Posts Tagged ‘Global Festival of the Black Arts’

FESMAN – one more week and one last thought

December 24, 2010

The Senegalese have a great sense of decorum. Europeans are far less equipped in that department. So one morning, we get an earful from an irate French woman who, like me, has missed a conference. Her parting shot: ‘…and then they expect us to take blacks seriously!!!!’ She was, without a doubt, enormously impressed with herself. What an annihilating parting shot!

She is, of course, dead wrong.

First, you must make a clear distinction between the previous two Global Festivals for the Black Arts (1966 and 1977) and this edition. The first two had the Arts in the centre. This one does not. It has the Ruling Family and Its Party in the centre and they use FESMAN to show off.

The newly rich and powerful (or in this case: both) always buy art. Not for the art itself – they don’t give a toss. No: it’s all about them. Look at me! How sophisticated I am!

But, and this is the second point, FESMAN is also a gathering of excellent people. You should enjoy it for the quality available. Just ignore the monstrously bad organisation; this mess is the logical consequence of who the organisers are.

The French woman has it backwards. She’s also in the worst possible position to make any statements about “taking blacks seriously”. Not even because she hails from the former coloniser. More so, because there are a lot of Francophone cultural circles in Africa where the colonial party has never ended. Just take a look at all those incestuous little gatherings at supposedly “African” cultural happenings…and feel your stomach churn. The cinema festival Fespaco in Ouagadougou was like that – until the Nigerians and South Africa broke up that cozy little côterie.  Here’s hoping that the Bamako Photo Biennale will be next. On and on it goes.

This festival is not about the Black Arts, it certainly is not for the Black Arts. But we don’t need some spoiled inconvenienced French visitor to remind us of that simple fact.