Music and Performing Arts

Islam and the Creative Imagination in Senegal

In few other places in the creative traditions of sub-Saharan Africa is the factor of Islam more prominent and influential than in Senegal. Manifested on the level of form and subject-matter and spanning a wide cross-section of talent in both the traditional and modern media of creative expression, this prominence and influence can be attributed to a number of factors ranging from the artistic maturity, religious sensibility, intellectual astuteness and ideological orientation of individual artists to the more general impact that Islam, as a dominant religious force, is perceived to have had on secular life in Senegal. These factors, to a large extent, determine the various ways in which individual Senegalese artists define themselves and their art vis-a-vis Islam, in particular, and society, in general, definitions which creatively translate into formal choice, thematic focus and, to use a cliche, “message”.

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