On the crowded streets of Senegal's capital, Dakar, the image of one man can be found nearly everywhere: on the sides of vehicles, gracing the walls of businesses and homes, sanctifying places of prayer, and overlooking the toil of workers. He is saint, poet, and mystic Sheikh Amadou Bamba (1853-1927), the spiritual leader of four million Muslims in Senegal and thousands more around the globe.
Bamba was a Sufi, or Muslim mystic, who resisted French colonial oppression through pacifism. An influential Senegalese Sufi movement called the Mouride Way is grounded in his teachings about the dignity and sanctity of work. Mouridism is one of four Sufi movements in Senegal, and is one of the most distinctive aspects of contemporary Senegalese social life. Sufism is thought of as the mystical core of Islam, and the abundant images of Bamba convey the Saint's blessings to his followers.
This is the first major US exhibition dedicated to Senegal, and the first to introduce audiences to the striking range of twentieth-century Mouride arts. These include numerous portraits of Bamba in many media, large-scale popular murals and signs, intricate glass paintings, healing verses inscribed in stunning calligraphic styles, colorful textiles, and paintings by internationally recognized contemporary artists. Papisto, Moussa Tine, Chalys Leye and Viyé Diba are among the artists whose works are on view.
The musical contributions of Mourides infuse the galleries with sound, including songs by Senegalese world musicians Youssou N'Dour and Cheikh Lo, zikrs (songs of remembrance), women's devotional singing based on lyrics by well-known Mouride female vocalist Fatou Guewel, and Orchestre Baobab.
The Museum of International Folk Art Web Site