Magazine article Artforum International

Cheikh Ndiaye

Magazine article Artforum International

Cheikh Ndiaye

Article excerpt

WITH INDEPENDENCE came the freedom to once again fully inhabit this city, the imperative to inscribe in our new urban designs the ancient pact between our ancestors and the spirits that had guided them here, to this benevolent green cape embraced by a blue Atlantic. Dakar. Ndakaru. Denatured by more than a hundred years of foreign rule, our Dekk Raw had always meant to serve as a refuge for the oppressed of all origins. With our newly recovered autonomy, we translated this mandate into an architecture of openness; we drew up municipal plans as a poet crafts his verses. Our modern aspirations for millennial peace and middle-class comfort were housed in neighborhoods named Liberte and Amide.

But all this concerted planning failed to anticipate the rural exodus that followed. In leaving their villages due to drought and scarcity, millions abruptly abandoned the strictures of a rigid social structure in which every member of the community had acted as a load-bearing wall. The massive influx of the poor and disadvantaged stress-tested Dakar's promise to assist and assimilate anyone in need. …

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