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FEATURES  

Bonjour Senegal!!! - Part 2 - Telescope Dakar, Senegal
By Ralph Sawyer
Oct 6, 2011, 17:06
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In part one of this informative feature on my life and work in Senegal, I entertained the reader about my re-assignment as Information Attach to the Sierra Leone Embassies in Senegal and The Gambia, my state of mind, journey and envisaged challenges. Grosso modo or in brief, Im now in my office in down town Dakar and trs occupe (occupied) with work, since the Embassy has just opened.

 

Well, it is 09:21 GMT and a bright and sunny Sunday morning here in Dakar and Im sitting on the top of my concrete roof in a neighborhood called Mamelles (breast) at the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and overlooking Dakar International Airport while sipping a glass of Lipton tea as I write this little piece of mine.

 

Gazing down the 700-yards stretch of my street, I could see no human beings but only a horse tied to a small tree, swaging its long tail to ward off disturbing flies. Senegalese, dont usually get out of bed early on weekends mais Ils restent au lit (but stay in bed), oftentimes awake till  aprs midi (afternoon). Once up, they take a cup of China tea and chat loosely on various subjects with politics of course, in the centre of it all.

 

Join me now please for a tea cup full of information about Senegal!

Monument de la Renaissance Africaine, overlooking the Sedar Senghor International Airport in Dakar

 

Senegal, with Dakar as its capital is situated in the West coast of Africa and a member state of ECOWAS and whose flag comprises of Green, Yellow (with a star in the middle) and Red. Her neighbors are the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Guinea, Cape Verde and The Gambia narrowly penetrating the southern half of Senegal with about 320 kilometers. 

 

One can rightly describe the Senegalese landscape as completely flat land and punctuated by very few hills and a typically tropical climate around the country with a more friendly one in and around the region of Dakar and further north in Saint Louis, the former capital of French West Africa. 


Put a Senegalese among 25 other nations and ask a non-Senegalese to identify a Senegalese. He would easily point him/her out at just a glance: mostly dressed in gown, tall, slim and mostly black and Gris meaning very black in Serrer the mother tongue of the late Leopold Sedar Senghor. (This would easily bring to ones mind the clarion call of President Koroma for us to go back to our roots and hold on strong to our culture, especially in the area of dressing and food). I however make some noticeable commendations: (persons I have always seen in their African attire especially on Fridays) President Koroma himself, VP Sam Sumana, Madam Sia Koroma, Ambassador Dauda Kamara, Joseph B. Dauda, Sulay Daramy and Emmanuel Giama.(to name but few).s

 

Senegal is a football-loving nation and a people who love themselves and always eager to express themselves openly and frankly according to their ability and level of understanding on a plethora of issues.

 

The capital can rightly boast of well laid-out city with modern architecture especially in the plateau or heart of the capital. There is hardly anything like a no-mans land between or among buildings as they are practically joined together. Im reliably informed that this is because the soil is soft (sandy).

 

The road network are superb! You will never walk about 60 steps without meeting a bend, a roundabout or a street. Straight from your flight to anywhere in down town Dakar, you will observe that the people are really a business-minded generation with shops and hawkers at every sight.

 

Primarily, Senegalese are ethnocentric and proud of what they eat, wear, talk and sing about. There are over five dozens of tubes by musicians glorifying their nation and their traditional leaders, let alone the generation of griots or praisingers who sing and sing to eulogize their spiritual guides, heroes and heroines.

Youll never end a conversation with a Senegalese, be it privileged or formal without luring you into the world of politics, music industry or soccer and thereby offering them the  opportunity to talk about and glorify their superstars like Alioune Thiam (Akon), Baba Mal and Youssou Ndour and of course their football star Elhaj Diouf.

 

Senegal has a population of about 12,643,799 according to their 2011 census estimate, with an annual population growth rate of 2.5%. Among her ethnic groups are the Wolof 43%, fulani23%, Serer15%, Madingo and Diola and others19%. It would not surprise anyone to know that the Muslim religion dominates with 94%, Christians 5% and traditional religion or animists 1%. The West African state of Senegal, speaks French as her official language with Wolof, Peulh (Fula), Serer, Diola, Madingue (Mandingo) and Soninke are lingua franca.

 

In the area of education, Senegal has a literacy rate of 59.1% and with regards health, infant mortality rate is put at 56.4/ 1/000 and life expectancy of 59.78 years. Her work Force is pegged at 5.53 million, whilst agriculture is put at a higher rating of 77.5%. (Subsistence or cash crops) Industry and services takes 22.55%.

 

Senegal gained her independence in 1960 from the French and has a Republican type of government as that of Sierra Leone (Executive, Legislative and Judiciary). The entire country is divided into administrative sub- divisions of 14 regions, 34 departments and 320 rural councils.

 

POLITICAL: Senegal has a total of 73 registered political parties unlike Sierra Leone that has fewer and which citizens with like and unlike minds strongly criticize. Senegals leading political parties are the ruling Parti Democratique Senegalais of Abdoulaye Wade, Rewmi of Idrissa Seck a former Premier Wade and a 2012 presidential aspirant; Alliance de Forces de Progrs of Mustapha Niasse and also a former Premier of Wade and a 2012 presidential candidate as and Alliance pour le Republique Yakaar of Macky Sall also a former Premier of Wade and a 2012 presidential candidate.

 

Leopard Sedar Senghor was Senegals first President as we all know but he turned over power to his then Premier Abdou Diouf and then came Abdoulaye Wade, who ascended to power in 2000. Presidential and Parliamentary elections are scheduled for February 2012.

 

It would no doubt surprise many to learn that Senegal is one of the few African States that has never experienced a Coup dtat (albeit one was mooted but aborted in the 6os) There has been no successful coup detat in this country for one and very simple reason: UNPOLITICISED MILITARY.

 

SENEGALS NON INTERFERENCE IN POLITICAL AFFAIRS OF OTHER NATIONS has significantly contributed to the enviable STABILITY of this country. It can vividly be remembered that Senegal contributed a battalion to UNAMSIL to defend our dear Sierra Leone from the enemies of the people. Senegals main donors are France, IMF, World Bank, USA, the EU and with excellent support from the Arab States mainly Saudi Arabia.

 

BUDGET: Receives $ 2.726B and expenditure of $3.315B. Her Defense expenditure in 2007 was pegged at $133M. The GDP in 2009 was put at $12.82B. Per Capital GDP 2010 was $ 1.900. An inflation rate/consumer price was 1.2% in 2010.

 

With regards natural resources, Senegal reaps its main income from tourism which is centered in the picturesque but troubled Casamance region. The country is also blessed with gold, titanium, cotton, fish, peanuts and phosphate.

 

HOSPITALITY: As a diplomat (though a journalist in the inside) I will refrain from commenting on her hospitality. I supposedly need some clarification or go ahead from my Minister I.B Kargbo or his deputy (my former State House Boss- PRESS ONE) Sheka Tarawally not so? Yes, of course! However for now, I will leave no room for guessing and just simply close my big mouth. Maybe one should adapt the saying here When you go to Rome do as the Romans do

 

En tout cas (In any case), what I would say and without any reservation is that hospitality within the circle of the Presidency is just superb! Tshe French protocol and hospitality is second to none in the world! 

 

What any first time visitor to Senegal would not and should not miss is the multi-million and tallest statue in the world, the MONUMENT DE LA RENAISSANCE AFRICAINE which is located at the edge of the African continent along the Atlantic Ocean and overlooking Dakar. It is made up of a man (Europe) a woman (America) and a child (Africa) pointing into the horizon.

This is President Wades vision of Africa: the continent with a future (the child).  The extraordinary and unbelievable statue was constructed by a North Korean sculptor translating President Wades wild sense of imagination he wrote into a poem over 30 years ago when he was in opposition but with a dream that came true...the monument is the pride of Africamark my words!

 

According to the North Korean Sculptor the monument will stand the test of time by braving both storm and weather for 150 years.


By and large, the West African State of Senegal with Dakar as its capital though expensive (among the five most expensive countries in the world) is but a nice and beautiful country to visit as well as her memorable sites like Gore, the slave island where Sierra Leoneans also passed through. The country is a must to visit and its memories will forever linger and linger in your mind, your mind and indeed in your mind.

 

BY:- Ralph EseDonnu Sawyerr (Information Attach)

Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone in Senegal, The Gambia, Mauritania, Morocco & Cape Verde.


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