Dakar, a workshop of thought, by Hamidou ANNE


The magic of Les Ateliers also lies in its capacity to decompartmentalize knowledge, forms and artistic and intellectual practices. It is one of the greatest political initiatives in Africa in the last 30 years

The fourth edition of the Workshops of Thought has come to life. For nearly a week, intellectuals, artists and academics from the continent and the diaspora met in Dakar around the theme: « Cosmologies of the link and forms of life. Co-generators of the event that has become a flagship physical and symbolic place in the world of ideas, Felwine Sarr and Achille Mbembe contribute to the renewal of critical thinking in Africa and explore ways to reposition the continent at the heart of the global geography of knowledge. Since their first edition in 2016, on the theme of the planetarization of the African question, the Workshops have established themselves as a flagship event for African ideas, on Africa and from Africa.

In 2019, Achille Mbembe emphasized the importance of the Workshops. Indeed, from a continent long considered « out of the world », perhaps the most powerful tool to rethink our humanity damaged by various threats, and fragmented into multiple communities that face each other. This year’s event was expected after the global pause imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, which tested the West, the former dominant model, and highlighted its fragilities and vulnerabilities. Africa, however, despite the gloomy predictions, has weathered the shock better. Covid imposes on us a new way of inhabiting the earth and new ways of sociability in order to make community. But after two years of painful pandemic, we are moving towards an exit from the crisis, and all the commitments made by the political and economic powers, seem to be forgotten in order to pick up life where it left off.

The voluntarist resolutions about this famous « world after » give way, without surprise, to the continuation of the practices that produced this world whose necessary end everyone announced. The Workshops, through its fourteen panels and the important communications that were given, have the advantage of reminding us of our duty to make the world, in connection with all the tenant species of the earth on which humans must no longer behave as masters and possessors. Felwine Sarr and Achille Mbembe, from Dakar, have invited thinkers to propose a new path, to converge towards new practices in order to heal the wounds caused by capitalism and the violence it carries. It is also a question of thinking about the living through the configuration of new solutions.

The two animators of the Workshops invite us, faced with the « social, economic and environmental unbinding of the contemporary world, to rethink the philosophical foundations of our relationship to the living by reconstructing relational ontologies ».

If it is also because humans, through relentless productivism, the destruction of nature and the disruption of our ecosystem, have provoked this pandemic, it is appropriate to invent new forms of habitability of the Earth through the respect due to other tenants, sobriety in the manufacture of wealth and the design of a new relationship between humans, animals, vegetation, etc.

The magic of Les Ateliers also lies in its capacity to decompartmentalize knowledge, forms and artistic and intellectual practices. Alongside philosophers Souleymane Bachir Diagne and Mathieu Potte-Bonneville, for example, were economists such as Seydou Ouédraogo, novelists such as Mbougar Sarr, photographers such as Teddy Mazina, dancers, activists, musicians, performers…

The Workshops of Thought are one of the greatest political initiatives in Africa in the last 30 years. On the ashes of universities whose vocation of construction, perpetuation and deepening of knowledge seems to be out of breath because of many causes, and at the time of the resurgence of nationalist retraction and the preeminence of obscurantism, to generate a space of free and fertile thought, is to operate a choice to lead a cultural fight to brandish the flag of humanism and to question notions as crucial as politics, culture, freedom, art, ecology, etc.

Where else but in Dakar? In this capital that has long had the ambition to be a land of debate and at the heart of the world’s cultural issues. Edouard Glissant invited us to act in our place and think with the world. For a week, from Dakar, we have invited Burkina Faso, Mali, Ukraine, lands in turmoil and theaters of current global political impasses, to our ideals. Dakar, whose vocation is to be the capital of the meeting, creation and universal, is in its role when it welcomes for the fourth time intellectuals among the greatest of the world, to explore new forms of habitability of the earth and to weave the links of a humanity to invent.