Bamba Merci: the intersections of political and spiritual graffiti in Senegal

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Abstract

In the summer of 2013, ‘Bamba Merci’ became an omnipresent slogan on public walls throughout Senegal; it was a social movement started by a prominent leader of the Murid Sufi order. With both political and religious meanings, the graffiti pointed to the intertwined relationships between political and religious lives. Senegal’s secular postcolonial state policies allow and encourage open religious dialogue. A state-maintained open public sphere created the possibility for this religious and social movement; a society supportive of social movements, religious expression and public art created the welcoming forum for the expression. By placing the Bamba Merci graffiti in the context of the secular state and also recent popular social movements in Senegal, this article shows how public expression can illuminate the intersections between political and religious lives. The essay concludes by questioning whether this recent graffiti is a contrast to other ethnographic examples of graffiti.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-18
Number of pages16
JournalAfrican Identities
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016

Keywords

  • Graffiti
  • Murid
  • Senegal
  • secularism
  • sufism

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