Tuesday, August 16, 2011

‘Y en a marre’ (Enough is Enough)

While we were in Senegal, several protests broke out in Dakar. It was over the 48 hour power cut. The government hadn’t been able to provide enough electricity to satisfy the people for years but no power for 2 days was just ridiculous. It wasn’t just about the electricity. There was recently a proposal by the president to change the constitution. The 85-year old President Wade, who ruled Senegal for 11 years, wanted to be elected again next year. Previously, one needed more than 50% of the votes to win the presidential election but he wanted to reduce it to 25%. I guess he knew that he wasn’t favored by the people. But it wasn’t just about him. He wanted to introduce the concept of “vice president“ to Senegal, which does not have vice president, so that he can transfer the power to his son, Karim. (Later, he withdrawn his proposal) US embassy sent out a warning and it was so serious that our professors had a meeting to decide whether it was safe to stay or not. We were escorted home but on the way I saw buses on fire and tires being torched. All the roads were blocked so it was hard to get to home. There were rumors that some people were heading to the Renaissance monument to destroy it. The police used tear gas to scatter the crowd and it was my first time exposure to the tear gas. Then, we went to Penina and Kalima’s house to see the mini protest that broke out in front of their house. It was an intense night.
We feel the aches and pains when we are growing taller. I think that it applies to the countries too. When a nation is growing and changing, it is inevitable to experience the aches and pains. When we look at the history, the fights and wars over wealth and power were usually nonsensical, excessively selfish and unreasonable. I thought that maybe it is just a human nature to want more and more. I thought what we should focus on in a situation like this maybe isn’t about how ridiculous the attempts of the President Wade are or how corrupted the government is, but maybe we should focus on about the changes in Senegalese attitude and awareness; how they now refuse to take it lying down, how they are taking the matter into their own hands and how they are reacting actively. Even though this situation made me frustrated and furious, I’d like to think that this is the beginning of new Senegal where no monarchy is allowed and people can use electricity without shortages.

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