The Republic of Guinea, West Africa
Kankan, The Republic of Guinea: The program is based in the city of Kankan in the Republic of Guinea. Kankan lies at the heart of the Mande region, which encompasses the Niger River basin of upper Guinea and lower Mali. Mande culture dates back to the 13th century Mali Empire of Sunjata Keita. It is characterized by a tripartite social hierarchy, common clans, the coexistence of Islam and animism, similar artisan and performance cultures, and a common linguistic family (Malinke, Mandinka, Bamana, and Dyula).
Kankan is a small, vibrant town of 200,000 nestled in the heart of the Mande cultural region. Most residential neighborhoods have mud brick buildings, with the exception of the newer developments where modern brick, steel, and glass are used.
The Arts and Culture in West Africa program was previously titled Arts and Culture in Mali, and was located in Bamako, Mali. In 2012, we moved the program from Mali to Kankan, the Republic of Guinea.
We may occasionally leave Kankan for short day-trips and overnights in the surrounding region, to attend masked village celebrations or other events of interest.
Half way through the semester, we take a 1 week field trip to the Fouta Djallon, known locally as the Switzerland of Guinea, where we combine visits at the market leather workshop and the basket weavers’ village with hiking in the region’s beautiful mountains and valleys, and swimming in refreshing waterfalls.