Archive for March, 2013

Senghor et Césaire à Cent Ans: Perspectives Transatlantiques et Pluridisciplinaires

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Colloquium & Roundtable at WARC

Roundtable on Césaire and Senghor

Roundtable on Césaire and Senghor

A colloquium and a round table entitled, “Senghor and Césaire, a hundred years after: transatlantic and multi-disciplinary perspectives,” were organized on December 20 and 21 by faculty in the Departments of History, French and English of University Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) and hosted at WARC. Senghor passed away in December 2002 and the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Césaire (1913-2008) will be celebrated in the upcoming year.

The colloquium, which was held on December 20, featured presentations from specialists at University Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD), along with their counterparts from US Universities.

The colloquium was followed by a public round table on the same topic on Friday December 21, with the participation of other prominent faculty from UCAD and other well-known intellectuals, thinkers and writers in the Senegalese capital. The audience counted no fewer than 60 people and the events were covered by a number of local newspapers including Le Quotidien, Le Soleil, and La Tribune.

Both events clearly spelt out the need for a reappraisal of the writings of Aimé Césaire and Leopold Sedar Senghor. There is an urgency, according to panelists, to re-read and re-interpret Senghor’s thinking since his double position as a political leader (president of Senegal from 1960 to 1981) and poet-philosopher hindered an unbiased understanding of his poetry and of his various philosophical, political and cultural essays.

 

DAART Site Visit: Conakry

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

The Dakar American Applied Research Training (DAART) project selected and funded 11 young West African leaders to participate in an 8-week training seminar this past summer at the West African Research Center (WARC) in Dakar, the aim being to reinforce and develop their leadership capacities. Following the successful completion of the training and the preparation of a detailed proposal, participants were awarded substantial fellowships to help them further strengthen the various organizations they coach in their respective countries.

DAART visiting team & members of the CCFPPG with Mr Sidya Touré, president of UFR (Union des Forces Républicaines)

To track fellow progress and to monitor the proper use of the funds, each fellow is being visited on-site in his or her country.

In December, the co-director of the project and director of WARC joined the two coordinators in charge of monitoring the project traveled to Guinea Conakry to visit Ms. Fatima Camara, the Guinean DAART fellow. Ms. Camara works with the organization, “Cadre de Concertation des Filles / Femmes des Partis Politiques de Guinée” (CCFPPG). CCFPPG brings together women and young women political leaders in order to foster political dialogue among the various political parties in the country and to train Guinean citizens in political awareness and the rules and principles of democracy.

Judging from the reception accorded us by high profile national leaders and personalities who opened their doors to the delegation, Ms. Camara is a true leader in her country, The huge crowds Ms. Camara managed to muster both in the capital and in another city, Kindia, were further evidence of the importance accorded her work.

WARC Director with Mrs Bah Diallo Rabiatou, president of the National Transition Council

WARC Director with Mrs Bah Diallo Rabiatou, president of the National Transition Council

Major decision-makers visited by the WARC delegation included Mrs. Bah Diallo Rabiatou, president of the National Transition Council; the President of the Independent National Electoral Commission; two major leaders of opposition parties; and the Resident Director of the National Democratic Institute (USA).

Ms. Camara’s plans to open an electoral clinic under the aegis of CCFPPG were realized on December 19, in the presence of major female political figures and key decision makers, including the minister of social affairs.

The visit was truly an opportunity to confirm the major contribution of the DAART project to women and youth empowerment in West African countries.

“Ayeeri Kneu Mbang!”:

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

DAART site visits to Bassari country (Senegal) and to Attitongon county (Togo

The Dakar American Applied Research & Training (DAART) is an 18-month program conceived, designed and implemented by The West African Research Association & Center. DAART’s objective has been to provide capacity building training in Dakar, at WARC, for a select group of young West African social entrepreneurs—‘select’ because the 11 participants in the program were selected from more than 100 applicants. A hugely diverse group, these eleven leaders play key roles—often being founders—of organizations and projects designed to empower their communities. The range of organizational goals includes providing educational support to young people from economically and otherwise marginalized groups, promoting women to run for elected office, support for the albino community, use of cinema as a tool for development, recycling of electronic waste as an environmental intervention and job creation, promotion of agriculture and support for farmers in getting their products processed and to market, music as an empowerment, independent investigative journalism, and more. The DAART project, funded through a grant from the US State Department, is designed to build capacity for young innovative African leaders. During the summer of 2012, all 11 participants were in Dakar for two months of training. In August, they returned to their home countries and their organizations to apply their new skills. Having developed, in the course of the training, strategic business plans for their organizations, each was awarded a significant grant to invest in the realization of his or her plan.

As part of the follow-up to the training, the DAART management team (including the WARC Director; DAART Training Director, Professor Eugenie Aw; DAART Coordinator, Mariane Yade; and Africa-based members of the DAART Steering Committee) has been making site visits to each of the grantees.

Some of the equipment purchased by the Ebarack farming group

Some of the equipment purchased by the Ebarack farming group

On January 7-10, management made a site visit in the region of Kedougou in eastern Senegal to monitor the implementation of the community project of Geremy Bianquinch, one of the DAART fellows. Mr. Bianquinch, a graduate from University Cheikh Anta Diop, has decided to stay in his own rural community, the Bassari village of Ebarack. There he is working with the population to give an added and commercial value to the various products generated by the hard labor of the local people. These include honey harvesting, processing and marketing of fonio (a local cereal) and karate (shea butter), large-scale production of cassava, and vegetable farming. Through the work of Mr. Bianquinch’s organization, the community is realizing that they indeed have the resources to stimulate the economic development of their rural area. The DAART project has provided training and funds for the purchase of basic equipment. This, combined with the energy and commitment of this DAART fellow who had come back to village to share his knowledge learning and know-how for the advancement of his people means that the future is looking very promising to villagers in Ebarack. This is so very true that during the whole visit everybody in the WARC delegation learnt by heart the Bassari phrase for “Thank You”: “Ayeeri Kneu Mbang”.

Young Togolese students sponsored by La Seve-Togo

Young Togolese students sponsored by La Seve-Togo

Later in January, the same words of thanks resonated in far-away Togo with its Ewe equivalent “Akpé!” (Thank you!) when the WARC team visited the “Association La Seve Togo” and DAART fellow, Miss Nora Noviekou.

With representatives of La Seve Togo, the visiting team toured schools in the Attitongon county where this committed group of young Togolese sponsor under-privileged students. La Seve Togo has also made it possible for another group of young Togolese to register as students at the University of Lome and complete their university degrees.

A forward-looking organization, La Seve Togo is already making plans to build a sustainable and self-supported organization. They are now engaged in negotiations with the Director of an organic pineapple processing plant to secure an outlet for their future pineapple production slated to be marketable in about two years. Agriculture is, indeed, getting to be the pathway to development for the new type of Togolese who form the Association La Seve Togo.

When leaving Lome to come back to Dakar, the WARC team had one single word on their tongues: “Akpé!”.

Thank you, indeed, to these dedicated African youths who seem to be heralding a new dawn of self-reliance and prosperity for the continent.

 


Launch of the Tanebeer Tour Dance and Music group

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

On January 18, the West African Research Center hosted a program featuring the world renowned master drummer, Doudou Ndiaye Coumba Rose, and his

Panel Discussion at WARC for launch of Tanebeer Tour

Panel Discussion at WARC for launch of Tanebeer Tour

drumming band.  They were joined by the Dakar-based dance group, “Les Pirates de Dieuppeul,” for the launch of their newly formed touring band, Tanebeer Tour.

The objective of the Tanebeer project is to hold major cultural events in Senegal and overseas to disseminate Senegalese culture through drumming and traditional and modern Senegalese dance.

As part of its program of lectures, discussions, and performances, WARC organized a panel discussion for the Tanebeer launch. Featured discussants included Dr. Youma Fall, former Director of the Senegalese National Grand Theater and currently on the faculty of University Gaston Berger in Saint Louis, Senegal, and Dr. Ousmane Sene of WARC.  Mr. Seydou Gueye, Secretary General of the Senegalese Government, representing the Senegalese minister of culture, served as moderator.

WARC Director greeting members of the audience with US  embassy representative Mrs. Sarah W. Diouf

WARC Director greeting members of the audience with US embassy representative Mrs. Sarah W. Diouf

The discussions focused on the importance of considering culture and cultural events as major contributors in the development process. The government representative, Mr. Gueye, noted that the stated aim of the Senegalese government is to promote a more vigorous cultural expression in the country by sponsoring cultural groups in the various neighborhoods of the capital and in other parts of the country.

The panel discussion was followed by a lively display of drumming and dancing talents by Doudou Ndiaye Rose’s drummers and the members of the dance troupe, “Les Pirates de Dieuppeul.”

Senegal: Histoire du Mouvement Syndical: La Marche Vers le Code du Travail

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

By Omar Gueye
(L’Harmattan Senegal 2011)

Book 1

The February 2nd book launch ceremony for Omar Gueye’s Senegal: Histoire du Mouvement Syndical: La Marche Vers le Code du Travail, will surely be remembered as one of the landmark events at WARC for 2013. The event, which took place at WARC on Saturday, February 2nd, drew a crowd of 124 people, including many distinguished academics, Senegalese senior officials, the PAO of the US Embassy in Senegal, labor union leaders, journalists, and researchers. The author, Professor Omar Gueye, is a former Fulbright Scholar.

It will also be a landmark academic event as it ultimately turned out to be a regular public lecture on the birth and development of labor organization in Senegal, which movement, over the years and as early as the 1920′s, made major contributions to the entrenchment of democracy, freedom and political activism in Senegal.

This was amply demonstrated by the informative and erudite remarks from the distinguished history professors on the podium: Professors Babacar Fall (Education, Universite Cheikh Anta Diop), Professor Mamadou Diouf (History, Columbia University), Professor Kalidou Diallo (History, Universite Cheikh Anta Diop, and former Minister of National Education), Professor Iba Der Thiam, retired don from the Department of History at Universite Cheikh Anta Diop, former Minister of Education, former Vice-President of the Senegalese National Assembly, and currently Member of Parliament.

The author, Professor Omar Gueye, answering questions from reporters

The author, Professor Omar Gueye, answering questions from reporters

This was amply demonstrated by the informative and erudite remarks from the distinguished history professors on the podium: Professors Babacar Fall (Education, Universite Cheikh Anta Diop), Professor Mamadou Diouf (History, Columbia University), Professor Kalidou Diallo (History, Universite Cheikh Anta Diop, and former Minister of National Education), Professor Iba Der Thiam, retired don from the Department of History at Universite Cheikh Anta Diop, former Minister of Education, former Vice-President of the Senegalese National Assembly, and currently Member of Parliament.

Professor Gueye’s book provides a deep look at the critical role of labor, not only in instituting strong labor laws, but in activating the population to greater political participation.

 

Two Film Screenings: Brown Babies & Les Femmes de l’Independance

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

BLACK HISTORY MONTH AT WARC

To continue what is now a well-established tradition, the West African Research Center (WARC) is organizing a series of events to celebrate Black History Month.  On Thursday, February 14 and Friday, February 15, two documentaries were featured and were particularly well-attended by the Dakar public.Babies 1

The film shown on Thursday, Brown Babies (2010), chronicles the lives and quest for identity of German African Americans (most of whom are the children of African American GI’s and their German girl friends or spouses during World War II). The film, produced and directed by Regina Griffin, was shown in the WARC conference room and presented to the public by a specialist of German literature and language from UCAD, Professor Magueye Kasse. Professor Kasse, who was recently a Fulbright research scholar at Howard University, is presently working on a book on the subject. The film and the commentary of Professor Kasse sparked a lively discussion with the audience on issues of identity, difference, mutual understanding and acceptance.

Activist Annette Mbaye d'Emeville, writer Aminata Sow Fall, and some their contemporaries at the screening of Les Mamans de l’Independence

Activist Annette Mbaye d'Emeville, writer Aminata Sow Fall, and some their contemporaries at the screening of Les Mamans de l’Independence

The next day, Friday, February 15, Senegalese journalist and filmmaker, Mrs Diabou Bessane, presented her own documentary, Les Mamans de l’Independance: Une Histoire de Femmes, d’Engagement et de Patriotisme ( 2012). The film chronicles the extraordinary Senegalese women whose political dedication and commitment resulted in independence in 1960. The film is a tribute to those black women and a strong plea for the official recognition of their forefront role in efforts to liberate their country in the 60′s and subsequently, to develop it.

To accommodate the large public eager to see and discuss Bessane’s film, the screening took place in the Grand Amphitheatre of University Cheikh Anta Diop. Together, these events drew a large public numbering more than 100 people.

WARC’s upcoming events for Black History Month will include screenings of Akwantu and Jayne Cortez.

babies 3

Windows to West Africa Art Exhibit

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Julie Washburn (left) of the Brookline Senior Center, and  Curator Helen Banach, Boston University,  painting by Wendy Wilson-Fall

Julie Washburn (left) of the Brookline Senior Center, and Curator Helen Banach, Boston University, painting by Wendy Wilson-Fall

On Friday, February 15, the Windows to West Africa art exhibit opened at the Brookline Senior Center. The West African Research Association in collaboration with the City of Brookline and the Daughters of Yemaya Collective has organized the exhibit as part of Black History Month. The exhibit, curated by Helen Banach of Boston University, includes works from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, & Senegal.

The opening reception featured comments by the representatives from the sponsoring groups, as well as a West African drumming performance by Malian drum master Joh Camara.

The exhibit will be on display for the entire month of February. From 8:30 am to 5pm Monday through Friday. The closing reception took place on March 1, 6:30–8:30 pm. It featured a lecture by Professor Bolaji Campbell on West African Art and its relevance to Black History Month. Professor Campbell is on the faculty of the Rhode Island School of Design. Refreshments were provided by Bytes @ University Park, a West African restaurant in Cambridge.  For more information on the Windows to West Africa exhibit, please contact west.african.research.association@gmail.com.

Joh Camara (right) and Berklee College of Music student, Kofi Atsimevu Performing for the Opening Reception

Joh Camara (right) and Berklee College of Music student, Kofi Atsimevu Performing for the Opening Reception

A view of the Windows to West Africa exhibit

A view of the Windows to West Africa exhibit

Site Visits in Senegal — “Panier Thermos” (Thermos Basket)

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Dakar American Applied Research & Training

A good rice and fish lunch ready to serve after cooking in the Panier Thermos

A good rice and fish lunch ready to serve after cooking in the Panier Thermos

On March 1, 2, and 3 the DAART project management at the West Africa Research Center (WARC) and two members of the project steering committee traveled to Saint Louis (in the north of Senegal) and to Ngaye-Mekhe (in central Senegal) to conduct field visits to DAART fellows as part of the field visits planned for each of the 11 west African fellows of the same project.

The fellow, Ms. Abibatou Banda Fall, a graduate of University Gaston Berger (UGB), has initiated a ground-breaking project with the Panier Thermos (Thermos Basket) as a tool for saving domestic energy. Ms. Fall is working through the Association pour la Recherche Action Developpement et Environnement au Sahel (ARADES), on the production and dissemination of the Panier Thermos.

The project consists in using a common basket—similar to the thousands woven daily by West African craftsmen—as a cooking and cooling device. This is achieved by the padding and isolation technology which helps maintain the temperature of the cooking pot or the cooled product in the basket for an extended period of time. With this technology, fuel wood, charcoal and cooking gas consumption in Senegal and other West African countries could be reduced at least by half. If properly and universally disseminated, the technology would result in extremely far-reaching developmental consequences:

  • Reduction in energy consumption for cooking (charcoal, firewood, cooking gas), thus contributing to substantial savings for governments and households,
  • Reduction in deforestation,
  • Conservation of energy and protein contents of cooked foods, as the Thermos Basket cooks without evaporation—a  major contribution to the health and nutritional status of the populations, and
  • Reduction in time consecrated to household chores, leaving women time to attend to other activities in their communities.

In both Saint Louis and Mekhe, the women’s organizations with whom ARADES  is currently working on promoting the Panier Thermos unanimously concurred that the technology is simply a revolution in their daily lives.

A full house in Saint Louis for a Panier Thermos demonstration

A full house in Saint Louis for a Panier Thermos demonstration

The DAART project is supporting a number of other youth-led projects in several West African countries, each of which is having far-reaching impact on peoples’ daily lives. The Panier Thermos is certainly a technological innovation which should catch the eye and the purse of donors and other promoters of development in Africa because of its positive effects in terms of energy savings, improved nutrition, and increased opportunities for women’s participation in their communities.

Religious Organizations and Political Party Interaction in sub-Saharan Africa

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Professor Riedl (left) chats with a colleague following her talk at the Boston University Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs

Professor Riedl (left) chats with a colleague following her talk at the Boston University Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs

As part of on Thursday February 28, 2013, the West African Research Association welcomed longtime member Professor Rachel Riedl to Boston University for a presentation entitled “Religious organizations and political party interaction in sub-Saharan Africa.” The event was organized by the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs at Boston University (CURA) and the BU African Studies Center.

Professor Riedl has an active history with WARA. She was a participant in the second West African Peace Initiative Conference in Freetown, Sierra Leone, where she spoke on media coverage and peace.

Professor Riedl’s lecture at Boston University explored some of the political implications of religiosity in Africa, specifically the relationship between religious groups and electoral politics.

Riedl shared preliminary findings from her current research, which looks at religious groups, their approaches to political participation, and the political context in which they are operating. Using data drawn from newspapers in the countries of her study, and from Afrobarometer, Riedl examined the political participation of religious groups in Nigeria, Kenya, Niger, Senegal, Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, and Tanzania. In terms of political context, Riedl proposed a continuum ranging from a ‘competitive party system’ to contexts with an ‘entrenched dominant party.’ In terms of religious context, she looked at the salience of colonial-independence era religious cleavages—from low to high. In contexts where one finds a competitive party system and a high level of religious cleavage, one may expect that religious groups will ‘take sides’ in partisan politics and on policy issues, whereas when there is a low level of religious cleavage, one tends to find religious groups playing a less partisan—even apolitical—role, tending more towards public service. In political contexts where there is an entrenched party, and religious cleavage is high, one finds religious organizations either incorporated into the one-party system or, if excluded, providing sometimes violent challenges. In cases where the religious cleavage is low, religious organizations focus on civil society, pushing for democratization and service provision.

Professor Riedl’s talk was thought-provoking and followed by an engaging conversation with audience members.

Windows to West Africa- Closing Reception

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Black History Month Art Exhibit

Prof. Bolaji Campbell, Rhode Island School of Design

Prof. Bolaji Campbell, Rhode Island School of Design

On Friday, March 1, 2013 the closing reception of the art exhibit entitled Windows to West Africa took place at the Brookline Senior Center in Brookline. For this exhibit celebrating Black History Month, WARA collaborated with the Daughters of Yemaya Collective and the City of Brookline. The exhibit featured ceremonial and everyday objects from West Africa and was curated by Boston University alumna Helen Banach. It featured works by former WARA resident scholar Yelimane Fall, and a piece by former WARC Director, Wendy Wilson Fall. The exhibit was featured prominently on the front page of the Brookline Tab Newspaper.

Photo 2The event featured a lecture by renowned art historian Professor Bolaji Campbell of the Rhode Island School of Design. In his talk, Professor Campbell discussed some of the objects in the exhibit and their origins and meanings, and of course the links between West African and African American artistic production. Of particular interest was an image he projected of a quilt made by Harriet Powers, a 19th century African American quilter, which bears incorporates many techniques and motifs seen in the famous Dahomey tapestries of West Africa.  He even noted how American quilting traditions retain this heritage and pointed to the quilt work of the seniors on display at the Brookline Senior Center. Professor Campbell presented the history of the relationship between African American slave artwork and their West African origins.

Photo 4The event was well-attended and the lecture was the perfect ending to thePhoto 3 beautiful exhibit. WARA board member and Chair of the Programs Committee, Professor Louise Badiane, will be bringing exhibit to Bridgewater State University as part of their Africa Week programs.  The event was catered by the small West African restaurant in Cambridge, Bytes @ University Park.