The Letter-Writing Project: Senegal - Cradle of An African Re-Awakening?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - 21:16, by Jemila Abdulai
Dear Fellow African,

The hour is nigh, and the trumpet has sounded. After months of dilly-dallying, the levees have broken and Senegal, as we know it, is at a crossroads. It could also very well be the cradle of an African Re-Awakening. Call it the "Africa Spring", a "Renaissance" or a "Revolution", it is here.

I'm not going to use ink and paper describing what led this West African "beacon of democracy" down this path. Unfortunately, we know it all too well. Here it is in under 140 characters:

It's ironic that the leader in this case is the very one who spent an estimated $27million on a copper statue which he named "La Monument de La Renaissance Africaine." I doubt Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade ever imagined that those words would be transformed into the energy that is sweeping across Senegal as we speak.

The global economic crisis might have wrecked havoc in many-a financial market, but to its credit, it also caused a shift of seismic proportions in the minds of people all over the world from the streets of Tunisia to Wallstreet and now Place de l'Obelisque in Dakar, Senegal. That, I believe, is the essence of the revolution: a re-awakening and change in mindset.

To be real though, not all has been good and dandy. Far from it, at last count 13 Senegalese perished from the ongoing pre-election violence in the land of the Teranga, and one can only hope that number doesn't increase come Sunday Feb. 26, 2012 when presidential elections will take place. However, as has been the case many times in the past, adversity could possibly birth a re-cognition and commitment to a better world.I've been following this developing story since experiencing the incessant power cuts in Dakar in early 2011, and if nothing else is certain in all of this, it's that Senegalese are fed up (Y'En A Marre), and want to take back their country. Many of the kind-hearted people I had the opportunity to encounter are involved in the ongoing protests, and I find myself caught in somewhat of a mother-hen dilemma.

Part of me wants to tell them, stay inside, don't go to the protest grounds. Stay safe. Another part of me is beaming with pride that they have stepped forth and are defending their nation in the best way they know how. Whether it's through actually being among the passionate crowds, or keeping the rest of the world abreadst with what is really going on, they have stepped up to the charge. It also makes me wonder what I would do if -chineke, God-forbid - anything like that should happen in my own country Ghana. Would I run and hide, or would I step up to the plate? Just how far would you go to defend your nation and all you've ever known?                                                                                                                                                 

The African Union and ECOWAS are finally taking firm steps to address the escalating violence in Senegal, and while that is laudable, I can't help but think that these are coats made from the same cloth. The very leadership that needs changing is the one trying to change itself. Nevertheless, we rest in the hope that what is right will be done and that the people's voice will be heard. For other efficiently ineffective African leaders, take heed. As we say in Ghana, "Every day for thief man, one day for master." Everything eventually comes to an end. Including tyranny.

Come what may in the following weeks, I rest in solidarity with the good people of Senegal, and all who strive for human dignity, peace and freedom. Reste fort mes soeurs et freres.

So, yes, the hour is night, the trumpet has been blown. The question now is, when the recesses of that call reaches your doorstep, will you answer?

Your Sister,

Photo Source: Photo 1, Photo 2, Photo 3


Jemila Abdulai

Jemila Abdulai is a digital journalist who is passionate about issues related to economic development, global affairs and the media. (Read on!)She was born in Nigeria to a mother and father from Northern Ghana and moved to the US to pursue her university degree in Economics & French at Mount Holyoke College. There she served as an editor for the international section of her college's newspaper while pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Economics and French. After obtaining her bachelor degrees, she moved to Senegal, where she was working as the program coordinator for AWOMI, an NGO. Jemila also spearheaded the organization of the 3rd Annual Young Women’s Knowledge & Leadership Institute (YOWLI) in Dakar, as well as the first ever YOWLI Monologues event during the UN’s 2011 Commission on the Status of Women in New York. In May 2011 she joined Esoko, an Accra-based market information system and technology company, as an assistant partner adviser. An ardent believer in the value of information and cross-cultural sharing, Jemila is an active blogger who regularly updates her personal site and she is also a member of innovative projects like Ghanablogging, BarCamp Ghana, RPC and LifestylzGH. She recently completed her graduate degree in international affairs and international economics at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and works on communications and African development issues. A fluent French speaker, Jemila enjoys listening to music, reading, writing, traveling and meeting new people.

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