President Obama’s Visit to Senegal
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.