In a speech inaugurating the colloquium on art nègre (Black art) at the Premier Festival Mondial des Arts Nègres (First World Festival of Negro Arts) in Dakar in April 1966, Senegal's first president, Léopold Sédar Senghor (1906–2001), made a case for art's centrality to social and economic development. “Black art is more than a technique,” Senghor insisted, more than

These ideas laid a foundation for Senghor's cultural policy initiatives of the 1960s and 1970s, whose aims were summed up by a phrase, included in the same speech but invented earlier, which became a mantra for Senegal's culture workers: “Culture is the precondition and the ultimate goal of all development” (Malraux and Senghor 1966: 16; see also M'Bengue 1973: 22; Courteille 2006: 64).2

What did Senghor mean by this? Why characterize art and culture as necessary for development? It is surely tempting to read this rhetoric...

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