Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lesson from Senegalese Street Artists

Le Senegalais mort pour la France

This phrase, painted on a wall near the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar Senegal speaks volumes of the historical and current realities of African people throughout the world, as well as the possibilities. It literally means the Senegalese die for France.

On African International (www.africaninternational.org), we've written extensively on the enslavement of African people, so i don't need to go into it here.  Suffice it to say, though that the historical arrangements and our experiences within them have put in motion a trajectory that has African people and land organized around serving the whites, Arabs, Indians (who historically have served as administrators on behalf of the whites) and increasingly the Chinese. Entire lives, entire generations have been made to live and die for whatever exploiter nation most recently laid claim to it as a colony or investment site.

That this sign was painted near a university suggests that someone, some groups even, are aware about the unjust way that Senegalese people are mistreated and the way that their lives are less valued than the French white exploiter nation. More broadly, this represents the potential of educated African youth - whether their education has been formal or informal. Education exposes young people to many ideas and realities.  Those with a heart for justice can use their training to deepen their understanding of how and why current arrangements are as they are.  And with their youthful passion and energy, they can set out to develop a plan and carry out solutions.

Solidarity Starts with the Soul

Commitment to fundamental change, loyalty to a group, devotion to a way of living begins first internally; within one's heart, within one's soul.   Before a person can genuinely and organically link up with others moving in the same or similar direction, she/he needs to first be pretty clear on her/his beliefs, commitment and what she/he will stand or not stand for.  This takes study, reflection and conviction. 

Solidarity with others is preceded by the knowledge in one's heart that the thing toward which you will direct your solidarity is important and necessary. And you are clear about the side of justice you are on.  And you are clear about whose interests you will serve. 

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