Africa

Senegal: Historian decries long shadows of colonialism

French colonial remnants still active in Senegal, said prominent historian of West African nation

Munira Abdelmenan Awel   | 20.06.2018
Senegal: Historian decries long shadows of colonialism

ANKARA

It is shameful to see the largest streets of the West African country of Senegal bearing the names of colonial French soldiers, according to a prominent local historian.

"It is an embarrassment that the main streets of big cities carry the names of French army commanders who opposed Senegalese clerics and independence fighters,” said Iba Der Thiam, 81, a former education minister, in a press release on Tuesday.

“We know that Commander [Louis] Faidherbe, who gave the name to Dakar's biggest street today, killed 20,000 people in eight months.”

He added: "Since independence, we have been fighting for the removal of these colonial symbols and influence, but with little success. While I was at the Education Ministry, we tried to change the name of schools with colonial names but the orders from higher officials were not the same," he added.

Thiam said remnants of the colonial system can still be seen in schools, decrying the gap between the upper class and the community, adding that the education system is still in the hands of the French.


‘Elites who want Senegal to be part of France’

"When I look at some gatherings, I see elites who still want Senegal to be a province of France. This is a sad situation. Our only hope is the new generation that stands against such situations, like the youth who protested against the French president, Emmanuel Macron, when he went to Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso," he explained.

Stressing that Senegal's history should be rewritten by the Senegalese, using authentic sources, he added that without doing this, they will not be able to shake off "colonialist France."

Thiam said that in the country’s official history, figures who fought against colonialism such as Maba Diakhouba and Sheikh Ahmadu Bamba are not portrayed as a "national heroes" to the extent they deserve, whereas colonists are still painted as heroes.

Senegal gained independence from France on April 4, 1960.

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