Protection of Migrants Rights: in Africa and throughout the World

July 26th, 2013 in Announcements, News from WARC

“Protection des Droits des Migrants en Afrique et dans le Reste du Monde”

This public lecture jointly organised by the West African Research center (WARC) and the Senegalese Human Rights Committee was held at WARC on Saturday, July 20, 2013. Questions of migrants rights and related issues were addressed by a panel of distinguished scholars and specialists. These

The panelists addressing the topic

The panelists addressing the topic

included Professor Ndioro Ndiaye, former Snegalese Minister of Health and former Deputy Director of the United Nations International Organisation for Migration; Malick Sow, magistrate and chairman of the United Nations Committee on Arbitrary Detentions; Alioune Tine, former president of the Senegalese human rights organization, Raddho, and currently chairman of the Senegalese Human Rights Committee.

The panelists lamented the lack of, or disregard for, appropriate national and international legislation to protect migrant workers whose only fault is having left their national homes to go to alien and often hostile lands. This, in the pursuit of life, happiness and liberty and to prove themselves as worthy sons and daughters by the remittances they regularly send back home. This contributes not only to their families, but to national welfare in their respective countries of origin.

A plea was made for increased protection of migrants, especially by international bodies such as the United Nations and the African Union.

The opportunity was also taken by some representatives of development NGOs to lambast the sometime regrettable behavior of some of our diplomats who all too often forget that they are primarily accredited in order to watch and care for their fellow countrymen established abroad.

Members of the audience, including clerics from the Catholic church and the Muslim community

Members of the audience, including clerics from the Catholic church and the Muslim community

The discussions were very lively, especially with the presence of the cabinet director of the Ministry of Senegalese Abroad. In his capacity as the representative of the minister in charge of Senegalese abroad, M. Ibrahima Fall explained that the welfare of such Senegalese in foreign lands was a priority for the government, as they are major contributors to the national economy with remittances and other money transfers annually amounting to billions of CFA.

The event was attended by no less than 88 people, including Senegalese former diplomats, West African ambassadors in Dakar, NGO and civil society officials, researchers, clerics from the Christian and Muslim communities, and the larger public.

Remembering May 1968

July 23rd, 2013 in Announcements, News from WARC

Celebrating the 45 Year Anniversary of the May ‘68 Student Uprising in Dakar

Dr. Yanco, WARA Director, addressing the audience

Dr. Yanco, WARA Director, addressing the audience

The various people who, on this day, took the floor to give testimonies on their May 1968 experiences are now household names in Senegalese and West African politics and civil society.

From Ousmane Camara, former minister and former president of the Senegalese Supreme Court to Magatte Thiam, Iba Der Thiam, Mbaye Diack, Birahim Diagne, Abdoulaye Bathily, Dialo Diop, Mamadou Diop Decroix—all of them lived the events of May 1968, either as students and student movement leaders or as officials in the Senegalese government of the period.

All of them, in their respective testimonies, concluded that:

  • the May ‘68 uprising at the University of Dakar was not simply a spillover from students’ unrests elsewhere, particularly in France;
  • the time was ripe for the Senegalese population to openly voice their disagreement with the policies implemented by the Senghor government of the period;
  • the Senegalese people were crying for more democracy;
  • the country was officially independent but French influence was still too important
  • local entrepreneurship and economic ventures were stifled by French economic interests.

The above, according to the May 68 actors were sufficient arguments to justify the unexpected and violent demonstrations which nearly toppled the Senghor regime.

The May ’68 event drew a large and very engaged crowd

The May ’68 event drew a large and very engaged crowd

The event, which was made possible thanks to the efforts of an organizing committee led by a May ‘68 actor, Oumar Dioume, attracted a huge crowd of no less than 160 people. The WARA Director, who was present in Dakar, also addressed the audience and thanked them for their interests in initiatives and activities conducted at WARC.

Among all the testimonies given, the one sent in writing by Professor Mbye Cham (Howard University), the former WARA Board President, capped it all. Here is what this May ‘68 veteran writes about the May ‘68 developments:

I received the announcement for tomorrow’s event commemorating 1968 at WARC. Waaw, I wish I was there to put in my bit. I recall vividly certain moments leading up to the soldiers coming into campus to haul us on trucks to Camp Archinard where we spent two days before being released at sent back to our various countries.

I was there at the university with a number of students form Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria on a French gov’t sponsored language and civilization program for Anglophone West African students. We were housed in one of the then newly constructed dorms on the other side of the main blue and white dorm, and I recall attending many of the evening meetings/rallies of the various student groups (mostly Senegalese) in that area next to the dining hall wing of the main dorm. Batchily was one I remember as a firebrand, and I recall Moustapha Niasse as one of the leaders of the PS students (or at least, his name was always invoked in relation to the group that was allied to the PS.

The day the soldiers came into the campus (they were camped outside for a couple of days before actually being ordered in) we gathered outside the main corniche entrance, and the moment they started moving in we took off toward our respective dorms. I will never forget this huge Senegalese soldier who barged into our dorm room (I was sharing a room with a Gambian friend,  now deceased – who later became our Minister of Foreign Affairs briefly under Jammeh – and a fellow from Benin) and grabbed me (as match stick skinny as I was) and tossed me onto the truck along with the others. The supervisors of our program, Mr. Pujos and Mr. David showed up while we were all on the military truck, and started to plead with the soldiers that we were foreign students and had nothing to do with the movement. “Ils n’y sont rien, Messieurs, je vous assure,” Pujos kept shouting to the soldiers as the trucks started moving! In vain! We spent two days at Camp Archinard in Ouakam, and afterward we the Gambians were put on a military truck to escort us back to Gambia and the others were repatriated also. They allowed us to collect whatever remained of our stuff in the dorm rooms before leaving for Gambia. One thing I lost that I treasured a lot was my collection of music albums of James Brown, Percy Sledge, Diana Ross, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and others that a friend of mine had sent me from the US. I’m still looking for thet huge Senegalese solider who I’m sure made off with them!  We learnt later that some of the Senegalese students were put into the army.

During all the time that the Senegalese students were rising up, debating and holding rallies, we the Gambians were fully with the Batchily camp. In Gambia at the time, students were already radicalized as a result of our exposure to Nkrumah and Stokely Carmichael and Miriam Makeba who actually came to the Gambia around the same time. In fact, Gambian students protested the visit of Senghor to Gambia around the same time (there are many newspaper stories of this).

 

***

Heritage d’Amilcar Cabral et Dynamiques Identitaires en Guinee Bissau

July 23rd, 2013 in Announcements, News from WARC

This public lecture was given at the West African Research Center by Professor Tcherno Djalo, who is currently teaching at the Faculdade de Ciencia Politica, Lusofonia e Relacaoes Internacionais at the Universidade Lusofona of Lisbon.

Professor Djalo hailed the leadership, commitment and foresight of Dr. Amilcar Cabral, the prime mover of the liberation movement and guerilla war which culminated in the independence of Guinea Bissau and the Cape Verde

Right to Left Pr Alioune Tine, Pr Djalo, Mamadou Lamine Diallo and the Ambassador of Bissau in Senegal

Right to Left Pr Alioune Tine, Pr Djalo, Mamadou Lamine Diallo and the Ambassador of Bissau in Senegal

Islands.

He clearly demonstrated that the present woes of Guinea Bissau are attributable to country’s having become independent without being a unified nation.  A charismatic leader like Amilcar Cabral was needed at the time of independence to consolidate nationhood by working on the unification of all ethnic groups. Another factor accounting for the permanent political unrest in the country is the fact that the Bissauan freedom fighters never behaved as a well-organized and disciplined army. They have consequently kept seeking to control the political power and to challenge the legitimacy of political leaders.

Professor Djalo is the author of an essay entitled, “O Mestiço e o Poder: Identidades, Dominaçoes e Resistencias na Guinee” (“Mixed and Power: Identities, Dominations and Resistances in Guinee Bissau”).

 

The lecture was attended by 28 people, including Guinea Bissau nationals such as the Ambassador of Bissau in Senegal.

Senegalese Minister of Higher Education

July 23rd, 2013 in Uncategorized

Minister of Higher Education shares lunch at WARC with US Ambassador after President Obama’s visit to Senegal

Senator

(l to r): Kristin Kane, Public Affairs Officer; Minister Mary Teuw Niane, Ambassador Lewis Lukens, WARC Director Ousmane Sene

On Tuesday, July 2, Professor Mary Teuw Niane, the Senegalese Minister of Higher Education came to WARC to visit the new DAART extension in the company of His Excellency Lewis Lukens, US Ambassador to Senegal. For the record, the plaque of the new building was officially unveiled on May 23rd by the minister (represented by his Secretary General), the US Ambassador, and Dr. Jennifer Yanco, the director of WARA. The Minister was offered a guided tour of WARC and expressed his interest in using the new conference room as a venue for events like seminars and workshops organized by the Senegalese ministry of higher education.

The visit included a luncheon in the WARC gardens, also attended by PAO Kristin Kane during which Minister Niane expanded on his vision for higher education in Senegal and described the numerous projects he is currently implementing in the sector. He and Ambassador Lukens exchanged notes as well on the very successful visit of President Obama on June 26-28.

WARC Director Ousmane Sene had the honor of being part of President Obama’s meeting with select members of Senegalese civil society on Goree Island and was also invited to the dinner offered by the Senegalese President on the occasion of the visit of his US counterpart.

Obama Visits Senegal

July 23rd, 2013 in Announcements, News from WARC

O. Sene

WARC Director Ousmane Sene had the honor of being part of President Obama’s meeting with select members of Senegalese civil society on Goree Island and was also invited to the dinner offered by the Senegalese President on the occasion of the state visit of his US counterpart.

After an emotional visit to the Slave House on Goree Island on Thursday, President Obama joined a delegation of 15 members of Senegalese civil society, greeting each with a friendly handshake before his more formal address. The delegation, which included the WARC Director, had selected three speakers, one of whom was Aissatou Padane, a member of the DAART Steering committee. Another was Fadel Barro, a friend of WARC and the leader of the YEN A MARRE movement. In his address, President Obama unveiled new projects for African youth in the area of education, in particular, and also insisted that development required a strong sense of civic engagement and citizenship as well as accountability and democratic politics.

Later in the evening, President Obama attended a dinner offered in his honor by Senegalese president, Macky Sall.  Entertainment was provided by Senegalese musician Baaba Maal, with his group of Mandingo female singers. Youssou Ndour, now the Senegalese Minister of Tourism, also chimed in with a few celebrated songs which literally lifted the US First Lady from her seat to the floor for a few dance steps. She was immediately joined by the Senegalese First Lady, Marieme Faye-Sall, President Obama, and President Sall. Among the high points of the evening were certainly the presidential steps on the improvised dance floor.

During President Obama’s visit to Senegal, WARC served as the primary resource institution both for local and international media, and granted several radio and television interviews to explain the timing of the visit as well as its meanings and consequences for relations between the US and Africa.

President Obama’s Visit to Senegal

July 23rd, 2013 in Announcements, News from WARC

O. Sene

WARC Director Ousmane Sène greeting President Barack Obama as Professor Penda Mbow (center) looks on

WARC Director Ousmane Sene had the honor of being part of President Obama’s meeting with select members of Senegalese civil society on Goree Island and was also invited to the dinner offered by the Senegalese President on the occasion of the state visit of his US counterpart.

After an emotional visit to the Slave House on Goree Island on Thursday, President Obama joined a delegation of 15 members of Senegalese civil society, greeting each with a friendly handshake before his more formal address. The delegation, which included the WARC Director, had selected three speakers, one of whom was Aissatou Padane, a member of the DAART Steering committee. Another was Fadel Barro, a friend of WARC and the leader of the YEN A MARRE movement. In his address, President Obama unveiled new projects for African youth in the area of education, in particular, and also insisted that development required a strong sense of civic engagement and citizenship as well as accountability and democratic politics.

Later in the evening, President Obama attended a dinner offered in his honor by Senegalese president, Macky Sall.  Entertainment was provided by Senegalese musician Baaba Maal, with his group of Mandingo female singers. Youssou Ndour, now the Senegalese Minister of Tourism, also chimed in with a few celebrated songs which literally lifted the US First Lady from her seat to the floor for a few dance steps. She was immediately joined by the Senegalese First Lady, Marieme Faye-Sall, President Obama, and President Sall. Among the high points of the evening were certainly the presidential steps on the improvised dance floor.

During President Obama’s visit to Senegal, WARC served as the primary resource institution both for local and international media, and granted several radio and television interviews to explain the timing of the visit as well as its meanings and consequences for relations between the US and Africa.