The inception of Senegal’s graffiti scene is closely connected with the arrival of hip-hop youth culture from North America to Europe and Africa in the 1990s.
In this context, Senegal’s popular artist Amadou Lamine Ngom, alias Docta, used his first graffiti to speak out against the local society and authorities, but at the time his work was still very much shaped by tradition. In more recent years, Docta has changed course to help the people of Dakar. His ongoing Graff et Santé initiative with Doxandem Squad aims to raise awareness of preventive health measures: aware of the population’s scepticism of state health services, Docta uses Graff et Santé to bring information about medical issues to the streets in the form of graffiti. Breaking barriers, the initiative allows medical staff to communicate with the general public in an uncomplicated manner. Docta sees this initiative as a logical development of graffiti culture, which he advocates is about informal communication in public spaces. The artist further uses his project to constructively protest against the inefficiency of the state health service and the corruption of the elites. Alongside Graff et Santé, Docta has initiated the Festigraff festival in 2009, a meeting point for graffiti artists from all over the world to exchange ideas, learn from one another and celebrate graffiti and its culture. These projects have given Docta an important standing in Senegalese culture, away from the established power structures and authorities.