As some of you probably know, I worked in Senegal for a while with an NGO focused on women and youth rights. I also got the opportunity to interact with many locals and to get a sense of the political situation under Wade’s government. Many Senegalese are simply fed up with Wade and want him out. His second term is coming to an end and elections are due on February 26. Like Ghana, a Senegalese president is allowed to have a maximum of two consecutive terms. However, Wade circumvented the constitution and secured a go-ahead from the Supreme Court (whose judges he appointed) to run for a possible third term in office. The result? Mass protests across the country dubbed “Y’en A Marre, Wade Degage!” (We’re Fed Up, Wade Get Out!). It should be noted though that all this has been brewing for a very long while, stemming largely from the economic crisis, rising costs of living and the incessant power cuts in Senegal last March. Also, many people – myself included – don’t think the 80-something year old Wade is pushing for the third term for himself. Nope, it’s part of a larger scheme to get his son Karim Wade – who barely speaks the local language Wolof! – into the driver’s seat. Makings of a dictatorship and “monarchy”? Probably.
|Arame & I , infamous African Renaissance Statue|
There’s also the question of whether Senegal could probably be the starting point of an “Africa Spring”? The mainstream media has done a good job of covering the protests, but a lot of the nuances go unmentioned. I wanted to do a post on this myself, but didn’t get a chance to. As fate would have it, one of my dearest Senegalese sisters and a climate change activist, Arame Tall recently wrote on what’s going on in Senegal, and I only find it befitting to post her article here, so you hear a Senegalese point of view yourself. Arame’s not only one of the most inspiring and hardworking Senegalese women I know, but a VERY accomplished one who knows her stuff. She’s currently undertaking her PHD with Johns Hopkins and has been conducting research across Africa on climate change. You can find her entire Op-Ed below via Scribd; it’s also available on the Democracy in Africa website. On the question of an Africa Spring, I’d suggest listening to the recent BBC debate in Accra.
Photo Source: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/.a/6a00d8341c630a53ef0168e661f387970c-600wi
Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.