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

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerforming Pan-Africanism
Subtitle of host publicationThe First World Festival of Black and African Culture, Dakar 1966: contexts and legacies
EditorsDavid Murphy
Place of PublicationLiverpool
PublisherLiverpool University Press
ISBN (Print)9781781383162
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016

Publication series

NamePostcolonialism across the disciplines
PublisherLiverpool University Press

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Black Humanities


  • Senegal
  • Dakar
  • Wole Soyinka
  • Lat Dior
  • Theatre
  • Festivals
  • History
  • Pan-Africanism
  • Senghor

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