Professor Ruth Ginio
On January 22, 2014, WARC hosted a talk on the French armed forces, African soldiers, and decolonization in French West Africa. Ruth Ginio, the speaker, is a professor at Ben Gurion University in Neguev, Israel.
At the outset of her talk, Professor Ginio pointed to the renewed popularity of the decolonization of French West Africa as a topic of academic research. This renewed interest, she contends, will help focus attention on the role of African colonial soldiers in the French army (e.g., Tirailleurs Sénégalais) in the decolonization of the African territories from which they were enlisted.
Professor Ginio elaborated on the many strategies used by French colonial authorities to counter the role and influence of Africans in the future liberation of their countries. Such stratagems included pitching North African Muslims against sub-Saharan Muslims on the grounds that they practiced two different Islamic creeds, and in focusing on racial differences to fan potential conflicts.
Professor Ginio is about to publish a book on the topic and is the author of several articles on French colonial history in West Africa. She is also the author of French Colonialism Unmasked: The Vichy Years in French West Africa, a copy of which was donated to the WARC library.
The talk was attended by 32 people including researchers, students, reporters and members of the larger public whose questions and contributions substantially enlivened the discussion.
Book Presentation and Dedication
By Souleymane Bachir Diagne:
(Editions Jimsaan, 2013)
The presentation of the new book by Souleymane Bachir Diagne on Monday, December 30, 2013, revolved around Professor Diagne’s contention that Muslims and other believers should focus on exercising critical thinking.
To engage in philosophy and critical thinking is a prerequisite for the believer—this in contrast to blind adoration and shutting of the human mind from the insightful wonders of thought and analysis. This kind of blind faith is dangerous and antithetical to religion, as it often leads to the desecration of human life and freedom.
Quoting several passages from the Qur’an, the author and philosopher at Columbia University and University Cheikh Anta Diop, Souleymane Bachir Diagne, reminded the audience that the Qur’an advises all Muslims to seek knowledge. This is even if it takes a trip to China, because wisdom (sapientia) is indeed a lost treasure it is our duty to leave no stone unturned to recover it. This is echoed in the first injunction to the Prophet: “Ikhra”(read, learn).
The book Comment Philosopher en Islam is among the first published by the new publishing house, Jimsaan Editions. Jimsan Editions was founded by renowned Senegalese writers and academics including Boubacar Boris Diop, Nafissatou Dia-Diouf and Professor Felwine Sarr (University Gaston Berger).
Following the discussion, the WARC Director seized the opportunity to wish everyone a very Happy New Year 2014 – Dewenati!!