DYNAMIC AFRICA

African-based news, lifestyle & popular culture platform that brings you stories and information concerning Africa and the African diaspora. Set up in 2010, Dynamic Africa is a rich content-driven creative space with a Pan-African outlook established as an expressive platform for African experiences, African culture and African stories.


Dynamic Africa is a diverse multimedia platform, which curates global ideas, memes, attitudes and other phenomena that shape popular culture, with both a local and global African perspective.




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Posts tagged "senegal"

Souleymane Keita (17th April 1947 - 19th July 2014).

In this three-part video segment by CNN’s Inside Africa on Senegalese culture, we meet a modern-day Dakar-based griot who is tasked with preserving the histories of several interlinked West African communities through music and storytelling, a Malian-born salt harvester at Lake Retba (who reminds us of why shea butter is amazing), a French-Senegalese businesswoman in the textile industry whose clients include the likes of Hermes, and a well-renowned glass painter whose techniques stem from West Africa’s relationship with the Arab world.

We also get a glimpse into one of the leading events of African contemporary art, the Dak’art Biennale which has been running for over a decade.

Watch them all here.

NEW MUSIC: LE1F - SUP.

There’s no one I’d rather be stuck in the woods with than Le1f.

Check out Le1f’s US and European tour dates here.

Adama Paris Fall 2014 Lookbook.

Tartan patterns inspired by the infamous “Ghana-Must-Go” bags takes center stage in Senegalese designer Adama Amanda Ndiaye’s lookbook for her Fall 2014 collection.

Unique furniture designs by Senegalese artist Babacar M’Bodj Niang.

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All Africa, All the time.

"Being African is absolutely the most beautiful thing to me." - Amy Sall

In Photos: “A Gorean Summer” by Fabrice Monteiro.

The usual photographs I’ve become accustomed to seeing of Goree Island are usually related to the island’s historic past as a port and base for European traders. These black-and-white images by Belgian-Beninese photographer Fabrice Monteiro stand in stark contrast to the colourful yet still and scenic landscapes that often make Goree island seem empty and uninhabited. A Gorean Summer is based on both the beaches of Goree, Dakar and other surrounding beaches near Senegal’s capital.

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All Africa, All the time.

In Photos: “Signares” by Fabrice Monteiro.

Exploring history and fashion along the west coast of Africa, for his series ‘Signares' Belgian-Beninese photographer Fabrice Monteiro recalls a time in history where distinct cultures collided.

As European traders and explorers began to ascend on Africa’s west coast around the 15th and 16th century, as these men where forbidden from bringing their families and wives from their home countries, they began to intermingle and intermarry with African women in the Senegambia region. As a result of these relations, many of these women began to orchestrate business dealings to their benefits “using these partnerships to bolster their socioeconomic standing and personal trading enterprises”. One signare in the 1770s from St Louis, Senegal, is noted to have been a property owner and dealer as she bought and sold property in Saint-Domingue, while “five other signares in Gorée signed a petition against a poorly run French company that had been awarded an exclusive contract with the island”. 

Although these relations were not at first recognized by colonial and European authorities, it later became acceptable for Europeans living in Senegal to marry and have their descendants profit from these unions through heritage rights. Most of these women were considered to be of a high class and often married “middle-class executives or French and English aristocrats”. Naturally, a new sense of fashion was born as the women combined their own traditional styles with European attire at the time.

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All Africa, All the time.

DYNAMIC AFRICANS: Senegal with Amy Sall.

Amy Sall is not a hired travel photographer, nor is she a photojournalist on assignment. Yet, her images of her recent trip to Senegal are far more moving, far more real, far richer and possess more authenticity than any embedded journalist could ever attempt to capture. The difference between Amy Sall and other photo amateurs or professionals? Her attachment to Senegal is personal. She’s a first-generation American, born and bred, but culturally, Senegal has never been far away. Additionally, she’s unburdened with the need or pressure to tell a specific kind of story. The narrative was a story to be told along the way, along her path of self-discovery.

For these reasons, and more, I fell in love with her posts on instagram as she visually documented her emotional visit to a place that isn’t quite home, but isn’t a foreign country as well. Through the story she creates with her images, Amy’s photo-documentation illustrates the need for Africans to tell their own stories through any and whatever medium is at their disposal.

Here’s my interview with Amy Sall as we discussed the emotional journey of her multicultural upbringing:

In about five sentences or less, briefly tell us a little about yourself. Who is Amy Sall? How would you introduce and define yourself to those who don’t know you?

I am a 23-year old, first generation Senegalese-American, born and bred in New York City, trying to navigate my life with my best foot forward, while staying true to my values. I think in all aspects of my life, there’s the inherent nexus of integrity, selflessness, and grit. What I do and who I am are intrinsically linked. Currently, I’m a Masters Candidate in Human Rights at Columbia University, focusing on children’s rights and youth issues in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the past, I’ve worked within a few sectors of fashion where I’ve had experience at Vogue, written for Lurve Magazine, and worked for Rick Owens to name a few.

You’re first generation Senegalese-American, born and raised in the US. What was your experience growing up being a part of two very distinct cultures? 

It was interesting, but not easy, growing up between two cultures. It’s not the easiest experience to sift through because it’s quite layered and muddled with all sorts of intricacies. I can say that there were times where my “Africaness” and my “Americaness” had points of contention. I was born only a year after my parents came to the states, so I grew up in a very culturally Senegalese home. Everything in our home was inherently Senegalese, from the food, to the music, to how daily life was constructed.

However, once I stepped outside my home, I was confronted, daily, with the fact that even though I am, in the literal sense of the word, African-American, I did not fit in with the African-American kids. They saw me as other. They saw me as African. They saw me as a dark African. So, it was difficult to reconcile that tension between two cultures as a child. My being rejected by my classmates (and when you are a child, the approval of your peers means everything) led to the resentment and disavowal of my culture and dark skin.

My childhood in that regard was tricky, and it unfortunately caused some damage during my transition into adolescence. There eventually came a point when I just didn’t care about what people thought, and my parents had a heavy had in getting me to that point. Straddling the line between two cultures became easier, and eventually something I thought less about. The biggest relief was ridding the shame I felt toward my “Africanness” as a child. Being African is absolutely the most beautiful thing to me.

On your blog, you mention that you hadn’t been back to Senegal in ten years. What prompted your visit back home? What was the experience like?

What prompted me to go to Senegal was simply realizing that I no longer had the excuse not to go. The last time I was there, I was 13 or 14. The fact that I was approaching the ten-year mark of not being in Senegal was incredibly important and symbolic to me. I decided that I wouldn’t let another year pass without going to Senegal. The possibility of my grandmother’s dying without a chance to see them again started to weigh heavily on me.

Both my grandfathers died when I was younger. One of them I’ve only seen once, the other I’ve seen twice. I regret that I wasn’t able to get to know my grandfathers. The reasons for the 10- year gap vary, but I will attribute them to the unfortunate ills of migration. It wasn’t always easy for my parents to take my siblings and I to Senegal often. Those opportunities did not always present themselves. It’s a sad realization to know that you can’t go home and see your family as often as you would like to, for reasons beyond your control.

So I decided, now that I’m older, nothing was to stop me from going back home and seeing my family. I wanted to get closer to my family, especially with my grandmothers, and develop a real relationship. I wanted to deepen my sense of self and rediscover my roots. It was also important for me to make this trip so that I could see the socio-economic issues of the country with my own eyes, especially as they pertain to children and youth. Much of my graduate research is centered particularly on Senegal, so being on the ground was necessary for the work I’m doing academically, and aim to do professionally.

During your trip back to Senegal you visually documented your stay there by taking and sharing photos on instagram. Was this something you decided before travelling, or was it done on more of a whim? 

I definitely knew I wanted many photos to have as keepsakes, but there were many times where I didn’t bring a camera with me because I just wanted to truly feel Senegal and be immersed in it. When I did have my camera, all I was trying to do was simply capture the country in the truest way possible. I did not want to glamorize or romanticize Senegal. It is an incredibly beautiful, rich and vibrant country, with beautiful people, however there are very real problems that I felt were not to be excluded.  I wanted to share a holistic view of Senegal, from the colors of Gorée to the talibés begging in the streets.

You’ve been blogging for quite some time now so you’re no stranger to sharing bits and pieces of your life online, something I enjoy doing myself. How important was it for you to share this part of your personal life online? How has the response been?

I like the idea that with the Internet, I can carve a space for myself, curate it however I please, engage in a dialogue, and maybe even teach someone something new. I had no expectations when I posted my photos on social media. I was surprised that they garnered the response that they did. People really took a liking to them. I know absolutely nothing about photography. A country as beautiful as Senegal makes it quite easy to photograph. It made me happy that people were appreciating and enjoying my journey, and were able to take part in it. They were discovering Senegal as I was rediscovering it, so it became this shared experience. 

This trip was personal, but it was one that so many can relate to. I am not the only person that has been away from their home country for so long. I am not the only person that hasn’t seen their aunts and uncles in years, or hasn’t hugged their grandmothers in a long time. As personal as this experience was, there were those who were able to connect to it on varying levels. That is what probably surprised me the most, because I didn’t think sharing my trip through these photos could have that effect. I realize that sharing them was much bigger than me, and it was much bigger than a series of Instagram posts. I am really humbled by that. I don’t care about having a large number of followers because I don’t seek validation through that kind of stuff, but I value when someone can take something positive away from what I have shared, whether on the Internet or in real life.

Would you ever consider compiling and publishing your photographs and experience into a photo-book of some sort?

Working on it!

That’s faboulous! Can’t wait ‘til it’s published. Lastly, what are three words you’d use to describe Senegal?

Vibrant, beautiful, home.

Thank you so much, Amy! 

All images via Amy Sall’s instagram.
Amy Sall’s site.

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All Africa, All the time.

My favourite looks from Senegalese designer Selly Raby Kane’s F/W14 lookbook.

Described as “urban, Afro and pop”, Selly Raby Kane's womenswear label was founded by the designer in 2008. A multidisciplinary visual artist, SRK combines a “mix of influences and trends for a unique and uninhibited style”, something that can be seen in her first fashion film “Inner Cruise”.

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All Africa, All the time.

My Top 5 African Dishes for a Hearty Valentine’s Day.

Jollof rice with chicken/meat/fish and fried plantain:

Predominantly eaten in West African countries such as Senegal (it’s country of origin), Ghana and Nigerian, jollof rice has become a staple meal acceptable for any occasion - from weddings to birthday parties. With a preparation time of a little over an hour (depending on your serving quantities), the ingredients needed are easy to obtain. The flavour of the rice is dependent on how you prepare to the stew, whether mild or spicy. Vegetables such as peas, carrots and sweet corn can also be added to the mix. For a slightly healthier option, boil or grill the plantain instead of frying it. Similarly, grill the fish or chicken.
Vegetarian option: Substitute chicken/meat/fish for moi moi (contains egg).

Ethiopian injera with sides:

The very thought of eating this Ethiopian teff-grain flat bread with my favourite sides (doro wat, shiro, ye’abesha gomen, etc), is enough to get my mouth watering. With a near-endless possibility of traditional sides (you can also add your own creations), this meal can easily be adapted to suit various palettes. Although injera can be made at home from scratch, you’re much better off buying it from a restaurant. Want it gluten-free? Here’s a recipe for that.
Vegetarian option: go meat-less, stick to vegetable sides.

Senegalese thiéboudienne:

Another feature from Senegal because the food there is just that good. Although I’ve only ever been to Dakar once, as a child, the experience and taste of eating thiéboudienne is not one easily forgotten. Served on a large platter, this meal usually comes with either a rice or cous cous base and is laden with fish, stew and vegetables.
Vegetarian option: leave out the fish.

Moroccan couscous salad:

What I love most about couscous is just how versatile it is. It’s easy to make (from a box) and a great base for a range of different meals. For a salad option, simply make some couscous and add your favourite salad bits.
Vegetarian option: I think this one is obvious.

Ghanaian fufu and peanut butter/groundnut stew/soup.

Peanuts are hands down the greatest nuts there are, simply for this dish. To turn it into a southern African dish, use sadza/pap instead of fufu. For your east African version, use ugali (same as the aforementioned, just a different name).
Vegetarian option: don’t add meat/fish/chicken to your stew.

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All Africa, All the time.

Things to do - New York: Two films by Ousmane Sembene.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York will be screening two of the iconic Senegalese filmmakers early works - Black Girl and Borom Sarret - starting February 5th - 7th.

Made in 1963, Borom Sarret is a 19 minute documentary - the first film by the auteur, that chronicles the state of poverty in some parts of Senegal.

Black Girl, one of his most well-known films, is the tragic story about a young Senegalese woman who travels to France and finds out the hard way that her dreams cannot be realized in the ‘mother country’ responsible for not just the colonialism of her country, but of her mind, soul and body.

(more info)

The official trailer for Senegalese director Dyana Gaye’s feature film debut, Des Etoiles, has been released.

Des Etoiles follows the ‘the exiled paths of several interconnected characters’ in three cities - Torino, Dakar and New York, telling stories poignant and highly relatable stories of African migration in the 21st century.

Ousmane Sow, a 78-year-old sculptor from Senegal, has made history this year by becoming the first African ever to join France’s Academy of Fine Arts (Academie des Beaux-Arts Paris)

Renowned for his larger-than-life clay sculptures of various subjects ranging from various ethnic groups such as Nouba wrestlers, Peulh, Masai and Zulu peoples, to political figures such as anti-apartheid South African figure Nelson Mandela, revolutionary Haitian independence hero François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture and even French statesman Charles de Gaulle, Sow’s distinct and poignant style of work has led to him become one of the continent’s most well-known and sought after artists. 

Dakar, Senegal