Posts Tagged ‘Senegal’

Colonization All Over. So Why So Bad?

March 23, 2017

It goes without saying that colonization was a terrible thing, whine those who want to look good to themselves and other whiners. Colonization was a crime, they insist. At least that’s what PC people howl on every roof, as part of their unwitting campaign of rage against civilization. Because civilization, which was not civilized, caused colonization, this evil of evils, they crowe. Right.

We the descendants of the colonized shall howl from every roof what victims we are.

We the descendants of the colonizers, shall howl on every roof what criminals we are.

We the bipolar paranoid schizophrenic stand as accused, and may as well be mowed down by Islam driving SUVs, trucks, jumbo jets, and non sense, all over us.


Indeed, ladies and gentlemen, who does not descend from colonialists and colonizers?

All the Americas were colonized.

All of Oceania was colonized (twice at least).

Was the colonization of Australia by aborigines (who are part Denisovans), 50,000 years ago, a bad thing? It killed a lot of marsupials!

Sénégal: Organized, unified, but never really colonized! A very rare case!

Japan was colonized (twice at least). Japanese civilization started for real, when the archipelago was colonized. By the Chinese.

Some will say China was never colonized. Well, there used to be 100 nations with 100 languages in China, as recently as three centuries ago (the emperor himself recognized then, in a very sophisticated intellectual exchange with the Jesuits; and he expressed both his will to respect that, and his incapacity to do otherwise). However, nowadays, Mandarin (just one language) is taking over, all over. And all Chinese are forced to assimilate with the Borg in Beijing. That’s colonization therein. Is it bad? My daughter is learning Chinese, or, more exactly, Mandarin. She will be able to talk all over.

Madagascar was colonized (thrice; from Indonesia, Africa, France). Even Greenland was conquered by the Inuits, who pushed away the Vikings… (On their way, the Inuits had annihilated previous denizens in the northern Canada archipelago…)

Most of Africa was colonized multiple times. By descendants of Neanderthals (!), Bantus, Phoenicians, Greco-Romans, Arabs, etc.

All of Russia is a huge colony, all the way to Kamchatka. “Russ” initially means Eastern Swedes.  The Eastern Swedes, Viking style, invaded the huge placid rivers of Eastern Europe, all the way down to the Black Sea (where they could trade with the Romans). In the Tenth Century, Vladimir of Kiev conquered Crimea from the local Khan (Mongols who had themselves conquered centuries earlier the Greeks, who had conquered a millennium prior, etc.)  

Even China was momentarily (a few centuries here and there) conquered by Buddhists, Tibetans, Mongols, Mandchous…

Arabia was greatly colonized by Persia, much later Turkey (Ottomans) for centuries.


Europe, shortly before Rome rose, was invaded by the Celto-Germans, who covered up the entire continent, all the way to Anatolia. When Caesar invaded, Gaul (“Gallia”) was made of 60 nation-states.

Much of India was invaded, colonized by white men coming from the north, central Asia, four thousand years ago, or more. That’s why India and Europe enjoy the same Indo-European language family.

Egypt was invaded by the Arabs, more exactly by Caliph Omar’s army. Never recovered (whereas Egypt had recovered from colonization by Black Pharaohs, Nubians, Sea People, Libyans, Greeks and Romans). Egyptians themselves had to decolonize the Sahara desert and concentrate on the Nile Valley and adjoining oases.


A real question is: which places in the world were not colonized?

Paradoxically, much of West Africa is one of the most pristine, uncolonized places.

West Africa is generally viewed as having been a French, British, Portuguese colony, and that’s superficially true.

West Africa also exported a lot of slaves (to the Americas).

However, West Africa was one of the much untouched places. (Contrarily to whiny repute!)

Not like Europe: all old European languages were wiped out by the Indo-European, Celto-German invasion (or close to it: Basque is a tiny remnant of what once was.)

And don’t brandish southern Europeans as old stock: the Middle Easterners came from the Fertile Crescent, with their futuristic crops (wheat, etc.) and their genes, 9,000 years ago. Another invasion to run over the many Sapiens invasions all over Europe, in the last 100,000 years. Neanderthals made it to North Africa, big time, and their genes to South Africa, but apparently not to West Africa.


A real question: when is colonization good, when is it bad?

From the point of view of the invaded, one will guess that colonization is often bad. Yes, but not always. The invasion of Gallia by Caesar would end up creating the strongest part of the Roman empire, Francia, and the Birth of the West. Viewed that way, it was a good thing. And it sure is a good thing if there was no other way to get that good thing. Was it? We don’t know. Was Caesar innocent of the invasion? We don’t really know.


“Colonization” in West Africa was mostly a joke, or more exactly, civilizing: ten French officers ordered around 5,000 Senegalese soldiers who, truly, conquered Sénégal. So, in truth, Senegal conquered Senegal under French management. In truth, there were basically no colons in Senegal: the land stayed property of the Senegalese (compare with the USA, where Indian lands were nearly completely distributed by the colonial government in Washington to the European colons!)

A big argument for the “colonization” of Africa was the eradication of slavery, which was endemic, pandemic, chronic, extensive and ubiquitous in Africa (the globalization of African slavery to the Americas, escaping the long arm of European law, has not been properly characterized…)

Here are the national languages of Senegal:

Some of these languages are tonal, some are not (making them a different as latin and Chinese!) It goes without saying that packing such different nations in so tight a space (less than 200,000 square kilometers), result in mayhem, just to keep the population stable. So Senegal has, rightly so, just one national language.


Colonization is good when it brings lots of progress, and less mayhem:

This should go without saying. However, the usual interpretation of (hard) multiculturalism is that all cultures are equally worth of respect. This thesis implies that progress does not exist. So we may as well regress, and have plutocracy.

So we see who these proponents of hard multiculturalism were trying to seduce: the powers that be.

By refusing to see when, how colonization has been, and could be, good, they refuse to bring reason to judge destiny. A silly attitude, considering how fast destiny moves these days.

But of course fundamentally hypocritical.

At least, nobody can accuse me to be a hypocrite. I don’t under (hypo) criticize. It’s much more fun, to over-criticize… And criticize all over… Colonization: assess, but don’t deny, its crimes, just as its merits. And remember the fine lines between colonization and immigration.

Patrice Ayme’

Senegal Cleaner. Britain, Rest Of West, Clueless

March 23, 2015

The son of the previous president of Senegal, Karim Wade, was condemned to six years in jail. Reason? A special Senegalese “Anti-Corruption Court” found that, thanks to complex financial conspiracies, Karim stole 178 million dollars.

He was also condemned to a 230 million dollar fine. Wade, Karim, does not have (yet) to regurgitate most of his 1.4 billion dollar fortune.

President Wade was (officially) a socialist, and ruled for 12 years.

Now Senegal, a country where I grew more, as a child, than any other, has a long democratic tradition.

There Are Better Things To Do In Senegal Than Hypocritically Whine About Slavery

There Are Better Things To Do In Senegal Than Hypocritically Whine About Slavery

Judge Henri Gregoire Diop said Wade had hidden away funds in offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands and Panama: “The facts before us constitute illicit enrichment by Karim Wade“.

Notice that plutocracy is global. Many of the richest people in Britain escape taxation by claiming to reside in just those places, where Karim hid (some) of his corruption money. But, there in the UK, supposedly a democracy, that sort of corruption is perfectly legal. Maybe Karim should have become British in a timely manner?


Corruption In West; Example Of Britain:

I have been saying this sort of things for years. George Monbiot, in The Guardian, just noticed it in “Let’s not fool ourselves. We may not bribe, but corruption is rife in Britain”

[Thanks to Paul Handover for calling my attention to Monbiot’s article.]

Says Mr. Monbiot:Common practices in the rich nations that could reasonably be labelled corrupt are excluded [from consideration when evaluating countries’ corruption]; common practices in the poor nations are emphasized [to claim that they are the ones which are corrupted, whereas corruption in poor nations is mickey-mouse stuff relative to the industrial strength, astronomical corruption in the richest nations].

This week a ground-changing book called How Corrupt is Britain?, edited by David Whyte, is published. It should be read…

Would there still be commercial banking sector in this country if it weren’t for corruption? Think of the list of scandals: pensions mis-selling, endowment mortgage fraud, the payment protection insurance scam, Libor rigging, insider trading and all the rest. Then ask yourself whether fleecing the public is an aberration – or the business model.

No senior figure has been held criminally liable or has even been disqualified for the practices that helped to trigger the financial crisis, partly because the laws that should have restrained them were slashed by successive governments. A former minister in this government ran [the huge, immensely criminally corrupt, politicians, drug lords and Al Qaeda financing, bank] HSBC while it engaged in systematic tax evasion, money laundering for drugs gangs and the provision of services to Saudi and Bangladeshi banks linked to the financing of terrorists. Instead of prosecuting the bank, the head of the UK’s tax office went to work for it when he retired.


Britain As Tax Heaven: Second Best

Monbiot is obviously unfamiliar with the reality of plutocratic rule in the USA. If he were, he would realize that Britain is the World’s Second Tax Haven. But, otherwise, all he says is correct:

The City of London, operating with the help of British overseas territories and crown dependencies, is the world’s leading tax haven, controlling 24% of all offshore financial services. It offers global capital an elaborate secrecy regime, assisting not just tax evaders but also smugglers, sanctions- busters and money-launderers.

As the French investigating magistrate Eva Joly has complained, the City “has never transmitted even the smallest piece of usable evidence to a foreign magistrate”. The UK, Switzerland, Singapore, Luxembourg and Germany are all ranked by Transparency International as among the least corrupt nations in the world. They are also listed by the Tax Justice Network as among the worst secrecy regimes and tax havens. For some reason, though, that doesn’t count.

The Private Finance Initiative has been used by our governments to deceive us about the extent of their borrowing while channelling public money into the hands of corporations. Shrouded in secrecy, stuffed with hidden sweeteners, it has landed hospitals and schools with unpayable debts, while hiding public services from public scrutiny.

Relying on the World Bank to assess corruption is like asking Vlad the Impaler for an audit of human rights.”

Except that Vlad could make a human right argument (freeing his country from impaling Islamists). Our present plutocrats and their greedy servants can make no such argument.

I will write more about the problems in Britain in the future.

Here is George Monbiot’s conclusion, which is pertinent to the problems less developed countries encounter, as they are dominated by Western plutocracy:

“For organisations such as the World Bank and the World Economic Forum, there is little difference between the public interest and the interests of global corporations. What might look like corruption from any other perspective looks to them like sound economics. The power of global finance and the immense wealth of the global elite are founded on corruption, and the beneficiaries have an interest in framing the question to excuse themselves.

[And they do, with the help of economics departments and pundits, all over the globe.]

Yes, many poor nations are plagued by the kind of corruption that involves paying bribes to officials. But the problems plaguing us run deeper. When the system already belongs to the elite, bribes are superfluous.”


In the West, it is not just politicians who are corrupt. It is the law itself. It was written, for plutocrats, by their servants. This is, of course, the way plutocracy has always operated. They even have done better in the USA: they made the USA into a so-called “Christian nation”, a place where the befuddled worries more about some guy who never existed, than in bothering to perceived that they are exploited in a system increasingly reminiscent of serfdom.


Why Is Senegal So Civilized?

Wade was a senior minister in his father’s government, and was in charge of major infrastructure and energy projects. It was a time when Korean factory ships were allowed to hug the Senegalese coast line, making a fortune for themselves, and starving the Senegalese (who depend heavily upon fish for proteins).

The Senegalese dubbed the soon immensely wealthy Karim “minister of the earth and the sky“.

How did Senegal become so wise?

Three millennia of trading ideas from all over.

Senegal was mostly freed from the past when a handful of French officers under Paris’ command, pacified and unified the country in the nineteenth century. The dozen or so officers commanded an army of 5,000 natives (who did all the work).

Contacts between Senegal and the West are much older than that: under Louis XIV, Senegalese had French nationality. Much earlier Senegal had a salted fish trade going on with Carthage (showing that the human impact on the Mediterranean is not new).


Inverted Gorée Racism, PC Style:

Nowadays, when supposedly knowledgeable Westerners only talk about the tiny island of Gorée when evoking Senegal, sort of like talking only about the guillotine when evoking France, or the electric chair, when evoking the USA.

It is a subtle, unconscious, anti-French, anti-Senegalese racism (the so-called “House of Slaves” in Gorée was built by a Franco-Senegalese family).

In truth, as the French controlled Gorée for nearly three centuries, except for 4 years under British control, few slaves passed through it. The French frowned on the slave trade, but certainly could not outlaw it completely until they ruled Senegal!

What counts in a civilizations is what has been institutionalized. In advanced parts of Senegal, for centuries, the part the French controlled, slavery was not institutionalized (differently from the USA, and other forsaken places).


Worst In The Rest:

The rest of the West (Senegal is part of the West, civilizationally speaking), is also corrupt, but the corrupt politicians there do not get judged, just admired.

Worse: the systems of thought, moods, and institutions connected to them, are corrupt… to the point few believe they are.

Here is an on-going example.

Right now the central banks of the West keep interest rates roughly around zero percent. The reason that is officially proclaimed is that, thus, the banks can extend very low interest loans to economic actors.

However, that is a lie.

80% of the money presently created goes to High Financial sector. Only 20% goes to the real economy.

This is corruption. Why are judges not rising? Because they have been brain-washed, long ago. Also the corruption is more spread-out, in the leading countries, than it was in Senegal. Millions feed off the excesses of the banking or health-industrial complex.

What Karim Wade was doing has been philosophically determined, long ago, as corrupt. Not so for the present banking, or even, political system.


Meanwhile Among Blown-Away Microbes…

95% of the capital of the Republic of Vanuatu, a long but tiny archipelago in the next ridge north of New Caledonia, has been destroyed by a greenhouse force 5 cyclone.

A few decades ago, Vanuatu was called the “New Hebrides” and was part of Britain and France. If it still was such a part and portion, no doubt the French and British government would use their considerable means to help (the French are helping, but not as much as if Vanuatu was still part of France).

So called “decolonization” has passed by, and Vanuatuans are now free to independently fend for themselves.

(As above with Karim Wade, so-called “decolonization” is all about global plutocrats making irresistible deals with local potentates. By the way, Karim does not have to regurgitate most of his ill-gotten fortune. I am ready to bet much is in French banks, cozy and cuddly with stolen Greek fortunes…)

Good luck to Vanuatu in its hut rebuilding project. GDP per capita in Vanuatu in 2014 was $3,200. In next door French New Caledonia, per capita GDP is $39,000 (about 12 times more).

Empire has its advantages. But less so, and even just the opposite, when under the orders of plutocrats.

Patrice Ayme’

Civilisation Sénégalaise

April 12, 2012


Abstract: The republic of Senegal demonstrates that many of the conventional wisdoms are as wrong as wrong can be. Sénégal is a country with a very old civilization, even its own secular civilization (some of it disguised as the local Sufi Islam).  

That Senegalese civilization,  is more advanced, on many important markers, than the Euro-American block. So say Senegalese philosophers, including yours not so humble servant (now flaunting his African hat).

The West ought to support and defend Sénégal, because it’s about supporting and defending the essence of the West’s civilization. Much can be done, at little cost, while bringing enormous gain. The first of which being to gain great African wisdom.

Oh, and did I mention my dad led the team which found lots of very thick oil off Casamance? It was too expensive to extract at the time, but will be profitable some day. That ought to interest the West’s plutocrats.

Last, but not least. Readers may think I am “Islamophobic”, but, besides being afraid of nought, what I truly despise is the myth of Abraham: tying up a child, telling him one will cut his throat, just to please the “jealous” boSS, who glorifies in his “jealousy” (see the Second Commandment in the Bible).

As it turns out, not only I do not have a problem with Islam, Senegalese style, but I even approve of it, as it has great social virtues. (I also fear that Saudi Wahhabism, propelled by oil money, and the feudal conspiracy born out of world plutocracy will succeed to kill Senegalese Islam, which has been gaining adepts throughout the world.)

African philosophy has two main advantages:

1) It is closer to the original main philosophical operating system Homo Sapiens operated by, and evolved under. In full. It has not be led astray, constrained, mutilated, put into a box.

2) People raised in Africa have, close at hand, a cultural jump that spanned 3,000 years of history. So they can not just compare diverse cultures, but diverse places in history.


Sénégal is bounded on the north and east by the river with that name. To the west lays the Atlantic ocean. Three quarters of the country is in the Sahel zone, which has been heating up, and drying. The country had only one significant resource: fishing. However international trawler fleets have been devastating the ocean, ruining the diet of the Senegalese.

A country such as France would send gun boats (as she did against foreign fishers in the last ten years). But now Sénégal is independent… Of France.

Sénégal did not ask for independence from France, France just wanted to make economies, as one of the ministers involved admitted… 40 years later: it was too expensive to maintain a full hospital every 100 kilometers, so France threw independence at much of black Africa, to get rid of it ASAP (and open Africa to plutocrats).

Some have said it’s better to die standing up, rather than to live on one’s knees. But, if Sénégal runs completely out of fish, Senegalese will not been able to do either, as they will lay in the dirt, dying of hunger, or, at least lack of proteins.

Reading this, armies of vegetarians will utter that one can survive with plants alone. It is true that West Africa has its own rice, evolved there, and it is grown in southern Sénégal. However neither beans, nor potatoes can be grown in lowland equatorial Africa (too warm). And milk is not a possibility either: local cattle gives meat, not milk (nor has cattle a realistic future as the country is strangled by a slow and steady, terminal drought).   

Sénégal is the most democratic country in Africa: not only the country has been independent for longer than Kenya or Tanzania, but it has been continually ruled by universal suffrage. (By contrast, most other African countries were not only dictatorships, but nationalistic to the point of racism, racist (South Africa, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe) or theocratic (Egypt), monarchies, etc. )

So Sénégal is a democracy, in spite of being one the poorest countries. This shows that democracy and wealth are independent notions. One does not need to be well off to have the People in power. Democracy is not a luxury.

Sénégal is very poor, but also very smart in its own special ways. Some of these ways are on the forward edge of global civilization. For example Sénégal is less sexist in some ways than its ex-administrator, France. This shows that anti-sexism is not exclusive to Western civilization. This also shows that not having sexism is not a luxury.

Democracy and having no sexism are no luxury, because they are natural states of Homo Sapiens.  

Anti-sexism in the West originated from the Etruscans and the Germans. The Greeks and Romans, let alone the Jews (who originated the Abrahamist disease), were awful sexists.

France, a merger between Gaul, Rome and Germania (“Inferior“) pretty much invented a lot of anti-sexism: Merovingian queens could reign, and at least seven did as much as any king did (one of them outlawed slavery for the Franks, and everybody had been a Frank for a century). The Salic law allowed girls to inherit fully, just as a man, including the throne, as long as no brother was left (hey, Salic law was written 17 centuries ago).

By contrast in England, for another millennium, husbands appeared in court in the stead of their wives (however they were not roasted in their place).

While in France noble women studied more refined ways of handling inter-gender relationships in the “Courts d’ Amour” (that gave birth to “common courtesy”, as we know it), much of French culture, as the rawness of the Franks got diluted, returned to the old demons of Roman sexism (for five centuries from about 1320 CE to Napoleon’s infantile sexism, and grotesquely misogynistic  legislation).

Thus one sees that sexism has a long and complicated history in the West. In non sexist Crete, girls with very little clothing fought bulls, for a profession, but thirty centuries later, Jeanne d’Arc was condemned to burn alive, for having worn pants in jail (to avoid rape, she said). This shows that erroneous mental systems have huge inertia.

This also shows one of the interests of Black Africa. Differently from North Africa (which is fundamentally Western Eurasia, culturally and genetically), Black Africa is philosophically independent. Black Africa, by staying out of the convoluted history of the Middle Earth, was able to stick to a more fundamental philosophy, which, per its fundamental nature, is often more correct.

Sexism in the Middle Earth is very complex. But complexity is not veracity.

Until very recent times, not only Senegalese women did not cover their face, but, whenever working, or exercising, not much of their body either. Why? Well, why not? Ah, and a little detail: temperatures can reach 50 Celsius, 120 F in the interior.  

One can compare the Senegalese tradition of women dressed like the Olympic athletes of old, with that of the Middle East. There, traditionally, women have been turned into tents. Thus they are unable to go outside much, or to do any significant work there. Thus they stay inside, turning stupid… And not turning the children they bring up inside into the brightest bulbs, either. 

Sénégal has its own version of Islam. Something crucial about Senegalese Islam is that it is non sexist. In some ways, it was significantly less sexist than anything found in Europe or America (for example, women did not have to be more covered with more clothes than men).

Overall, Senegalese society is less sexist, because it worships less at the foot of the difference between genders. Or let me rephrase that; coming out of Sénégal, and watching the Euro-American circus of civilization pretense, I was struck by how much was contrived to increase differences. For example Western men are enticed, and train themselves, to avoid high pitch sounds. It’s something that is pretty obvious when one lives in West Africa.

Why that fear of having European men pass for women?  Is it because European men are supposed to be terrifying, and terrifyingly serious all the time? Is it because the roar of a low growl fills the inferior ones with dread? Thus, is the lack of high pitch related to empire?

Were African-American  musicians subversively undermining the Western empire by going high pitch occasionally? If Obama had exhibited early on his high pitch capability (which he discreetly showed to Mick Jagger recently), he would never have been elected president.

Indeed a few pop stars, since the 1960s, have neglected the interdiction against high pitch squeaking, and feminine voices. But certainly, many were not completely mesmerized by empire (and thus some were decorated by the empire to cover-up that fact).

In Sénégal, men have kept fuller voices, and are less afraid to pass for women (probably because, well, it’s hard to confuse a big strong Senegalese with a woman…). In Sénégal, the gender gap is viewed, in some important ways, as less important to society than in it is in Euro-America, and it is also viewed as something impoverishing society, because it puts both men and women, each, into their little box (and then Euro-Americans have all these rather comical gender identification problems).

A lot of contemporary music originated in West Africa, where the main instruments are obvious direct ancestors of those of jazz and rock.

Another important activity of Senegalese society is talking and debating. OK, at about 12 degrees of latitude, the most productive thing to do, mid-day, is to rest in the shade and talk. But talking is viewed as so important in West Africa that an entire caste specialized in it exists, the griots. Griots are in charge of talking, storytelling chanting, and no doubt incarnate the origin of what came to be known as rap.

Debating and talking was viewed as essential in a lot of European civilization at its most famous. This is another case of convergence between Sénégal and the best Europe ever offered.

So what is it about Senegalese Islam? Well one can put it in a rather striking way: Senegalese Islam is secular (!).

After hysterical laughter from those who do not know the meaning of some words die down, I will explain what secular means. “Secular” means living in one’s age. One can be to some extent superstitious, and secular, at the same time. Indeed, everybody is a bit of both. Even the most fanatical of fanatics has to live, to some extent, in his own time, be it only to be effective in his nastiness.

Thus Osama bin Laden studied civil engineering. (So one can see bin Laden was completely steeped in the world he had when he was three year: he believed thoroughly the superstition of his ancestors, he studied the knowledge of his father, an engineer, founder of the Binladen group.)

Senegalese Islam is viewed as “Sufi“. That means that Senegalese Islam has an important, even domineering, philosophical component.

The Wikipedia article on Sufism I linked to emphasizes the mystical character of some types of Sufism… as if Sunni Islam were not mystical; it is true that some forms of Sufism are very mystical… But it’s just the opposite in Sénégal. Senegalese Islam is a philosophical machine.

So what is the metaprinciple of Senegalese Islam?

One can put it this way: to inject into secularism the spirit that habitated Muhammad. So it’s not just about the Qur’an (which was written long after Muhammad’s death), nor is it about all what Muhammad was supposedly heard saying (Hadith), or supposedly seen doing (Suna). It’s about being inhabitated with the same spirit Muhammad had.

And what do we see in the spirit that habitated Muhammad? A strong will to change secularism by improving civilization along the lines of science and new possibilities. Thus in Senegalese Islam, wise religious figures can rise as high, or even higher than Muhammad himself… thanks to more knowledge and more possibilities.

That was the case of Amadou Bamba. After opposing (pacifically) a rather obtuse French administration (which deported him far away), this Senegalese holy man came to terms with it. Amadou Bamba understood that it was important to help France defeat racist Germanoid fascism. So him, a pacifist, help send an enormous number of  Tirailleurs Sénégalais. 200,000 saw combat in World War One, and 30,000 died, thanks in part to Amadou Bamba.

A few years ago, the Constitution of Senegal was changed to limit presidential mandates to two terms (as in France, itself following the lead, for once, of the USA). President Wade chose to interpret this as meaning that he could do a third term, as the change happened during his second term. The Senegalese were not amused, and demonstrated massively. Wade impressed on the Constitutional Court that his point of view was right. However, he was defeated by one of his own past Prime Ministers (initially an agronomic engineer), now president Macky Sall. One can compare with Russia, where Putin just said he envisioned to be president until 2024!

By American standards, massive demonstrations against the guys in power is too awful to contemplate, it’s not part of democracy as United States citizens are supposed to understand it. However, the Senegalese, just like the French, and, increasingly, other Europeans, view civil disobedience as a form of free speech. Yet, the Senegalese although friendly to great verbal energy, and even confrontation, are overall extremely pacific.

In general, there seems to be a complementary relationship between verbal violence, and real violence. And it’s understandable: verbal violence can address problems that, if left untouched, only physical violence can otherwise fix.

I was raised in Sénégal. Once after more than a decade, a taxi cab driver was assassinated. Something never heard before. It turned out that the assassins were two white French tourists!

There has been a secession war of sort in Casamance, in the equatorial south, separated from the rest of the country by (the English speaking country of) Gambia, religion, way of life (villages are full of black pigs). But the situation there is easily explained by the unfolding anthropogenic ecological disaster, some of which just arose from making roads through the giant mangrove forests, destroying them, with the teeming life they brought.  

Basically the problem with Casamance, or, in general, with the catastrophic turn of Senegalese ecology is too big for Senegal to solve alone. I was aghast when I saw recent photographs of entire regions that went from lush with towering trees, to moon like dried mud, from horizon to horizon.

In any case, let’s revert to the positive. How come is the  civilisation Sénégalaise so advanced? How does that fit with my Middle Earth centric view of the world? The Middle Earth is composed of the Indo-European ensemble plus North Africa and Arabia.

The Middle Earth centric view claims that the Middle Earth (in the middle of which is the Middle East) that most human inventions arose there, because the Middle Earth was the forum of the world. It is bordered to the west and north by the ocean, and to the east by the nearly completely impassable giant mountains of the Himalayas, Karakorum, Tien Shan, and their associated deserts.

Right now Black Africa is separated from the Middle Earth by the Sahara desert. But it was not always so. The Sahara was wonderfully wet at the very birth of Egyptian civilization. The Egyptians had to take refuge along the Nile and associated lakes, as the Sahara finally desiccated. That was about 7,000 years ago. But trade routes remained.

In the last 3,000 years, Carthage re-established the relationship between Middle Earth and Black Africa (so did Morocco later).

How come Europeans could not repeat in Africa what they did in the Americas? Steel. Africans had steel. Steel arrowheads would have been enough to stop Europeans. As a child, I saw some native hunters train with bow and arrow, and I was impressed. The penetration of arrows deep in solid tree trunks was astounding.

Africans had, have, developped their own steel technology. So who invented steel? It’s not clear. The Dorians showed up with it, and conquered Greece, thanks to it (killing all the men, causing a Dark Age). The Dorians came from the north, but I believe possible that steel technology actually arose in Black Africa first, and came to Greece in a circuituous route.

So was Sénégal part of the Middle Earth, in some ways? Of course.  First Senegalese, those the French were in contact with, had French citizenship, already in the seventeenth century (curiously, under the sectarian fanatic Louis XIV, probably desirous to make us believe he was not how he truly was). In the Nineteenth century, the French conquered all of Sénégal.

That meant that 5,000 Tirailleurs Sénégalais, armed with guns, led by ten French officers, yes, only ten, conquered all of Senegal, and beyond.

Senegal was thus created as a country. Senegal did not exist before that because it was actually made, at the time, of at least six different nations, each with its own language. These six “regional” languages are recognized officially: Wolof, Soninke, Serer, Fula, Maninka, Diola. (In a similar fashion, before Caear invaded gaul, three main languages were talked there… Latin became the new lingua franca, would I say, trying to be funy…).

The national language of Sénégal, of course, is French. One should not forget that France and Sénégal were long united. There were French Members of Parliament, or Senators, Senegalese born. Leopold Sedar Senghor,  Sénégal’s first president, was a prominent member of the French constituent assembly after World War Two. 

Senghor was a major French poet and philosopher. With other prominent French thinkers of non white skin, he thought one had to be proud of the word “niger” (the Latin for black). The fact that Americans think that “niger”, mispelled, is an insult means that the USA has not yet graduated out of racism 101. Senegalese make a lot of paintings where black dominates, it is unique, and extremely beautiful.

One can go back much earlier than the European period. Before the Europeans showed up on one ridiculously tiny volcanic island off the Senegal to trade slaves (and where I nearly got killed in an accident), Sénégal had, twenty century earlier, been in contact and trade with Carthage. Carthage, as a Phoenician colony, was fully a Euro-Mediterranean power. Although Rome hated and annihilated Carthage, Rome absorbed many of the Punic colony’s ways, from naval and agricultural engineering to other, more subtle moods.

Carthage got destroyed by Roman plutocrats, because they had come to fear its democracy. But the democratic ideal of that giant city survived (although those it inspired in Rome itself were destroyed in the next few generations, well, here we are, confronting the bankers and their ilk).

Civilization is not just about books, or even oral knowledge. It is also about moods. Long ago, may be as they traded with Carthage, and allowed Carthagenese to install a settlement, the Senegalese learned to be more open minded, and laugh about it. The West, and especially France, can do better than mildly forget about Sénégal, which incarnates so many of the good ways of the West, and sometimes does it better than the West can yet understand.


Patrice Ayme