26 Saturday January 2013; The Fed Up youth movement of Senegal or Y’en a marre celebrated its one year anniversary last week with a press briefing auditing some of the promises made by Senegal’s new president MackySall. Their audit however was not nearly as controversial as the current National Audit instituted by President MackySall on all former government officials and ministers who served under former President AbdoulayeWade’s government. Assertions by one of the outspoken youth movement leaders that the basic cost of living in Senegal (Dakar especially) has not only remained high but is increasing at a very fast rate, were met with emphatic nods from journalists in attendance. During his 2012 presidential campaign President MackySall promised that he would immediately reduce the cost of basic foods such as oil, rice, sugar, gas and electricity and so forth once he assumed power. He called a meeting with retailers, suppliers and merchants in the country within the second or third week of his presidency in 2012, which increased confidence levels in him as he was seen to be genuinely trying to do something to fulfill his many promises. He found himself already stuck between a rock and a hard place. Rice, Oil, Sugar are all imported basic foods, never mind gas and the rolling electricity problem whose infrastructure has not been upgraded since Abdou Diof’s Presidency more than 20 years ago. Abdoulaye Wade during his presidency did make attempts at attending to the large electricity infrastructure problem in the country, assigning the problem the problem to his son Karim Wade to sort out. But even for Wade the dream and promise of honour and glory at the end of a very long and hard political career, equivalent if not higher that the statue of Liberty took hold and infrastructure investments in the country changed from upgrading public infrastructure for the greater good to investments glorifying Abdoulaye Wade. During the turbulent pre-election period in Senegal, people’s anger against Wade was reminiscent of a beautiful and long love affair gone bitter-sweet. “We could have erected a more splendid monument for former President Abdoulaye Wade, in honour of his vast contribution to the development of this country, he would have been honoured and revered throughout Senegal, but he went and built it himself and forgot about us poor people” On trader remarked last year during last year’s almost daily protests in downtown Dakar ahead of the elections.
Abdoulaye Wade in the end used Art to cement his legacy and turn some of his biggest fans against him. The Rennaisance Monument, it’s forward looking Idealism, embodied in the bodies of the nuclear family greeting new arrivals in the city does not mirror the country’s’ lived values by the majority of its Muslim citizens. But Art is Art and Senegalese respect the Arts. And I am quite fond of this work of Art by one of the female protestors, demonstrating in real terms what they mean by the cost of living being too high.
Detractors of the Senegalese Fed Up youth movement, formed in January last year in protest against former President Abdoulaye Wade standing for presidential elections for a third term, say the group of MC’s Rappers and Musicians really just took advantage of a political gap to sell their records, make money and gain free and unprecedented publicity for their work. I am a still dancing to one of their catch phrase songs – Gurgi Na dem” which was sung by all and sundry. The song echoed a sentiment shared by many Senegalese that it was time for 84 year Old Abdoulaye Wade to make way for a younger leader to come into power.
Make no mistake, Abdoulaye Wade is a visionary much like former South African President Thabo Mbeki who both hoped that they would be in the forefront of realizing that dream held by so many of Africa’s Brightest stars and Leaders, a United Africa, moving to was peace love and prosperity. Mbeki Mbeki hope to realize this through in his New Plan For Africa’s development NEPAD, Abdoulaye Wade also had a similar plan for Africa’s development, but seemingly both could not work together to make that possible, even though both countries have more in common than meets the eye.
MackySall is still a very strategic man, turning attention away from the more complex problems of high food prices and the tensions in the Casamance region in the North; he institutes a national Audit into former government officials and ministers, investigating corruption in all government departments. But his plan at grabbing the tempting low hanging fruit of justice could soon turn against him. Abdoulaye Wade’s party PDS (Senegalese democratic party) has written to the regional body ECOWAS complaining that the country’s Justice System was unfairly targeting government officials and ministers who are close to Wade in the national audit, while Macky Sall and his friends, who have all held positions under Abdoulaye Wade Government have been so far exempted from investigations. Politicians and citizens are in agreement, an audit into the country’s public administration departments is necessary. “ But all former government officials and ministers without exception should be investigated including President Macky Sall and his allies who all served under Abdoulaye Wade’s government” said one senior political journalist in the country. ECOWAS has agreed to looking into the issue, though, this does not meet that the audit will be suspedent while Ecowas does its work. Already Abdoulaye Wade’s Son has already endured three days of back to back interrogation into his financial conduct while he was in government and however noble his intentions are Macky Sall’s National audit risks being seen as just another political revenge tactic which has nothing to do with solving the country’s many problems. Sall was expelled from Abdoulaye Wade’s PDS Party in 2008 after he called Karim Wade to account for over spending in parliament.
For its part Yan’nemmar says it is encouraged the international networks it was able to build in the last year, and is looking forward to making yan’ammmer a sustainable movement which will continue to speak truth to power and mobilize and call the youth the action where necessary. Youth unemployment was one of their concerns during the elections, and just a walk through down-town Dark one can see an increase in street merchants trading everything from shoes, clothing, books, art and crafts, second had high fashion, Senegalese’s fashion, sunglasses underwear, belts, shoes, coffee (nescafe), coffe ( Touba), water, tea , tooth brushes, it’s like downtown Jozi on a Bigger scale. At the same time, there’s been an increase in cars on Dakar’s already busy streets, huge expensive land Ravers the kind of luxury cars I see on TV are becoming common sights in Senegal, so are the number of street children who rush to the cars with begging bowls asking and demanding money from their richer fellows. A sight which makes it impossible to deny that there is growth and development in the country or that poverty is increasing in the number of beggars everywhere. Two sides of the same coin. It’s a life’s philosophy that is made so clear and palpable in almost every aspect of Senegalese life, which reminds me, it’s time for tea, that bitter-sweet liquid that is an essential part of the fabric of Senegalese life.