The "square of Europe" for the island of Gorée, in Senegal, will take a break soon its name for a long time a subject of controversy, to become the " square of Freedom and human Dignity ". A decision adopted unanimously on 27 July by the municipal council of the island, a symbol of the transatlantic slave trade. A tribute to George Floyd, this Afro-American who died as a result of police violence, racist may 25, 2020, as "a response to the wave of racial violence that the black community and the afro-descendant is a regular victim," says the mayor of Gorée, Augustin Senghor, in a press release.
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The strong symbolic of the island of Gorée
" This decision is not sudden, the reflection was ongoing for some time, particularly in the face of criticism since the appointment of the place of Europe in 2018. The death of George Floyd was the trigger, " explains Doudou Dia, director of the Gorée Institute, a pan-african organization of civil society, before recalling that this request had first been made by the associations of the island, the message is then carried by the community council composed of members of the civil society. "The death of George Floyd has sharpened the awareness of the people and has reactivated a long-standing issue, in the ex-colonies in particular. This was then reinforced by the confinement due to the pandemic, " said Doudou Diène, former special rapporteur of the UN on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Gorée, and its values of peace and reconciliation, was expected to "be at the forefront of the fight for the total eradication and definitive of all forms of racism, especially those directed against black people, according to its vocation of place of memory," relates Mr. Senghor.
A momentum for a long time
This change is part of a comprehensive approach. A scientific committee has been established to develop a guidance documentation on the development of the place. The statue of the " liberation from slavery ", which is currently located next to the house of Slaves, should reach the place of Freedom and human Dignity at its launch scheduled in coming months. "This committee is also responsible for the creation of a course a visit to memorial, with steps to address the issue of slavery and colonialism. The international centre for archive and documentation on slavery is also expected to open soon to the public, " informs Mr. Dia, president of the tourism commission of the island.
Goréen and a city councillor since 2014, Djibril Seck, the name change is that the genesis of other questions : "This should result in a change of mentality and ideology, in particular a reflection on our independence, on the neo-colonialism. "The man would like to see one of the streets of the island, including 90 % of the names come from names of european settlers, is famous by the name of" Boubacar Joseph Ndiaye, " the former conservative extremely famous from the house of Slaves. But for the mayor, these transformations do not take place to be in this island-memory, a world heritage site of the Unesco since 1978. For the elected, the marks, the scars of colonization and the slave trade, allow us to remember the past and not to forget the History.
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as a Former capital of Senegal, Saint-Louis is also very involved
In St. Louis, the former capital of Africa-French West from 1854 to 1865, the controversy mainly relates to the statue of general Louis Faidherbe, former governor of the city. For a hundred years, his statue stands right on the square of the same name and unleashes the passions. The blogger saint-louisien Thierno Dicko, one of the first to have its déboulonnement ten years ago, sees in this statue a " symbol of domination and the alienation of the people of senegal ". It calls for its replacement by a local figure, in the image of Lat Dior or Ndaté Yalla Mbodj, a hero of the resistance against the settlers. "All the uprisings began, first by the demolition of the icons and dominant symbols of a civilization. The appropriation of street names and statues erected are expressions of the dominant power of the settlers. Previously, they took care to destroy the masks and statues, african, arguing that it was not of the art, to change the identity of the colonized, to change their perception and thus establish their domination, " notes Mr. Diene.
The inscription, "To his governor, Louis Faidherbe, Senegal grateful" is particularly wince those who wish to its déboulonnage. "Faidherbe is responsible for the massacre of thousands of our ancestors ", says Thierno Dicko, pointing the finger at the lack of knowledge of this part of the Story by the Senegalese. Dakar, Denise of Erneville asks : "Is this that debunk this statue is going to solve our problems latent ? Debunk to debunk to have no meaning. It is not to do mimicry. The debate is passionate, but a reflection is necessary. They are also markers of our History, we can't reject it ", she says.
the mayor of Saint-Louis, Mansour Faye, "the priority is to keep the History and development of the city, not to spend too many words on a debate without interests," he said during a ceremony, emphasizing the importance of " assume our responsibility and our colonial heritage ". "A lot of african countries have not questioned their own History, including the regimes néocoloniaux who did not want to engage in this way. The writing of a common History, multicultural revisits the common heritage is essential. This is fundamental especially as the links, and therefore a shared memory, between colonizers and ex-colonies are real.
The diaspora in question
The strong african diaspora is marked by the silence on the parts of its History and can be found to fight against the stigma she has suffered, the result of this history is partial, " explains Doudou Diene. Historians recognized, philosophers, members of civil society, some religious also, continue to claim the déboulonnage of the statue, now kept in a museum during the duration of the construction of the Faidherbe square. Thierno Dicko has already warned : "If the statue found its location, it will end up in the river ! "
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