Philippe Bernard’s Writings on Senegal

Philippe Bernard, who will be helping to lead our discussion this coming Tuesday, has reported extensively on Africa for Le Monde. Before that, he covered issues surrounding immigration and race in France. In both roles, he produced important and eloquent journalism. Here are two articles by him that I would like those of you who read French to read before next Tuesday so you have a sense of his work. The first is an examination of the lives of the poor in Dakar, the second a fascinating biographical sketch of a Senegalese man who fought for France during the second World War as a “tiralleur Senegalais.” In class, you’ll be able to ask him questions about his work as a journalist and his perspective on the contemporary situation in Africa.

Vivre à Dakar avec deux dollars par jour

Le dernier de la Force noire

For those of you in the English section, try and find a recent news item related to Senegal before Tuesday that you can bring up in class, and post a link or discussion here in the comments section.

2 thoughts on “Philippe Bernard’s Writings on Senegal”

  1. Thanks, Becky. This is really terrific material, and fascinating to see the political role of music, which parallels what we saw during the “Arab Spring” in Egypt and Tunisia. Great finds!

  2. Written on September 18 of this year, I found an article that explains a recent uprising of music into politics in Dakar, Senegal. Referring to the political system in Senegal as “stagnant” and musicians like Fou Malade and Thiat as “anything but”, Senegalese rappers are hitting youth hard with their strong political views against President Abdoulaye Wade, even forcing him to step back and cease constitutional changes that would allow (and pretty much ensure) his third term as President. These rappers’ lyrics and music have fueled young Senegalese males to the point that they have run through the streets, rioting this summer with tear gas and the burning of tires.

    In reading this article, I was reminded of our discussion of MC Solaar and his ability to impact the French people with his lyrics, exhibited in the song we studied “Les Colonies”. There were also various student postings regarding MC Solaar’s influence through other songs that came to mind. Because of this parallel, I wanted to hear for myself a song by one of these artists. The song that I found, named “Folie Politik” by Fou Malade, seemed like a pretty strong candidate for illustrating everything the New York Times article indicated-claims against politics to ignite young Senegalese people to uprise. I was unable to find the translation, but I did find the song on youtube that is paired with an interesting slideshow of police officers, political leaders, the senegal flag, and boats of people fleeing to Europe (which, I read in a different NYT article, has become more and more common given the current state of Senegal). The last image is an image of President Wade, with the caption “L’avocat et le diable” (the advocate and the devil), which I am guessing is a play on words to the phrase “l’avocat du diable”, or the devil’s advocate.

    Here is the article:

    Here is Fou Malade’s “On Va Tout Dire (Folie Politik)” on youtube:

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