Why the horse?
Up until recently in Dakar, Senegal (a city known for its surf-breaks and rich cultural landscape), the most common form of transport was a moving painting. Google it: ‘car rapides’. Neither cars nor that fast, they were brightly painted buses with eyes (which gave the vehicles their spirits.) Jostling for prominence on the moving canvases were also images of horses, football emblems, slogans, brand icons, Islamic references, pineapples, and palm trees, etc. One of the most renowned car rapides artists was Moussa Tine, whose design philosophy was very clear: motifs without meaning are “vulgar and useless”.
The buses were originally from France, but when they had reached their sell-by-date there, the already defunct vehicles were shipped to Senegal, where they were reincarnated as the people’s chariot.
These buses became a cultural symbol of Senegal’s capital – a cheap and cheerful transport solution for everyone. But, given their poor safety record and heavy contribution to pollution, they have largely been phased out in a move to modernise urban transportation. Which we can agree is not necessarily a bad thing, but sad nonetheless. Again, why the horse though?
Before the ‘car rapides’ bus system, horses were the main mode of transport in Senegal. They were also replaced by ‘the new’. So our horse motif serves as a way of connecting the past to the present and paying homage to ‘car rapides’ and Moussa Tine, who is quoted as saying, ‘I am sure (this) will turn Dakar into an unknown city.’
The march of ‘progress’ in Dakar, Senegal has had its casualties. First horses, then the cheap and cheerful Car Rapides… not to worry, it’s not quite as morbid as it sounds.