Sustainable Development in Africa & Satellites - page 19

The spiritual life of the peoples of Black
Africa is presided over by a complex
and varied set of myths and beliefs that
are passed on orally or via initiation
procedures. African art thus reflects
the richness of the history, philosophy,
religion and societies of this vast
continent. A very large proportion of
cultural activity is centred on the family
and the community group. The palaver,
a technique for solving problems and
settling disputes, and solidarity, a
strategy for caring for the sick and for
vulnerable people, are found throughout
Africa. Art, music, folklore and oral
literature strengthen existing religious
and social models.
Finally, we cannot deny the position and
the substantial contribution of ancient
African objects—works of great value
made with dexterity by farmers who had
never been to art school—that are now
displayed inmuseums in theWest and the
North. Each people and each community
has always had its culture, aesthetic
language, emotions and civilisation.
African art and the contemporary world
Many so-called traditional African arts
are still commissioned, sculpted and
used as in former times. As during
any artistic period, innovations and
conservative currents are side by side.
The first
Festival mondial des Arts nègres
held in Dakar in 1966 showed the world
and Africa too that African art is not
limited to a few ‘primitive’ masks but
reflects the results of an evolution of
forms that started 6000 years agowith the
motifs of ceramics and rock paintings.
Nok terracotta.
This culture in
central Nigeria
initiated sub-Saharan
Africa’s earliest known
sculptural tradition by around 600 BC.
Artists modelled coarse-grained clay
by hand to produce human and animal
effigies of unknown function.
© The Cleveland Museum of Art
 ‘Benin bronze’ featuring an Edogun
(representant of military power) now in Horniman
Museum, London, (UK). More than 3  000 brass
plaques were sized from the royal palace of the
Kingdom of Benin by a British force in the Punitive
Expedition of 1897. Nigeria has repeatedly called
for their return.
© Mike Peel
This Nimba (Guinea)
shoulder mask collected
by Henri Labouret in 1932
depicts a feminine ideal
evoked by the breasts of the
woman/mother. The calao
beak symbolises fertility
and growth. It protects
the community by being
involved in sowing, harvests,
weddings and funerals.
© Muséum de Toulouse.
Frédéric Ripoll
Identities - 17
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