Le Movement Négritude

Cultural Perspectives

By Tim Hazell

Senegal is one of West Africa’s cultural melting pots, celebrating music, hybrid cuisine, and self-determination. During its long occupation by France, many Senegalese identified themselves with French language and society. The Négritude movement, long established internationally as a Pan-African concept, arose in Senegal following the country’s independence in 1960. Négritude challenged the theories of race hierarchy and ethnic inferiority of philosophers such as Hegel and Gobineau.

The movement’s ideals of affirming pride in a shared black identity were reinforced by congresses and publications. Martinican poet and statesman Aimé Césaire (1913-2008), one of the founders of Le Movement Négritude in Francophone literature, believed that black presence in the world would articulate experiences and histories, measured by the compass of suffering. “Cahier d’un retour au pays natal” is his response to oppression:

“My Négritude is not a stone, its deafness hurled against the clamor of the day…

It takes root in the red flesh of the soil!”

The Senegalese have become promoters of African unity, arts, and gastronomy. Mafé, their variant of peanut stew, common to West and Sub-Saharan Africa, is robust and with an attitude! Mafé goes beautifully with chilled East Indian banana raita (included) and plain rice.




8 skinned chicken drumsticks or thighs

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. butter

1 large onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup tomato purée

Fresh coriander, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 medium potatoes, cubed

1 green chile, seeded and chopped

1 tbsp. hot sauce (any brand)

2 cups beef or chicken stock

1/2 cup crunchy or smooth peanut butter

Dash of red chili flakes

Ground black pepper

1 tsp. salt (or to taste)

2 tsp. sugar



Heat butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Brown chicken pieces; remove and add the onions. Cook for five minutes until translucent. Add garlic, chilies, chili flakes, black pepper, and coriander and cook until softened. Add chicken pieces, chopped tomatoes, purée, carrots, potatoes, salt, sugar, and stock. Bring to the boil. Remove a little broth; blend with peanut butter in a small bowl and return to the saucepan. Simmer, partially covered, for an hour or until meat is tender. Uncover to reduce. Garnish with coriander.

Variations: beef, lamb, okra, spinach, yams, vegetarian.


Banana Raita

Three undraped bananas, sliced

2 cups natural yogurt

1 clove garlic, minced

1-inch piece ginger root, minced

1 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. cardamom

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. cumin seed

2 tsp. vegetable oil

1 tbsp. chopped coriander

Measure yogurt into a mixing bowl. Add garlic, ginger, sugar, salt, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and cloves. Stir and add sliced bananas. Heat oil in a small saucepan, add cumin seeds and allow to gently brown. Pour oil and cumin seeds over ingredients in bowl. Stir to blend. Top with ground spices and coriander. Refrigerate until served.

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