means lasted until the creation of a new semi-private clean up company (SIAS). Dakar had been left in a repulsive state due to the State's desertion of the public service sector and the municipal authorities' incapacity to take up the slack.

There are historical antecedents to Set/Setal's call for "cleanliness" and "human investment"; its genealogy goes back to the nationalism and voluntarism marking the first decade of postcolonial Senegal. Action undertaken under these two rubrics was deemed a matter of "human investment." Insistence on human resources in Africa (today we speak of the "valorization of human resources," in the words of the technocrat), as opposed to its material and technical poverty, is indicative of the unanimous vision of, and consensus of opinion about, this historical sequence, or African socialism. This continuity is underscored in the study undertaken by "Enda Tiers monde": "Set/Setal is primarily concerned with cleanliness. No doubt, there were attempts to take over for the public service sector, to back it up. Mamadou Dia [5] mobilized the youth of the UPS [6] in order to make the capital pleasant and clean, and to get rid of undesirables - especially prostitutes, who were rounded up and sometimes married, in the same stride, to former combatants. Afterwards, the administration undertook several mobilizing operations, such as set weec or project Augias." [7] This last program took place during the second decade of independence. It was characterized by disillusion, the crisis in authoritarianism, and violent reactions among the popular majority and the petite bourgeoisie. Public authorities began to promote the more technical and political (politicienne) [8]- as opposed to ideological -Set Weec and Augias projects. They illustrate the failure of the routinization of clean up and hygiene services. Nonetheless, they invested this domain with moral connotations and incited the exclusion and marginalization of certain social groups, which were qualified as "human congestion" (encombrements humains) [9], obstructing the needs of tourism and jeopardizing the status of Dakar as a crossroads and a site of international meetings. The ruling class profited, each time, from the Augias operations to affirm its liberality (munificence), its indisputable power, and its authority over populations caught in the circuits of power. These interventions affirmed the political party's power at the local level, its articulation with the logics of legitimation in regions and neighborhoods, the centrality of clientelist constructions and their languages in Senegalese political trajectories. They allowed the ruling class and the party to prove its magnamity and repeat the nationalist impulse.

Beyond their intended purpose to organize and clean, these projects were occasions for redramatizing, in a vigorous and spectacular manner, the nationalist gesture. They were moments for inscribing, in a punctuated way, through commemoration, its incontestable regime of truth. At times, they were also instances when some aspects of the latter where negotiated so as to enhance its seductive power. Must one, then, conclude that Set/Setal is necessarily simply a part of this history of interventions, that it is inscribed in the nationalist political project (human investment)? Or is it naturally part of the affirmation of African socialism, its rhetorical and laudatory figures and its modes of mobilization and embodiment (operations Agias)? Historical continuity, ideological continuity, or rupture? In any of these cases, the inscription of all these practices in the city leads us to examine the contemporary political stakes of urban control, the workplace, leisure, as well as the city's history and the traces left by social actors. Can one locate relationships between the stylistics of power and the style of Set/Setal, the logics of Sopi and the open-ended nature of the democratization of Senegalese society? And what are these relationships in the context of State disengagement and appeals to ethnic, religious, and regional identities that are constantly being reformulated? Can Set/Setal be read as a form of strategic syncretism liable to organize an alternative space for social relations? Does it promote the redefinition of relations between the State, the ruling class, and youth or is it simply a new move made by Senegalese youth in their quest for a reference point that would root them in a changing urban landscape?

Deconstruction of Nationalist Memory

The Set/Setal movement emerged just after the violent crises of Sopi, which followed both the campaign and the February 1988 elections. [10] It marks the failure of the institutionalization of certain modes of political action and defines the youth as the "accursed share" (la part maudite) of Senegalese society. In order to defuse the post-election crisis, the president-elect, Abdou Diouf, decided to use "the youth" as the symbol of his five-year term. The constant wavering of official discourse between a negative and a positive tenor attests to the ruling class' ambivalence with respect to youth practices and its incapacity to take economic or social responsibility for them. And the youth, for its part, registered and magnified itself in the Sopi movement without having any pretension or ambition to save the world. The young participants allowed themselves to be carried by the storm they themselves created in order to wash (set = clean, setal = to make clean) the city and Senegalese society. The violence seemed to be a sign of enormous distress, profound anguish, and fear in the face of an uncertain future and the increasingly unequal redistribution of power and wealth in a society under adjustment. Perhaps, beyond political motivations, the stylistics of power its incontestable signs of force, its morgue and symbols (xeesal, stature, gold, generosity, fast cars...) -was decisive for the mobilization of the youth, for their attack against the ruling class and representations of the State. Since 1983, the profound and lasting destabilization of the institutionalization of mechanisms for the democratic transition by the young and marginalized people (symbolized by Sopi) inaugurates a new era in Senegal. This was an outright refusal of outcomes imposed by the democratization process as implemented through institutions established by the new ruling class. And this dissonance presupposes modes of expression, multiple strategies, and especially new narratives of the city. It entails, more precisely, the production of history that counters nationalist fictions and fables about the radical alterity of African desires, wishes, and practices. The dissonance between the style and the discourse of the ruling class, the tactics of democratization, and the living conditions of an entire population destined to increasing marginalization and impoverishment, precipitated the activation and updating of powerful and sometimes novel symbols, contributing to both the nationalist historical stock and a world open to African World Music and Western referents.

The endeavor to destabilize "master fictions "  [11] had been set in motion. Moreover, if political strategy necessitates identification, for those excluded from the political scene (those who emerge in Set/Setal), the production of alternative references is indispensable to their capacities to act and think as alternative political subjects. This act, which aims to shake the foundations of nationalist memory, goes hand in hand with a new approach to space -that is, investing it with local memory. And this is the composition of identity that can be read off the walls of Dakar. Here, I am interpreting this as a mode of deconstructing nationalist memory and its myth, which couples development and social justice. And since the 1950s, history has played, and continues to play, a large role in the construction of all variations of this myth. These metamorphoses were often linked to State power's constant invention of a politically charged rhetorical space -a space of territorial scale, for the construction of the nation with restored dignity. In doing so, it instituted a central regime of truth, which claims to subordinate all discourse. During the time of negritude and African socialism, no interstice was left untouched, including that of artistic wandering. The State under Senghor dictated not only its rhetorical version of the nationalist era, but also its aesthetic version (whose imported medium and technique -"beaux arts" -negates the painting and sculpture developed by artists who were cut off from State subsidies). From this, adjustment has inspired the invention of a new technique and a new aesthetic by using salvaged materials. [12] The city emerges in painting as it does in song [13]

Set. Des murs qui parlent.... P. 6]

With the rise of the technocracy, the State's disengagement from the cultural sphere has liberated certain spaces: painting on glass, for example, which corresponds to a petit bourgeois aesthetic and renders an object of ethnology and philosophical aesthetics, thus diminishing its function as a marker of religious identity in towns overrun by the brotherhoods at the turn of the century. The dissolution of the heritage of negritude and African socialism, the disappearance of places for expositions (Musee dynamique, village des Arts), the financial crisis, and the orientation of the Ecole des Beaux Arts all contributed -along with the degradation of the urban environment and the failure of the law on illicit accumulation -to the quest for the reorganization of the alarmingly obsolete nationalist vision of the past. Moreover, this very retreat from the official sphere of culture underscored efforts being made to destabilize nationalist memory.

The latter was constructed around three reference points. The first is an intellectual reference. Its Senghorian facet is supported by the ethno-linguistic writings of Cheikh Anta Diop, and it is circumscribed by rationalization through scripture. The second is the historical discourse of the traditionalist (whether a griot or not). Its narrative is inscribed in the construction of an independent State and it supports and discloses a historical continuity that is not troubled by anachronisms. It gives a popular and mobilizing color to the construction of historical consciousness as posited by the logics of the nationalist generation -or to the affirmation of nationalist identity. These two poles were pillars for the mobilization of the "evolués." They also allowed for the articulation of traditional or religious legitimacies by inventing a genealogy worthy of memory and hence essential to the founding of the nation-state. And, following that, the third pole is the brotherhood's narrative of the dawning of Muslim families and holy places in "a nation blessed by God, Senegal."

These three narratives are not mutually exclusive. To the contrary, they are constantly in conflict, dialogue, and sometimes complicity. Like the colonial narrative (the Faidherbian hagiography of the builders of empire, which established the Senegalese colonial territory), they construct Senegalese identity on the basis of the Wolof identity of the ndiggel (the groundnut basin and the regions around Touba and Tivaouane) and the Atlantic commercial ports (Dakar, Rufisque, Saint Louis). [14] The production of the postcolonial territory through the dramatization of these three narratives, which are often surreptitiously associated with the colonial referent, structured State discourse -or discourse on the Senegalese nation. The State became central, then, to the production of symbols initially selected from the regions described above. Through this, civic rituals were institutionalized. After Senghor's departure, the names of places were indigenized, as was official iconography. Colonial statues have been toppled and Ceddo statuary has gained ground. Nelson Mandela and Soweto are now inscribed on the terreplein of Senegalese mobilization against apartheid. The reworking of representations and the repackaging of the referents of Senegalese nationalism through the contributions of ethnic, religious, and urban peripheries are constantly reformulating the historical bases (historicité) of the postcolonial situation.

Signs and Images: Lessons of History

Unbridled liberalism demands, in response, the production of a history linked to the brutality of the crisis, which has intensified the marginalization of youth and women, increased urban poverty and crowding, and magnified the deplorable state of living conditions and hygiene. [15] This is why, in these history lessons, historical knowledge is first political, and then practical.

The important epistemological question is the following: can one delimit and locate a unified doctrine in a movement that is being constantly reconfigured? Should we look for references in Youssou Ndour's song, "Set"? [16] Is there continuity between the Set/Setal movement and the cultural and sports expressions of the Associations culturelles et sportives (ASC)? The ASC were sites of refuge for political dissidence during the time of the single party, and they always have been sites of political and ideological competition in the neighborhoods. They have often been at the origin of informal economic activities and the mobilization of huge numbers of participants in winter football championships (Navetaan), which include teams from all neighborhoods. Is it best, from a purely heuristic point of view, to disassociate Set/Setal from organizations that have their bases in the refusal of state intervention and the weight of hierarchical, ethnic or religious traditions, or to disassociate it from the productivist concerns of public organisms? Can the sometimes democratic, sometimes conservative -but always social and cultural -character of rural youth and women's associations be read as manifestations of Set/Setal?

If ecology is a preoccupation shared by both participants in this urban movement and rural folk, who have been greatly affected by the crisis in the groundnut economy, the aesthetic profusion of the former (i.e. Set/Setal) is much more territorial and gestural than plastic. Their frescoes trace out the lines of a new history and a new aesthetic of the city. And in this process, a new urban culture emerges. [17]

The murals, like Mbalax [18], mobilize and express new idioms that account for unprecedented situations. It is possible that the Set/Setal movement and the signs that accompany it are indicative of a dynamic that was always thought to have been stifled by autocratic politics and the reigning mediocrity of an aborted democracy whose leadership, while literate, is incapable of managing economic and social crises.

Through a good look at this wall of signs -or what I referred to as a mode of marking identity -one is struck with ecological concerns about the standard of life in, above all, the neighborhood. This inscription is the founding mark of the Set/Setal movement; it creates a public urban space devoid of village referents and the moral and cultural discrediting of "African" status in the city. Concerns about the order and cleanliness (or "making clean") of the neighborhood go beyond questions of hygiene; they posit other problems, such as embellishment, as well. This aesthetic pursuit has given rise to quite astonishing statues and decorative objects. Colored tires - half-buried in straight line along the road or stacked up in the form of a monument -speak to a culture of rebellion whose referents are Soweto, the Palestinian occupied territories, and the test of riots to come. Here, we find a will to reconstruct and re-imagine that seems highly indebted to the dramatization of the riot in South Africa and Middle East. [19]

The spectacular character of these statues, which have taken over the space of the neighborhood, issues out of a heterogeneous ensemble of signs that are "cultural and historical references." The materials -salvaged objects from urban everyday life (metal, plastics...); carved trees trunks, twisted and erected on stilts, like monuments, bearing calabashes and canaries (the village) - are diverted from their usual, and often religious, functions. [20] In their commentary on this aspect of Set/Setal, the authors of set, the walls that speak, note that: "There are many authentic echoes. For the ceddo, the authentic defender of "genuine" Africa, certain positions of stones and branches evoke the cults that we call 'fetishistic, ' and a sculpted tree trunk refers to the art of the forest." [21] This very work of diversion, subverting functions and symbols, is a manner of re-creating the past. It works by telescoping, maintaining pluralist references (the Wolof spirit of ceddo, the Sereer pangols, the Lebu tuur, the Sirens, etc.) so as to redefine a symbolic anchor and reorganize the nationalist regime of truth and its appropriation of space. The substitution of associative logics (plurality) for militant logics (recuperation/manipulation) informs these procedures of ordering [22], which include the active work of selecting, toning down, and censuring that is at the heart of Set/Setal.

Des murs qui parlent.... P. 38]

To a certain degree, recentering on the neighborhood reflects the quest for an inscription having neither colonial nor nationalist origins. Baptizing streets in the Medina or the Gueule Tapee/Fann-Hock with the names of local personalities (soccer players or marabouts), which take the place of the letters of the alphabet (A or E street), is a manner of erasing a certain memory. It also entails tactics of identity, which re-create categories of a new sociability, being distinct from those produced by the nation and the ethnic group. In the end, this is an attack on the State's management of urban space, and its mode of carving it up. The groups that have emerged through the course of the movement have thus produced private, local memories by selecting their own pasts, their own "founding fathers, " and by inscribing their own signs in the sand and in monoliths. The list of stars (those whose names were assigned to streets) reveals a reconstruction of the past that is socially significant as an elaboration of their present.

The reorganization and restructuring of urban territory according to pluralist norms also involves confrontation with the State's inscription of space -its geometric totalitarianism linked to a repressive apparatus and the project of organizing populations. Through this confrontation, a truly "public space" has been opened up. [23] The population seems to have found the means to fill the void left by the State. And the sites they have localized are now places for meetings, debates, and certainly for the evaluation of politics. The appropriation of space is accompanied by speech (prise de parole), by the palaver as recreation- that is, not only the village palaver, under the tree, but the palaver in front of a stylized baobab, "the symbol of dialogue, of negotiation and work." [24]

Set. Des murs qui parlent.... P. 26]

A more or less exhaustive census and thematic catalogue of the frescoes has been presented by Enda-Tiers monde. [25] This work allows one to glean certain general characteristics from the ensemble. For one, the features of the drawings (or paintings) and some notations express a connivance with fast food culture and comic strips. The annotations attest to the large place of "riot culture" and characters' positions activate a memory that posits them as youth (references to the youth of the Intifada and Soweto are manifest).

It should be noted, however, that to ignore the artistic dimension of these works would imply reductionism with respect to their meanings. Following the predominant hygiene-sanitation rubric (17.15%), the historical rubric (13.2%) is an important thematic of Set/Setal. [26] In the former rubric, it is interesting to note that the drawings have an educative function; they are often accompanied by texts which require reading. And, from this perspective, the iconography is reformulated, giving a new dimension to a message (on hygiene, vaccinations, treating and preventing diarrhea...) that project Santé pour tous en 1 'An 2000 (Health for All in the Year 2000) had outlined but failed to popularize.

Set. Des murs qui parlent.... P. 50]

The youth compensated for the shortcomings or absence of the media. On the other hand, the historical register is composed of two repertories, one religious (11.7%) -and very Islamic -and the other political. The first centers on the character of the marabout, who no longer evokes brotherhood affiliations, but rather seems to signal the end of the era of the Senegalese saints and their groundnut economy. In that sense, the history that can be read in these drawings is a history of the Wolof brotherhoods -now reorganized, they consecrate the entry of the marabouts into the city and modernity. And this modernity affirms the conquest of autonomous ideological space by the marabouts. The writing of history thus promulgated is an ordering of memorable objects, as well as the invention of signs that give access to codes for deciphering. [27]

If the first repertory is indigenous, the second is more synchretic. The latter is informed by systems of representation marked by certain perceptions of the outside world; it parades political personalities and national or international sports figures. Its symbolics are entirely heterogeneous: from Leik-le-Lievre (i.e. cunning) of Senegambian children's stories to the house of slaves, its spiral staircase hugging a Statue of Liberty whose features hesitate between the French Marianne and Fatou, the Senegalese (wall of a high school in Dakar).

The historical depth of these repertories varies. Apart from the reference to slavery, the oldest referent dates to the nineteenth century (the heros of the struggle against the colonial conquest and founders of the brotherhoods, El Hadj Malick Sy and Ahmadou Bamba). And the most contemporary figure is El Hadj Abdoul Aziz Sy, the present leader of the Tijani brotherhood. It is difficult to decode these messages because of the superimpositions and ruptures in style, temporality, geographic loci, and registers. Nonetheless, one can advance certain hypotheses since the Set/Set movement has a sub-text, or an imagined message. Commentary is quasi-absent; the drawings (or paintings) speak for themselves. Hence the act of deciphering is free. And, likewise, youth interventions in the social field are totally unpredictable; their texts are unintelligible to the political class.

Set. Des murs qui parlent.... P. 62-63]

From this reading of the frescoes, one can deduce that Set/Setal inspires the continual refabrication of history and the city. The latter two become "territories" for the construction of identities and the invention of a tradition and a memory adjusted and informed by the economic and social crisis. This is the violent work of "indocility." (A. Mbembe)

Indeed, when these narratives bring together figures like the Statue of Liberty and Leuk-le-Lievre, morality is displaced [28], giving way to a new semantic foundation that calls on variable knowledge and the diverse referents of democracy -a democracy by cunning (Leuk) or by consensus (Abdoul Aziz Sy or the Statue of Liberty).

The murals also dramatize politicians, like the past generation of Senegalese leaders (Blaise Diagne, Galandou Diouf, Lamine Gueye, Leopold Sedar senghor) who are often depicted. They seem to bear witness to a lack, a certain nostalgia, and, most obviously, radical disillusionment with respect to the technocracy -which concludes its first ten years in power -and the failure of Sopi, or its foundering in political manoeuvres. They indicate notable absences: Mamadou Dia, Majmout Diop... Perhaps they are informative as to the real power of the expressive gestures and genealogical fabrications of El Hadj Mansour Mbaye? [29]

Set. Des murs qui parlent.... P. 64]

Set. Des murs qui parlent.... P. 65]

In any case, the modes of expressing history -or the nature of history (historicite) -as revealed by these wall paintings make use of diverse material (Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela...), which is proof of a "mixing" (to use the term of Dakar Rappers) of histories: the city thus creates a new culture, disconnected from the values of the village and the peasantry. It becomes "metisse," ridding itself of its original complexes -that of colonial detribalization and the conception of the city as a site of debauchery and vice. The important stakes lie between national memory and local memories. The new urban order is being elaborated in the very democratic innovations and crises that overwhelm postcolonial Africa today. The imaginary and the conscience of a social movement -the youth and the marginalized peoples of Dakar -are projected onto the walls, marking space in order to oppose the Historian-State of the nationalist period which is, for today's generation of adjustment, antiquity.

Set. Des murs qui parlent.... P. 70]

About the Author

Mamadou Diouf is a Professor of History and Afro-American and African Studies at the University of Michigan.


1. On this subject, see M. Diouf, "Représentations historiques et légitimités politiques au Sénégal 1960-1987", Revue de la Bibliotheque Nationale, no.34, winter 1989, pp. 14-24.

2. On the geography of the frescoes, refer to Enda-Tiers rnonde, Set, des murs qui parlent... Nouvelle culture urbaine a Dakar, Dakar: Enda, 1991; and for an initial analysis, cf. J.C. Niane, vieux Savane, and B. Boris Diop, Set Setal. La seconde generation des barricades, Dakar: Sud editions, 1991.

3. M. Diouf, op. cit.; and M.C. Diop and M. Diouf, Le Senegal sous Abdou Diouf, Paris: Karthala, 1990, especially the chapter on "le sursaut national contre la negritude."

4. J.C. Niane, v. Savane, and B.B. Diop, op. cit., (preface).

5. Mamadou Dia was the Head of the government (Président du conseil) after the adoption of a new administrative policy framework called the Loi-Cadre to administer the French colonies. He became Prime Minister of the independent Republic of Senegal until 1962, when he was removed from power.

6. Union Progressiste Sénégalaise is the former name of the Parti socialiste du Senegal.

7. Enda Tiers monde, op. cit., pp. 7-8.

8. By "political" (politicienne), I mean the search for clientelistic and financial gains in operations that are dependant upon the State and the taxpayer, being of supposed public utility. Resources mobilized in this vein are rightly characterized as "dépenses de légitimation" (legitimation expenses) by B. El Malki, "l'Afrique et le système international" in Africa in the 1980s: State and Social Sciences", Afrique et Développement, XV, 3/4, 1990, p. 13.

9. R. Collignon, "La lutte des pouvoirs publics contre 'les encombrements humains' a Dakar", Revue canadienne des études africaines, 18, 3, 1984, pp. 573-82; M.C. Diop, "L'Administration sénégalaise et la gestion des 'fléaux sociaux", Afrique et Développement, XV, 2, 1990, pp. 5-32.

10. For details, cf. M.C. Diop and M. Diouf, op. cit.

11. Refer to S. Wilenz who, in Rites of Power: Symbolism, Rituals and Politics since the Middle Ages, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985, asserts that all political power is governed by master fictions (great myths) which become incontestable truths (see his p. 4).

12. Refer to the expositions of the painters, Viye Diba and s. Keita, and the sculptor, Dime.

13. Refer to the songs of Youssou Ndour and especially his last cassette, Xippi. In one of his songs, he declares: "I was a country boy, now I am a city man.' During an interview with Cafard Libéré, in the supplement Cafard Plus (December 27, 1991), he is more explicit, defining his music as urban music, which is the case for its thematics as well. The very rapid development of Rap as an expression of the difficulties and sorrows of life among youth is part of the same phenomenon.

14. On these questions, see M. Diouf, op. cit., 1983, and "Le clientelisme, la technocratie et après?" in M.C. Diop, ed., Sénégal 1960-1990. Trajectoire d'un Etat, Dakar: CODESRIA, 1992.

15. R. Stern and R. White, African Cities in Crisis. Boulder: Westview Press, 1989.

16. Some refrains of this song are translated in Enda-Tiers monde, op. cit., p.6.

17. For more on this topic, read the astute article by : S. B. Diagne, justly entitled, "L'avenir de la tradition" in M.C. Diop, ed., op. cit.

18. Mbalax is the Senegalese component of World Music, diffused internationally by Youssou Ndour, IsmaIla Lo, etc.

19. The language of this imaginary is often English, which substantiates it somewhat. See Enda-Tiers monde, op. cit., p. 13.

20. See ibid., pp. 37-38.

21. See ibid., p. 34.

22. J.C. Niane, v. Savane, and 8.8. Diop, op. cit., put particular emphasis on this associative aspect. See also ibid., p. 11.

23. I use the term "public space" following J.-L. Amselle, who argues that a group cannot exist socially unless it is accredited, or unless it manages to emerge on the public scene through the mediation of a spokesperson or representatives, thus creating its own public space. Cf. his "Identité et métissages politiques", Compte rendu de la seance du 20 fevrier 1991, Groupe de travail Cartes d'identite. Feuille d'information, no.16, March 1991.

24. Enda-Tiers monde, op. cit., p. 26.

25. Ibid., p. 27. Consult their index of frescoes and 'paintings, which gives a clear indication of the iconography of Set/Setal.

26. lbid.

27. For comparison, see M. Diouf, "Islam, peinture sous-verre et ideologie populaire", Paper presented to the W. Wilson Center workshop, Washington, D.C. , 1987.

28. Moral themes make up 4.5%, according to Enda-Tiers monde, op. cit., p. 27

29. A griot-journalist on Senegalese radio and television, his rise to the position of official griot corresponds to the ascent of Abdou Diouf. For further details, see my article in Revue de la Bibliotheque Nationale, op. cit., p. 22, notes 55 and 59.