Senegal 2017

  • The Search for the Sacred Woods

    Senegal’s southern Casamance region is one torn by a decades-long conflict. Separated from the rest of the country by the Gambia, residents of the southern Senegalese community often felt economically and politically marginalized. It is this feeling of abandonment that prompted the rise of the separatist Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) in the early ’80s. The MFDC’s call for independence from the national government led to a violent conflict between rebels and the Senegalese state that extended until 2014, when a ceasefire was declared. Throughout the conflict, women in Casamance played a key role in the region’s peacemaking process, promoting dialogue between rebel groups and the national government, and raising awareness about the impacts of war on local communities. To find strength and courage in their fight, women often turned to a special place: the bois sacr...

  • The Gambia and Zimbabwe: a tale of two kleptos

    This post was first published as a syndicated column via IOL and Independent Media. In the central lobby of the Banjul International Airport, a painting of Yahya Jammeh, the former president of The Gambia, adorns the ceiling. Jammeh, in his characteristic white, free-flowing kaftan, is shown with his arms wide open, a Qur’an in one hand and a short staff in another. Passers-by and passengers look up at the ceiling and chuckle at the Sistine Chapel-like knock-off. It’s been almost a year since Jammeh lost the December 2016 presidential elections that pushed him into exile in Equatorial Guinea and yet here he was, still looking down on us. Indeed, I consider it a rather wicked twist of fate that I found myself in southern Senegal and then in The Gambia when the action began in Zimbabwe last week. I would have...

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