La Problématique de la Citoyenneté au Senegal
by Mandiaye Diagne
The author Mandiaye Gaye is a regular contributor to several Senegalese dailies and his stories unfailingly focus on the need for good governance, civic awareness and selfless dedication to the advancement of the people. This now retired self-made man was unanimously praised by academics, journalists, and members of the civil society for having worked steadfastly for the promotion of good causes in his neighborhood and the rest of the country.
Indeed, Mandiaye Gaye has been a keen observer of developments on the Senegalese political scene: the masses of people who, on June 23, 2011, rallied around the building of the National Assembly to tell then-President Wade, “Don’t mess with our constitution.” The latter wanted for the nth time to introduce another amendment to the constitution and secure himself a political heir. With the same interest, Mandiaye Gaye saw thousands and thousands of young people hold regular meetings at the Place de l’Obelisque in Dakar to campaign against the illegitimate candidacy of President Wade for a third term in office.
Those and many other anterior developments are the events which led Mandiaye Gaye to reflect on the need for civic engagement and awareness for the consolidation of citizenship.
The book presentation held on Friday May 25 at the West African Research Center (WARC) was moderated by Professor Penda Mbow, Department of History, University Cheikh Anta Diop. The author and his work were expertly introduced by a well-known local journalist, Soro Diop.
No fewer than 67 people attended and many of them who took the floor urged WARC to keep the momentum and further contribute to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge in Dakar and other parts of West Africa.
On Friday June 15th, 2012, Stephanie Guirand, the Assistant to the US Director of WARA, was invited by the WARC Director, Prof. Ousmane Sene, to give a short presentation to his third year English Literature course at Universite Cheikh Anta Diop. In front of nearly one thousand students, she gave a short presentation on The Black Experience in the United States. Stephanie shared her story of migrating the United States from Haiti in the 1990s at the height of the AIDS and crack cocaine epidemics. As a Haitian, she spoke of being mistreated in the United States by black people, and of the challenges of being a person of African descent in the United States today.
After her talk, Dr. Sene broke down a lot of the themes that she introduced in her talk, including the American dream, black on black crime, violence, drug use, and sadness. Dr. Sene also shared his own experiences in the United States and stories of Senegalese friends there. He was surprised to find in the 1980s, for example, that so many people in the United States and abroad believe that African people live in trees and are chased by lions. Prof. Sene encouraged his students to think critically about the texts they will be reading throughout the course in relation to these experiences. And their relationships to these myths about African people.
Later, the students asked questions on a range of topics related to the black experience—from the current elections to immigration. Students were interested in how African American people see President Obama and how his policies have affected black communities around the country.
The presentation and discussion were informative for both Stephanie and Dr. Sene’s class. Samantha Johnson, the WARC IT summer intern, has been invited by Prof. Sene to come speak on the same subject later this summer.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Thursday was the formal inauguration ceremony for the DAART program, which brings together eleven young leaders from throughout the region for two months of capacity building training and workshops. Selected from some one hundred applicants, these young leaders are engaged in the realization of a range of projects aimed at improving their communities. During their two-month training program, they will have hands-on workshops on developing and using social media for change; financial management; proposal writing and development; technology tools; gender analysis; and evaluation theories and techniques. Having begun their work together the week of June 4th, the group has already developed a sense of community based on their common, if varied, interests and objectives. The eleven DAART fellows hail from Senegal (5), Togo (1), CapeVerde (1), Burkina Faso (1), Niger (2), and Guinea (1).
After welcoming remarks from Professor Mbye Cham, president of the WARA board of directors, the WARA and WARC Directors congratulated the participants on being selected as DAART Fellows and on their exceptional engagement and commitment to a building a better world. It is, noted Jennifer Yanco, the director of WARA, most appropriate that WARC and WARA have the opportunity to make some of their accumulated knowledge and know-how available to the leaders of tomorrow through the DAART Program. Kristin Stewart, representing the US Embassy in Dakar, which has provided generous funding for this program, spoke of the close relationship of confidence that exists between WARA and WARC and the US Embassy and noted the excitement existing around this innovative program. Offering words of welcome on behalf of the DAART Steering Committee was Samira Keita, one of four young leaders who selected the eleven participants from among 100 applicants and laid out the outlines of the program.
After the introductory remarks, each of the DAART fellows presented her or his project and shared some of the high points of working together as a group. Given the range of projects represented by the eleven fellows, this was an intriguing presentation that convinced all of us once again that the DAART program is a much-needed support for social change.
Following the presentations, the group retired to the out-of-doors where architect Annie Jouga presented the plans for the extension that will expand the available space at WARC to accommodate the growing demand and that will also house an ‘American Corner’ once the embassy moves to its new facilities.
After professors Cham and Sene, aided by the masonry of Dr. Yanco, laid the cornerstone for the extension, guests and fellows took advantage of a lunch reception to exchange experiences.
La Necessité d’une Armée, by General Mamadou Mansour Seck
As part of the continuing collaboration between the West African Research Center and l’Harmattan/Dakar, WARC hosted on Friday, June 15, the presentation of a rather unusual book—unusual both because of its topic and because it is now being republished after some 40 years.
The central argument of the book is that armies are, for a number of reasons, necessary. One might think that arguments advanced at the height of the cold war and shortly following liberation struggles in Africa and around the world, would have lost their relevance in the very differently constituted world of today. However, it is General Seck’s contention that the case he presented some 40 years ago remains equally valid for us today. The laudatory remarks directed to the author following the book presentation certainly confirmed this.
After welcoming remarks by the president of the WARA board of directors, Mbye Cham, and the WARA and WARC directors, Professor Amadou Mahtar Mbow, former UNESCO Director General and General Mountaga Diallo, a retired senior officer of the Senegalese armed forces, introduced General Seck. With his long and distinguished military and diplomatic careers, General Seck has played an enormously important role in the development of the Senegalese nation and in West Africa and beyond. General Seck has served as Chief of Staff of the Senegalese army, and for ten years as Ambassador of Senegal to the United States. In both his military and diplomatic capacities, General Seck worked closely with US General Colin Powell –first during the Gulf War and later when he served as Secretary of State. General Seck played an important role with ECOMOG troops in Liberia during the protracted civil war there.
Professor Mbow and General Diallo also explained the reappearance of the book after some four decades on the shelf. When sorting through some of his papers, General Seck came across his dissertation, which he had not looked at in years. As he re-read it, he found the arguments still rang true, in spite of all the changes in global geopolitics. When he shared the work with his friend Abdoulaye Diallo of l’Harmattan, the latter urged him to consider publishing it. The fact that nearly 175 people were present at WARC for the book presentation—standing room only— is proof that Mr. Diallo was right in his assessment of the quality of the book and the enduring pertinence of the topic .
Professor Abdoulaye Bathily (History, Universite Cheikh Anta Diop), presented the book and its main arguments clearly and in detail, allowing the audience—the list of which reads like a Who’s Who of Senegal—to engage in a lively and informed discussion of the topic and the arguments advanced by General Seck.
Speakers: His Excellency Mamadou Saliou Diallo Pires, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Guinea Bissau
His Excellency Mario Cabral, Ambassador of the Republic of Guinea Bissau in Dakar
Moderator: Professor Boubacar Barry, Dept of History, UCAD
The current situation in Guinea Bissau is of critical concern throughout West Africa. On April 12, just before the presidential run-off that was scheduled for April 22, the military staged a coup that overthrew the constitutional government. The political situation in Guinea Bissau has been unstable for the past several years and this most recent event has broad repercussions for the entire region. ECOWAS has instituted sanctions after the refusal by the military junta to allow the interim president to manage the return to civilian rule and has called for the deployment of a regional military force.
WARC organized a panel discussion on this issue on Wednesday, May 2. Press coverage of the panel was featured by major newspapers in Dakar, some even carrying the story front page. The panel was an excellent opportunity for the Bissauan community in Dakar to discuss issues currently prevailing in their country. The exchanges were quite charged; at one point M. Pires, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Guinea Bissau insisted on the need to discuss things political rather than militarily fight over them.
The panelists fully covered the issues, which were expertly placed in a historical and present context by history professor Boubacar Barry, who served as moderator. It was understood and almost agreed on that the military forces in Guinea Bissau need to be re-structured; each time elections are held in the country and the winner is not endorsed by the leadership of the military, the likelihood is that the latter will sooner or later stage a coup. The military are also accused of being cronies with narco-traffickers.
The panelists strongly emphasized the need to have a multi-national military force in the country to bring things back to normal. They applauded current efforts of the international community (including ECOWAS and the African Union) to restore the rule of law and democracy in Guinea Bissau, a country that won its independence from Portugal thanks to the sacrifices of national heroes such as the late Amilcar Cabral.
To watch the video of the conference, please click here.
The State of the Nation and Re-orientation Prospects (Published by L’Harmattan, 2011)
WARC Book Presentation and Conference, May 5, 2012
According to Senegal’s recently appointed Prime Minister Abdoul Mbaye, if the country could implement all the recommendations contained in the proceedings of the Assises Nationales, the country would be the best democracy in the world. On a hopeful note, Prime Minister Mbaye noted that Senegal’s newly elected President, Macky Sall, is eager to consider many of those recommendations in order to advance democracy, good governance, and economic equity and prosperity in Senegal.
When the Assises Nationales opened at Méridien President Hotel and Conference Center in Dakar on June 1, 2008, it was attended by 140 of Senegal’s greatest minds, major decision makers, and religious and political leaders. All agreed to review the ethical, economic, political, cultural, and social situation in Senegal, and to come up with recommendations to be submitted to the Senegalese president and his government for possible implementation.
In an attempt to open up perspectives and find consensual, comprehensive, effective, and sustainable solutions to Senegal’s problems, the group investigated all major walks of life in Senegal. Their investigations resulted in a book presented at the West African Research Center (WARC) on Saturday, June 5th, by Senegal’s former Prime Minister Mamadou Lamine Loum and former UNESCO Director General Amadou Mahtar Mbow. Ms. Leila Ben Salem, a Tunisian scholar established in Dakar who attended the event, noted that the proceedings of the Assises Nationales in Senegal could also be a source of inspiration for other countries throughout Africa.
The West African Research Center was pleased to host this important event, with more than 230 senior government ministers and officials, civil society leaders, academics, political leaders, senior civil servants, public and private sector decision makers, reporters, and others in attendance – making June 5th a red-letter day for the West African Research Center and all of Senegal!
Dynamique du Wolof, Sources, Emprunts et Etymologies by Ahmed Khalifa Niasse (IFAN Ch.A.Diop, 2010)
On Friday, May 11, WARC held a book dedication for the recent publication by Mr. Ahmed Khalifa Niasse, Dynamique du Wolof, Sources, Emprunts et Etymologies. Perhaps better known as a religious leader, a business man, a political activist (president and founder of the political party “Front des Alliances Patriotiques”), Mr. Niasse today revealed his writing skills to the public and with the publication of his new book reopened the debate on national languages.
Because he is not a linguist, Mr. Niasse said he chose to study his subject through the lens of his own experience and knowledge of various languages. He defines his work as not being the result of scientific research. His book deals with several issues relating to the Wolof language: its origins, its constituency, and the major (and largely unknown) achievements of prominent Wolof personalities.
Wolof is described by the author as “une langue d’emprunt”, a language which has borrowed a lot from other languages like Arabic, Pulaar, Mandingo, French, etc. In his book, Mr. Niasse makes interesting connections between Wolof words and words from several other languages with the same meaning. However he was reminded by a scholar of the traps and pitfalls of morphological parenthood which makes it easy and tempting to compare things where there is actually no call for this.
His book was described as “provocative” by Professor Cissé from the department of linguistics, University Cheikh Anta Diop. Indeed, one of the key messages Mr. Niasse shared with the audience was to encourage academics and linguists to “learn differently”. He called on them to stop carrying the discourse of the old establishment, find their own research methods, and draw their own conclusions. He also urged them to give more value to Wolof, which is a very rich language and is, undoubtedly, amenable to scientific discourse.
The event was attended by 74 people, including religious and political leaders, students, friends and family.
“It’s already the Third Competition of Mobile Development in Senegal!… we are pleased to share with the community that four out of the fifteen applications that were submitted to the competition are now available for download on the mobile application markets.” Christelle Scharff, Pace University
MobileSenegal trains students in linking technology, business and social change. Mobile phones have transformed the social and economic landscape of Africa. Students working with Mobile Solutions are developing innovative mobile applications for the purpose of addressing specific social issues in their communities.
Back in the summer of 2010, WARC hosted two events organized by Professors Christelle Scharff of Pace University and Jean-Marie Preira and James Tamgno of ESMT Dakar. The first of these events was “Mobile Solutions for Social Changes” and the second “Mobile Solutions for Women and Girls Empowerment”. These had been preceded by ‘mobile bootcamps’ in 2009 and have been followed by similar programs in 2011 and 2012, the most recent ones having been held in Saint Louis and in Thies.
These workshops and ‘bootcamps’ have involved faculty and students from several universities in Senegal (ESMT Dakar, UGB St Louis, UCAD Dakar, ESP Dakar, University of Bambey, UHAB Dakar, University of Thies, UDB Dakar, SUPINFO Dakar) and have been enormously popular—not to mention successful! At the annual MobileSenegal competition, the best of the applications developed in the program are selected. Four of the applications developed in the 2011-2012 MobileSenegal Competition are now available in Nokia Store and Google Play.
WARC is pleased to have been associated with this very innovative and successful program.
On Tuesday, May 15th, 2012, WARA organized an event with the International Center at a local secondary school. The International Center of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS) in Cambridge, Massachusetts welcomed Yazi Dogo and his wife Hadja Aminata Djima, to speak to the Haitian Club at CRLS. Mr. Yvon Lamour, the director of the center, was very proud to have this event. He noted that as a Haitian man of African descent, he was honored to have Mr. Dogo and his wife as visitors to come speak in French.
Mr. Dogo went over 40 years’ of his life’s work, beginning with the creation the maternal language schools in Zinder, Niger. He explained the model for teaching in his native Hausa and the success of the program. Some of the students shared their own memories of being taught in French in Haitian schools and noted the similarities of the system Mr. Dogo created for Hausa and the systems now being instituted in Haiti in teaching students in Kreyol.
Hadja Djima, gave a talk on the non-profit micro-credit agency for women that she established in Niger. She explained the model of the collective pot to which everyone contributes and from which people collect according to a rotating system. Some of the students mentioned that there is a similar system in Haiti called sol or men. The students were so excited about the work that was being done and about having such a great connection, that they would like to organize an event to raise money for their charity.
At the end of session, Mr. Dogo left the students with a present; he taught the students a song and dance from Niger. After the event, the students left, all the while singing the song and practicing the dance in the hallway of the high school.