Monday, April 09, 2012

Happy 52nd, Senegal!

52 years of independence
April 4th is Senegal's Independence Day.  On that day, in 1960, France signed a transfer of power agreement that awarded Senegal and other French territories in west Africa their independence and political autonomy.

Senegal's status as a republic, with an elected government, came under duress last year when former President Abdoulaye Wade, nearing the end of his second term as president, amended the country's constitution to allow himself to run for a third term.  Autocracy is not uncommon in Africa.  All too often, African republics evolve into dictatorships or fall victim to coups d'etat.

Senegal, however, overcame the danger.  Last year, students and other political activist groups began demonstrating against Wade's amendment.  Touch-and-go for a while.  There was some rioting and the threat of escalating violence.

But then, in February of this year, Wabe agreed to comply with the results of a national election that replaced him with the new and current president, Macky Sall.  A victory for democratic politics in this young republic!

M'barou, Maty, and Nadiya setting up for the feast
As I've mentioned before, there is an active Senegalese community here in Portland.  Every year they have a party celebrating Senegal's independence.  As the husband of a Senegalese immigrant, I've become part of that community and thus, attended the party this last Saturday.

This year's party was smaller and more somber out of respect for one of the Senegalese families in town which is struggling with a child's illness.  This is a close-knit community and it didn't seem appropriate to have a big bash while one member is gravely ill. 

Senegalese ladies in their finery
Nonetheless, the Senegalese folks got together for a feast and a little music. The festivities started off with a call for donations to help the family in need and a singing of Senegal's national anthem.

Then came the food and the dancing. Good times.  Senegalese folks know how to party.

Happy Independence Day, Senegal.


Odile Quennoz said...

Did they cook Tié-bou-dien  and Soupe Kandia ?

Relaquist said...