The Passport to Paradise gallery highlights the bold, visual images found all over Dakar by focusing upon the urban visual culture of the Mourides, a Senegalese Sufi movement centered upon the life and teachings of a local saint named Sheikh Amadou Bamba.

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Welcome to the African Online Digital Library Gallery section. The following galleries are thematic and scholarly groupings of holdings from within the AODL. To browse the galleries, choose a link from below.

IFAN Sampling from L'Institut Fondemental d'Afrique Noire (IFAN)
Located in Dakar, Senegal, IFAN was founded in 1939 and is the largest repository of Francophone West African culture and civilization in Africa. IFAN is integrated with the Universite Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar (UCAD). We present here only a sample of the work currently being undertaken at IFAN to digitize their vast collection. A complete thematic gallery will be available beginning Fall, 2003.
Curtin Phil Curtin Collection
Preview the upcoming gallery of images from years of fieldwork from Dr. Phil Curtin's personal collection. He also agreed to sit for an interview about this collection, and that interview will shortly be part of the collection.
Curtin Collection Boubacar Barry
The Futa Jalon has long been the center of economic, political and educational activity for the "far west" of West Africa, stretching from the Ivory Coast in the southeast to Mauritania and Mali in the north. The leading figure in collecting and publishing historical materials on Futa Jalon is Boubacar Barry, Professor of History at the University of Dakar.
Curtin Collection Charles Becker: Recherches et documents sur le Sida

Charles Becker, Centre d'Etudes Africaines, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France

Renowned West African researcher Charles Becker has partnered with the AODL to present highlights of his research online. The first selections will be from his extensive work in AIDS research and the history of medicine.
Curtin Fifty Photographs from “Passport to Paradise’: Sufi Arts of Senegal and Beyond

An exhibition created by the Fowler Museum of Cultural History
at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Passport to Paradise has been curated by Drs. Mary Nooter Roberts (Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the Fowler) and Allen F. Roberts (Professor, UCLA Department of World Arts & Cultures and Director, James S. Coleman African Studies Center), and will be seen at the Fowler from February through October 2003. These fifty photographs were taken by the curators or by staff or friends of the Fowler, and are used here with permission. The book Aura and Icon in Contemporary Senegal (working title) by Allen F. Roberts and Mary Nooter Roberts published in 2003 to accompany the exhibition will be distributed by the University of Washington Press. A website launched in 2000 introduces the exhibition at Dakar is a boldly visual city. Images abound, despite the fact that Senegal is a largely Muslim country. The focus of “‘Passport to Paradise’” is upon the urban visual culture of the Mourides, a Senegalese Sufi movement centered upon the life and teachings of a local saint named Sheikh Amadou Bamba (1853-1927). Mouride visual culture includes “art” as that term is understood in the West, but it comprises a far wider range of popular expression from devotional icons to murals, advertising images to drawings that protect and heal, cosmological architecture to abstract paintings, illustrated web sites to souvenirs for tourists. Images of Amadou Bamba actively convey his blessings, and the mystical properties of these images provides Mourides with a “visual piety” that lends structure to their lives.

Curtin Mosques of Bondoukou

In 1987 Ray Silverman, art historian at Michigan State, worked in the community of Bondoukou, close to the border with Ghana. Bondoukou is a predominantly Akan city, capital of the pre-colonial state of Akan and part of the Asante Empire for considerable portions of the 18th and 19th centuries. It has also been the home to a significant Muslim minority, often called Juula. They were engaged especially in internal trade along the long-distance routes between the north (savanna) and south (forest). In this gallery he has given us sample photographs of some of the mosques of Bondoukou and the environs; you will note that the architecture of the mosques comes in two styles: the older, more indigenous Sudanese style, which you can find in such well-known savanna cities as Jenne, and a newer style reminiscent of Saudi Arabia or Egypt, which often is favored by those who have made the pilgrimage and studied in the Middle East.

  The history and culture of Futa Toro, Senegal and Mauritania

In 1968-9 David Robinson, historian at Michigan State, did intensive interviewing in the middle valley of the Senegal River. This region is more than 200 miles wide, from west to east, but only about 20 miles from north to south, comprising the two banks of the river and the immediate hinterlands. In the 18th and 19th centuries this area was called Futa Toro and was ruled by an imam or Almamy (al-imam). Robinson‚s interviews describe the emergence of this Islamic state, its varied fortunes in the 19th century and eventual conquest by the French, and the Muslim culture for which it became known. He used these interviews to write a book, Chiefs and Clerics. Abdul Bokar Kane and the History of Futa Toro (Oxford, 1975), and then team up with Mohammed Moustapha Kane to publish some excerpts from these interviews in The Islamic Regime of Fuuta Tooro. An Anthology of Oral Tradition Transcribed in Pulaar and Translated into English (African Studies Center, Michigan State University, 1984). Today Futa Toro is divided between Mauritania (the north bank) and Senegal (the south bank).

Sampling from L'Institut Fondemental d'Afrique Noire (IFAN)

Phil Curtin Collection

Collection Boubacar Barry

Collection Charles Becker: Recherches et documents sur le Sida

Photographs from “Passport to Paradise’: Sufi Arts of Senegal and Beyond

Mosques of Bondoukou

Futa Toro, Senegal and Mauritania

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