Should Senegal celebrate the 63rd Fete de L’Independance?

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A general view of the submerged tourism businesses at the Pink Lake (Lac Rose), officially known as Lake Retba, after extreme floods washed away salt mounts and contaminated the lake and turned its famous waters from pink to green, in Niaga, near Dakar, Senegal, January 17, 2023. REUTERS

Commentary By: Alfsoninke 

It is our view that Senegal has no “independence” to speak of, and certainly no cause to celebrate!

To begin with, history tells us that unlike former colonies like Guinea Bissau, Angola, Mozambique, and Algeria among Pothers, which fought for it, Senegal was handed “independence” on a silver platter.

So one wonders why all the noise in Dakar about participation in a celebration of the 63rd independence anniversary.

Especially, when this year’s celebration is being held under a police state atmosphere, which draws the spotlight on Senegal’s immature democracy.

Senegal’s Defile militaire du 04 Avril, after a three-year hiatus due to the Covid, has returned this year as a show of militarism – defined as “belief that a country should have great military strength in order to be powerful” (OED).

Honestly, this was the case in recent pre-Covid “defiles”, and perhaps it would be more appropriate to dub the occasion the Armed Forces Day parades in Senegal.

President Macky Sall made prominent mentions of the country’s defense and security forces in his address to the nation on independence eve, as well as in his short speech at the April 4 parade; which again clearly shows it is definitely meant to be a “fete” for them.

So, what Senegal now celebrates annually is militarism and the increasing expansion of the country’s arsenal for mass control and repression.

Thus, the objective of the annual parade is to display its latest military hardware and to enable the soldiers show off, as a way to keep the soldiers happy.

It is also designed as a show of military might, and an overt warning to Senegal’s immediate neighbours and others in the region.

All this is happening at a time in Senegal when there is a worrying police state atmosphere, which spotlights the country as still an immature democracy.

The security forces parade was meant as a show of force to put fear in the country’s population – now increasingly disillusioned about the country’s reportedly thieving and parasitic ruling elite.

One recalls that in recent years the current government in Dakar has been increasingly arming the Senegalese armed and security forces generally – and, the April 4 parade provides an opportunity to put on public display some of its newest acquisition for its arsenal – but one must ask: to fight who/what enemy?

Senegalese tv recently showed the country’s defense minister inspecting a new military jet acquired by the country’s air force.

In Gambia, we saw the former government focus on acquiring new weapons for the armed forces – including boasting of having fearsome toys in its military arsenal! Was this a deterrence measure?

What happened under the present government and the new armed forces High Command to the rumored superior weaponry we possessed?

Indeed, this writer and Gambians can recall the acquisition of a military jet which during one “independence celebration” at the Independence Stadium in Bakau – with foreign guests in attendance – engaged in frighteningly deafening display sorties.

This was the former government’s way of showing the Senegalese that Gambia would not be left behind in the sub-regional arms race.

Definitely, it is our belief that in Senegal, the ongoing arming to the teeth of its military is not to prepare to fight any war or potential war – but to serve as the neighborhood gendarme, including keeping a close eye on small Gambia and Guinea Bissau – which rely on Senegal to maintain internal stability.

In addition, one could suspect our neo-colonial masters of helping arm the Senegalese state to enable it effectively play the role of a fifth column for the West in Africa.

Senegal is one of the valued geo-strategic outposts of the West in its scheming to maintain its global geopolitical hegemony.

With Senegal reported to start exporting oil and gas in 2024, this also n to its geo-strategic position in Africa anu makes it a more valuable asset, especially in the current volatile global economic situation.

And, for this reason, Senegal is one of the most closely watched territories in Africa – including from cyber space – by our neo-colonial masters.

What you see happening in Senegal today are manufactured crises; and the West – as it has done since 1960 when Senegal became “independent” – will continue to ensure that Senegalese dances to its tune.

So, when commentators on Senegalese media cite the justification that there is increasing “terrorist” activity in the Sahel, as one reason to boost their military arsenal, do not let such talki distract you.

For actually, Senegal is being equipped – and the Senegalese elite is complicit – to play its part in projecting, maintaining and protecting the interests of our neo-colonial masters in Africa.
That is the hard fact!

Indeed, the money budgeted annually for maintaining the Senegalese armed and security forces could go into addressing the urgent needs of the masses such as food security and better social services in the poor African country.

For example, in Tanzania the country’s new President cancelled the last “independence celebration”, and then announced that the money would be used to improve the social services in the country.

Yet what you see in Senegal these days is evidence of a state which has got it priorities wrong. Unfortunately, this sad state of affairs is the norm in Africa.

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