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Tante Kata / Angelique, Dakar, c. 1961. Roger daSilva (C) 2018 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation Courtesy Xaritufoto and Le Korsa

These Newly Discovered Photos From 1950s Senegal Capture the Good Times During an Era of Political Change

Unearthed photos by Roger DaSilva, which will be on display at the Also Known As Africa art and design fair in Paris this November, include rare images of presidents, jazz icons and everyday people in pre-independence Senegal.

A newly discovered collection from Senegalese photographer Roger DaSilva offers a rarefied glimpse into life in 1950s Senegal. DaSilva was born in Benin and took up photography after joining the French army in 1942. He returned to Dakar, considered his "adopted home" in 1947, where he began to capture the city's bustling social scenes. Instead of working within the confines of a studio in the tradition of fellow photographers Malick Sidibé and Samuel Fosso, DaSilva frequented "the city's night clubs and upscale weddings, he captured the vibrancy of youth culture in the post-war period and the African independence movements that were beginning to emerge."

The recently unearthed archive of over 100 of his images, which were restored by the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation will debut at AKAA (Also Known As Africa) art and design fair in Paris for the first time next month. It will mark the first time that the images are shown outside of Senegal.


The images tell a multifaceted story of pre-independence Senegal. A common thread in DaSilva's photographs is the obvious glamor of his subjects, whether that be a family posed elegantly in front of their home while dressed in traditional attire, a religious gathering of men in all white, or a multiracial group of young men and women socializing in a night club. Da Silva was also an actor and tap dancer, who had access to "high society" and exclusive circles. His collection includes self-portraits of him with jazz icons the likes of Louis Armstrong and Velma Middleton as well as photographs of Senegal's first President Léopold Senghor. They capture elegance and camaraderie, as well as the "good times" in an era in which they are often overlooked.

"Roger DaSilva's work brings to life a reality little documented until now," reads a statement from the Albers foundation. "In the pivotal historical context surrounding Senegal's accession to independence, it provides us with a fresh perspective on Senegalese cultural and social history and makes a significant contribution to West African photography."

The collection will be on display at the AKAA in Paris from November 9-11. The six images on display will be on sale, with all proceeds going to Senegalese non-profit organization Le Korsa.

Check out a preview of the exhibition below.

Dakar, c. 1952

Roger daSilva (C) 2018 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation Courtesy Xaritufoto and Le Korsa

Dakar, c. 1952

Roger daSilva (C) 2018 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation Courtesy Xaritufoto and Le Korsa

Dakar, c. 1952

Roger daSilva (C) 2018 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation Courtesy Xaritufoto and Le Korsa

Dakar, c. 1952

Roger daSilva (C) 2018 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation Courtesy Xaritufoto and Le Korsa

Madame Gomez and children, Dakar, c. 1958.

Roger daSilva (C) 2018 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation Courtesy Xaritufoto and Le Korsa

Roger daSilva, self-portrait with Velma Middleton, Dakar, c. 1952

Roger daSilva (C) 2018 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation Courtesy Xaritufoto and Le Korsa

Dakar, c. 1952

Roger daSilva (C) 2018 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation Courtesy Xaritufoto and Le Korsa

Dakar, President Leopold Senghor, c. 1952

Roger daSilva (C) 2018 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation Courtesy Xaritufoto and Le Korsa

Dakar, c. 1952

Roger daSilva (C) 2018 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation Courtesy Xaritufoto and Le Korsa

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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