the president of Senegal (Abdoulaye Wade)
This article, "The New Approach on Africa," by President Abdoulaye
Wade of Senegal, is merely a diversion from the real issues facing our country and require
urgent action. Mr. President, let me remind you that we once admired you as a messiah sent by
God to rescue the people of Senegal. The whole nation had vast hope. Even your running
mates accepted their defeat before the proclamation of the 2000 election results,
trusting that, if anything, you would, at least, be able to soothe the suffering of the people. The African continent, from the Cape to Cairo, was jubilating and chanting the
dawn of a new beginning; the Senegalese miracle, a revolution without bloodshed. The magnitude of our hopeful expectations which you inspired was in proportion
to the amount of despair accompanying the alternative. You were blessed with great
ideas, great leaders and a whole country rallied behind you. So what went wrong, Mr. President? Perhaps we should attribute the shift to
your lack of vision, planning, and leadership. Could it be, Mr. President, that"the
hunger for power"drove you to forget that the "reason to represent people is not to feed on
the fatted calf, but rather to represent and defend the people"? Perhaps, Mr. President, I
should remind you of that.
When you quested and finally reached the goal of your personal Holy Grail, you
should not have stopped there. I respectfully suggest that, then, you should have
asked yourself, with compassionate deliberation, to whom else you might have offered this cup
of abundance, and to whom else you might have humbly offered its thirst-quenching
drink. I am confident, Mr. President, that you are already aware: to lead is to serve. As Jesus says to John, his beloved disciple: "You know that, in this world, kings are tyrants, and officials lord it over the people beneath them. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, And whoever wants to be first must become your slave." [Matthew 20:26-27]
You were probably more concerned about how to remain and conserve your power
for the rest of life than to fulfill the urgent needs of the population. For
example, while the passenger boat "Le Jola" needed a second engine to function properly,
you were more preoccupied by the refurbishing of your plane so that you could finally
materialize a childhood fantasia. If you are not on the same page with me, let me quote you
by using the exact words you wrote in your recent book, Une Vie pour l’Afrique [a Life
for Africa], on pages 36-37, where you mused : "I have received two prizes. Books . . .
which were related to spatial navigation . . . . I remember these books very well because
they correspond to something that preoccupied my mind: the immensity of space, the
sky, the universe. They’ve stolen those books. But during these millions of
kilometers which I have flown by plane, I have kept these images . . . The sky fascinates me. I have always dreamed of going around the world by spatial engine . . . Maybe one day . . . ."
Consequently, however, this defective boat ["Le Jola"] capsized in
the treacherous swells of the Atlantic Ocean, leaving thousands of children orphaned, and men and
women widowed, in a disaster which, by far, surpassed that of the
It seems that you have not learned the lesson, Mr. President. You are a puer
aeternus, a "perpetual boy", still pursuing your childhood dream – the tour of
the world -- yet blaming the rise of inflation on the rise of fuel costs. I am confused, Mr.
President. Or, maybe you are using the Senegalese water, instead of gas, to fuel your plane!
That probably explained the shortage of water in Senegal, not to mention the
shortage of rice, electricity, oil, and cooking gas.
You spent most of your time touring the world, while the Senegalese are deeply
suffering. You spend tax payers’ money creating irrelevant institutions so that you can
satisfy your political clienteles, while the youth who lost hope are risking their life by
taking the death boat from the Shore of Senegal to sunny Barcelona. Many of them are starkly
aware that the final destination is seeing death in the middle of the ocean, rather than
the light of hope in Spain.
I just read your brilliant article in the Chicago Tribune, "The New
Approach on Africa." Mr. President, it’s quite surprising that the name of your country does not
appear even once in the whole article. This confirms my suspicion, Mr. President that the
article itself is but a diversion. You are the last person to talk about environmental issues. There is no adequate sewage system in Senegal. It takes a mere two drops of
water for certain areas to be flooded and quickly become a safe-haven for mosquitoes to
breed and spread malaria. Pollution of the environment is a real issue in Senegal: an
emission test for motorists is just a drive-by visit. You forbid cars more than 5 years old
to enter the country, while you allow cars at least 20 years old to operate. What a shock! Waste disposal in the city is of enormous concern, especially the plastic bags
strewn destructively all over the city and polluting both water and soil. Although
there are environmental regulations, they are not enacted -- leaving industries to
pollute the atmosphere with the emission of gas causing breathing problems to healthy people.
Mr. President, we cannot be silent anymore, we must speak. Otherwise, another
generation will be sacrificed. Have you forgotten that freedom of speech is at
same time a constitutional and a fundamental right in every democracy worthy of
its name? Recently, just to speak about the most recent events, two journalists,
Kambel Dieng and Karamokho Thioune, respectively the head of RFM Sport and West Africa Democracy Radio were brutalized while doing their job. The perpetrators were not identified, therefore not punished. Translated into real life, persons
can get away with crime in Senegal without facing any prosecution. Another journalist, Latif Coulibaly, was dragged to court for revealing the looting of the national
lottery by Baila Wane. Thus, in Senegal, there seem to be two systems of justice: one which serves and protects the government, and another which punishes any
Mr. President, we can no longer be neutral, either – because, as Dante
Alighieri voiced it so well in these oft-cited prophetic words, "The hottest places
in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their