I greet you my friends and family from Dakar, Senegal where I addressed a conference called Sports Africa. My topics were about school and university sport policy and how it fits into the national policy space and the impact of major events on a country. So, Senegal I hear you say. Well let’s look where it is situated.
So let’s take a look at some fun facts about Senegal : ( this is from the internet with my own notes).
- The official name of the country is Republic of Senegal.
- It is bordered by Mauritania in the North, Mali to the East, Guinea to the Southeast, and Guinea-Bissua to the southwest. Senegal also borders The Gambia, a country occupying a narrow stretch of land along the banks of The Gambia river, which separates Senegal’s Southern region of Casamance from the rest of the country.
- The official language is French. This was my first time in a Francophone country. Conversations were tough but at the guesthouse I stayed at the guy at reception said wait… Then went to Google and set up a translation service. He typed in French which then translated to English immediately. I then typed my response in English which was then translated to French. By the way you also get Lusophone countries (Portuguese), Arabphone (North Africa) and Anglophone of course which is all the English-speaking countries.
- As at January 2017 the population of Senegal is about 15.8 million people.
- It is the 86th largest country in the world.
- Dakar is the capital and largest city of Senegal. it is located on the Cap- Vert peninsula on the Atlantic coast and is the westernmost city in the Old World as well as on the African mainland.
- Much of Senegal is covered in rolling, sandy plains courtesy of the Western Sagel- a transition zone between the Sahara Desert and the the Sudanian Savannas.
- Senegal has 531 kilometres of coastline. The best beaches in Senegal are found in Cap Skirring and Dakar.
- Buildings are going up all over the place. Most of the population appear to live in apartments with shops at the bottom at the street level and the apartments then built on the top. The roofs are all used for washing lines and other activities. So, the roof is accessible to the people.
- The Island of Goree lies off the coast of Senegal opposite Dakar. From the 15th to the 19th century, it was the largest slave trading centre on the African coast. Ruled in succession by the Portuguese, Dutch, English and French, its architecture is characterised by the contrast between the grim slave quarters and the elegant houses of the slave traders. Today it continues to serve as a reminder of human exploitation and as a sanctuary for reconciliation. The Island has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since September 1978. The House of Slaves and the Door of No Return are also reminders of the slave trade.
- The African Renaissance Monument is a 49-meter-tall bronze statue located on top of one of the twin hills known as the Collines des Mamellles, outside Dakar. It is the tallest statue in Africa.
- Archaeological findings throughout the area indicate that Senegal was inhabited in prehistoric times and has been continuously occupied by various ethnic groups.
- Senegal gained independence from France in 1960 and remains the only West African country never to have experienced a military coup.
- Predominantly rural, and with limited natural resources, the economy of Senegal gains most of its foreign exchange from fish, phosphates, groundnuts, tourism and services.
15. Senegal owes its name to the Senegal River which
borders it to the East and North. Senegal
comes from the language Wolof” Sunuu Gaal” which means ” our Boat”.
- Senegal is a secular state. Islam is the predominant religion in the country, practised by over ninety percent of the country. The rest of the country is Roman Catholic.
- Wrestling is Senegal’s most popular sport and is closely followed by football and basketball. For those who follow Liverpool – Sadio Mane is from Senegal.
- The country hosted the Paris – Dakar rally from 1979 until 2007. The event was cancelled due to security concerns in Mauritania. It said that wrestling is the main sport followed by football and basketball.
- In the17th and 18th century, Senegal, was known for slaves, Ivory and gold.
- In Senegal, taxis have tails, the artificial tail is made of goat of sheep hair and is meant to bring good luck! I must say that there seems to be a perpetual traffic jam here. The roads are always clogged. The rules of the road seem to be that you drive quickly, wave and hoot and take the gap. I took to sitting in the middle of the back seat just to avoid any issues you know!
- Sheep is very important in Senegal because sheep is used as a sacrifice on important religious days. (It is said that the most popular TV show in Senegal is Khar Bii which is a show about sheep!)
Senegal and South Africa
- In July 1987 one of the most important meetings about South Africa took place in Dakar, Senegal. The meeting was between the African National Congress (ANC) and a group of South Africans that wanted to meet the leadership of the ANC and have a dialogue.
- The Dakar Conference was a historic conference between members of the Institute for Democratic Alternatives in South Africa (IDASA) and the ANC. It was held between 9-12 July 1987. The conference discussed topics such as strategies for bringing fundamental change in South Africa, national unity, structures of government and the future economy in a free South Africa. The IDASA delegation participated in their private capacity and would later be condemned by the South African government for meeting a banned organisation. The future indirect result of the conference was the SA government talks with Nelson Mandela and the eventual meeting with PW Botha.
- The participants included the following persons :
Thabo Mbeki ( later President of South Africa)
- The South African delegation totalled 47 : Frederick Van Zyl Slabbert
Breyton Breytenbach ( poet and former political prisoner) Tommy Bedford ( Springbok rugby captain)
Professor Jakes Gerwel ( UWC ) Professor Jaap Du Randt ( UWC) Professor Andre Odendaal ( UWC ) Rev Beyers Naude ( religious leader)
Professor Herman Giliomee ( University of Stellenbosch) Professor Franklin Sonn ( Pentech)
Professor Andre P Brink ( writer)
Professor Lourens Du Plessis ( University of Potchefstroom)
Professor Andre Du Toit ( political scientist at the University of Stellenbosch) Abraham Viljoen (brother of General Constant Viljoen)
Leon Louw ( director of the Free Market Foundation) Lawrence Schlemmer
Theuns Eloff ( religious leader) Riaan De Villiers
Revel Fox ( architect) Grethe Fox ( actress)
Randall Van Der Heever ( school principal ) Manie Van Rensburg ( film director ) Hardy Botha
Coetzee Pierre Cronje Maresa De Beer Trudi De Ridder Braam Du Plessis Max Du
Preez Adrian Enthoven Gerhard Erasmus Jannie Gagiano Peter Gastrow
Johan Van Der Westhuizen
Willem Van Vuuren
- At the conclusion of the conference, a declaration was released by the participants stating that a negotiated settlement in South Africa was preferred and that the main obstacle was the South African government’s unwillingness to negotiate and the delegates concern about the level of uncontrolled violence in South Africa. A ferry trip was then organised to the Goree Island and visit to the Maison Des Esclaves (House of Slaves) and its museum in remembrance to the Dutch slave trade in West Africa.
- A photographer Rashid Lombard and Professor Andre Odendaal kindly allowed these rare photos enclosed to be used. I thank them.
Credit: Rashid Lombard Photo ©
backdrop of mounting violence and repression, Dr Frederik van Zyl Slabbert and
Dr Alex Boraine made their decision in 1986 to resign as members of the SA
Parliament. They then formed the Institute for a Democratic Alternative for
South Africa or IDASA. In July 1987, van Zyl Slabbert led a group of 61
Afrikaans-speaking South Africans (academics, businessman, artists and writers)
to the Dakar Conference in Senegal, where several days were spent in discussion
with 17 ANC-in-exile representatives. This meeting resulted in the historic
Left to Right standing: Prof Andre Odendaal, Prof Ampie Coetzee
Left to right seated: Prof Jaap du Randt , Dr Frederik van Zyl Slabbert, Thabo Mbeki, Prof Jakes Gerwel
Delegates (ANC & Afrikaners) return by ferry from
a tour on Gorée Island or The House of Slaves said to memorialise the final
exit point of the slaves from Africa to the America’s. John Mattison
(journalist), Lawrence Schlemmer, Maresa de Beer, Andre Brink amongst the
delegates. July 1987
Left to right : Dr Beyer’s Naude, with Van Zyl Slabbert, Chairperson of IDASA in discussion and Prof Theo Hanf during the “Dakar Talks”, Senegal July 1987
- The Sports Africa Conference took place at the University of Cheikh Ante Diop. The department of History is organising the event. The physical venue is the West African research Centre. The University of Ohio hosted the first conference in 2004. During the last 12 editions of this conference, between 2004 and 2017, specialists, scholars and practitioners from Africa, the Americas and Europe addressed themes such as Youth, Gender, Health, Communication, Development, Politics, Globalisation, Subalternities and Social Justice and Physical Education. Building on the goals of the Sports Africa network, the History Department of the University in Dakar and Sports Africa in partnership with the Consortium for Research and Social Economy (Cres), The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice of the University of Free State and the Centre for international Studies at Ohio University hosted this 13th edition of the Conference in Dakar, Senegal with the theme : Popular Sports, Mass Sports and Elite Sports in Everyday Africa.
- Scholars from across the world have gathered here in Dakar, Senegal and in the different plenary and breakaway groups addressed matters such as sport and history, sport facing cohesion or national and community rivalries, and many other topics.
- I submitted two abstracts which I presented. The first one was the role of school and university sport and their role in national policies. I reflected on the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the National Department of Basic Education and Sport and Recreation South Africa in May 2018 in Parliament in Cape Town. I also placed the policies of schools and university within the context of the National Sport and Recreation Plan.
- The second presentation examined the Impact of Mega Events on a Country. I used the 2010 FIFA World Cup as a Case Study and demonstrated that I believed that the hosting of mega events
can serve many aims which inter alia, include national building, a catalyst for economic growth, and the expedited upgrading of infrastructure that must take place. Senegal is hosting the 2022 Youth Olympics, so they have a big interest in this topic. The topic received many questions from the audience. An American Professor asked me directly what the challenges and negatives of the World Cup were. I responded that I believed that government must do things like building stadia for the public good and many areas in South Africa now have stadia that can host matches. A negative however, is of course the usage of stadia across the country. This is something that must be looked at, but international practice has shown that a stadium takes about twenty-five years to break even.
- I will be publishing the presentations in article form later this year.
- There were different presentations and I tried to attend as many as possible
A number of South Africans also presented here. I attended the following presentations that have a direct bearing on South Africa –
- Knuckling under apartheid : the 1961 AAU Tour to South Africa and the Politics of Race in American Track and Field by Derek Catsam from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin
- The Liberation movement and the geopolitics of sports in Apartheid South Africa by Sifiso Ndlovu from the University of South Africa and Sadet.
- The New Historiography of Southern African Football by Professor Peter Alegi from Michigan State University, USA
- School and University Sport and their role in National Policies through the Social Critical Theory Lens by Addmore Hapanyengwi from the University of Witwatersrand
- Bafana , the boys White (South African footballers) ” Reverse ” Transformation, and Recolonizing the Pitch by Keegan Medrano from San Francisco State University
- Status Buying in South African football : A Thorn or a Rose ? By Sam Masinga , University of the Free State
- Shaping community based bodybuilders : David Isaacs and others by Dr Francois Cleophas from the University of Stellenbosch
Dr Francois Cleophas with Dr Lyndon Bouah
- If anything, go see America : South African football players, the North American Soccer league and apartheid by Dr Chris Bolsmann from the California State University, Northridge
- An Uphill Climb – Women on Table Mountain at the Cape , South Africa, 1890’s to 1990’s by Farieda Khan who is an independent researcher from Cape Town
I enjoyed the presentations and made me rethink about certain of the critical issues raised by the speakers. I will in a separate academic report write about the conference.
- On Tuesday 18 June 2019 I visited Goree Island. I travelled by taxi to the harbour. The taxi was 2500 West African francs which is the equivalent of about R62. Once there I proceeded to the ferry which took us to Goree Island. It is the equivalent of Robben Island and is also twenty minutes by ferry. I bought a book on the Island and the introduction is touching. It is called Goree Island by the Historical Museum. Let’s see what it says;
“Goree is an evocation of the tragic period of the slave trade and the charm of an epoch rich in colour and history. The island enters European history around the middle of the 15th century with the arrival of the Portuguese who made a stopover while en route to the East. They called it Palm Island. As a port of call it was abandoned by the Portuguese for internal political reasons but frequented by trading boats of various European nationalities.
The Dutch were not slow to discover the pleasures of the Island, which they dubbed as Goe – Ree (Good Harbour) and bought if for a few iron nails in 1627. They settled and built two forts in order to protect their commerce, mainly slave trading, which was needed to exploit their possessions in the West Indies. From then on, Goree’s fate, having become a warehouse for slaves and merchandise, was linked to that of the European trading companies. It was coveted as a trading post by the French who seized it in 1677.
In the 18th century, a period during which the slave trade was at its peak, the French and the British fought over possession of the island until the beginning of the 19th century, when the English lost all interest in Goree after the abolition of slavery.
In the first half of the 19th century, after a suppression of the odious trade which had scored its wealth, Goree became the headquarters of the naval division responsible for repressing clandestine slave trade. The rapid economic development allowed the construction of a town with houses, schools directed by missionaries and above all gave a particular status to the island which became a commune having the same rights and duties as a commune in France.”
- Once I proceeded off the boat, I made my way to the right. A wall had been created with the names of all the famous visitors and I found the name of our former beloved president Nelson Mandela who visited Goree on 25 November 1991. It is inscribed as Pilgrim of Memory for Peace.
- I then paid a visit to the IFAN Cheikh Anta Diop Museum. A nice little museum that illustrated the daily lives of the people of Senegal including Goree but all the inscriptions were in French! Alas my French is limited to Merci, bon Voyage and bon Appetit!
- I then went to the Fort that I saw upon arrival. Fort d ‘ Estrees was initially called the North Battery before taking the name of the Vice Admiral Jean D’ Estrees. The first was built at the beginning of the Second Empire, between 1852 and 1856, according to the plans of the Engineering Captain Pinet- Laprade, the future governor of Senegal.
- The Northern Battery appears as a circular fortification, its facade encircled by a moat, with the portal accessible by way of a drawbridge. Four blockhouses constitute the flanks of the battery. The blockhouses are used now as exhibition rooms chronicling the history of Senegal and Goree island.
- It was now time for the visit that drew me to Goree Island. I then meandered my way down to the other side of the Island. The Island is dotted with rich looking mansions that has seen better days which constituted the homes of the slave owners as opposed to the slave quarters.
- I then made my way down the rue Saint Germain where you arrive at the junction of the rue Malavois. The house is in the form of a ship, with two superimposed arcades galleries, built in 1771 by Victoria Albis. In 1873 it housed the judicial court and the following year the civilian prison, installed in the dungeons of the basement where, before the abolition of slavery, the slaves were kept.
- On the other side of rue Saint Germain next to a tropical garden is drawn up a statue symbolising liberation from slavery before I arrived at the Maison Des Esclaves (House of Slaves).
Statue symbolising liberation from slavery
- The Slave House was built around 1786. I entered through the door and arrived in the courtyard. A guide took three of us around. He showed us the first cell where the male slaves were kept. Twenty slaves at a time were kept in chains in a very small area. Next to them were the cells for women and children. One cell was reserved for slaves who were not looking fit enough and they were then given extra rations to get them a bit bulkier.
- One cell was called the Cellule Des Recalcitrants which was a small cell that was used to house slaves that were difficult and didn’t want to be slaves. The guide informed us that when former president Nelson Mandela visited the Slave House he stayed there for ten minutes and came out
- The next block of cells were the ones used before you got onto the ship. The slaves would then be brought closer to the harbour. The final door that I am standing at is known as the Door of No Return. When you left through here you would never see Africa again.
the Door of No Return
46. I bought a book by the late Guy Thilmas called
Facts about Slavery. Let’s see what he says:
The European slave trade began in 1441, when for the first time Africans captured by Portuguese sailors were landed in the port of Lagos to be sold as slaves. A slave business was then set up between the Iberian Peninsula and the islands off the coast of Africa. It was only after the discovery of America in 1492 that the slave trade began in earnest. The slave trade between the African coast and the new world began in the first decade of the 16th century.
During the 16th century, the Portuguese were practically the only Europeans in the slave trade. In the next century, the French, English and the Dutch joined the trade and there followed an increasing number of transactions. After the abolition of slavery in England in 1807, an illegal trade continued well into the middle of the 19th century.
The European slave trade lasted over four centuries, reaching its peak in the 18th and 19th century. Apart from the above-mentioned European countries, the Danes, Swedes, the Brandeburgs from Germany, the people from Curland (now Latvia) Ostend (Belgium) and the Spaniards also joined, albeit to a lesser extent.
It is estimated that between 8- 10 million slaves were sold in the new world.
- Thilmas noted that on most slave ships, crossing the Atlantic was part of a complex process
involving three continents, hence the name triangular trade. The slave ship would be leave Europe loaded with merchandise. On reaching the coast of Africa, the goods were exchanged for slaves, who were transported to America. The ship then returned to Europe with goods produced in America thanks to slave labour (sugar, cotton. Coffee, tobacco, indigo etc). In the 18th century, the largest slave trading ports in Europe were Liverpool, Bristol, Nantes, and Le Havre in a France, Middelburg and Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
- It was truly an emotional experience. I was left wondering about our own history of slavery. We don’t talk about it much. We don’t talk about the fact that many of our families and communities
have names that bear the months in which their forefathers were set free because we didn’t have surnames back then. Have we sufficiently analysed our own slave history in South Africa? My mother once told me that one of her great grandmothers came as a slave from St Helena. I don’t know about that history so I can’t verify that. Goree Island is an experience that confronted me with my own slave heritage.
- I left the House of Slaves and returned to the ferry. At the harbour also waiting for the ferry was former South African Chris Bolsmann who presented a paper at the conference. His paper looked at the number of South Africans that played Major league football in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Guys like Jomo Sono and Kaizer Motaung were discussed.
- I then upon the recommendation of Prof Bolsmann visited the Museum of Black Civilizations which was about a kilometre from the harbour. An impressive building it was opened in December 2018. It was built with the help of the Chinese who provided about $34 million. According to the internet a little over half a century ago, Leopoldo Sedar Senghor, the first president of post-independence Senegal, announced his plans to build a major museum of African culture in Dakar, Senegal. In November 2018 President Macron of France accepted a report that artworks must be repatriated to their countries of origin if they were taken without consent during the colonial era.
- Upon entry I was greeted with a huge banner that read : African Civilization : Continuous Creation of Humanity
The museum of Black Civilizations ( MCN) was born from the 1966 Black World Festival of Dakar, itself preceded by the Congress of Black Writers and artists of Paris, 1956 and Rome, 1959; the wave of African independences in the 1960 and later wars of liberation up to the 1990’s. All these echoed the Pan African conferences of London 1900, the congress of Paris, 1919, Dar Es Salaam, 1974, Kampala, 1994 and Accra, 2014.
The architecture of the museum is a total area of 14 000 square meters on four floors and an architectural inspiration from the Impluvium of the Casamance region of Senegal the Great Zimbabwe.
The inaugural exhibition titled African Civilization: Continous Creation of Hunaity builds on the four
floors organising the sequences in four themes: The Cradle of Humanity, Continental African Civilizations, Globalization of Blackness and Now Africa.
African Civilizations: Continuous Creation of Humanity is a combination of similarities and differences sketching a framework within which to understand the articulations at work in the long journey of Africa’s creation of humanity from the Tourmai to the Homo Sapiens. These articulations are connections that make a unity of different elements in a not necessarily determined, absolute and essential process for a time; but one in which what matters is a linkage between articulated discoursed and the social forces with which it can be connected.
- The atrium of the exhibition was the first stop and I was glad to see Florisbad and Rising Star, South Africa. Skulls found in that area had been carbon dated to about -235 000 years ago. They
showcased via video the skull Homo Naledi found in the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star Cave system. They also showed the Australopithecus Africanus Enfant De Taung found in Kimberley.
- A map of Africa showing the evolution of mankind shows various areas of South Africa, including Blombos Cave and other well-known areas
- I was also intrigued with the videos and map showing Rock Art found all over Africa. they have examples from all corners of Africa and ask the key question ” is Africa’s rock art -religion, spirituality or ritual? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know that you can find rock art in a number of places in South Africa.
55. A wall is dedicated to all the revolutionary
fathers of Africa and the wider black Diaspora. It was
good to see Mr. Nelson Mandela there on the wall together with many other luminaries.
- There were also two paintings by the South African painter Nathaniel Mokgosi exhibited in the exhibition. He is a South African artist and was marvellous to see his work there. There are also pieces by Cuban artist Elio Rodriguez and South Africa’s Andries Botha.
Nathaniel Mokgosi work
- An interesting theme was the one about Africa needing to Deberlinise. This of course refers to the 1884 Congress of Berlin where the European powers carved up Africa.
- A separate wall had black women and the production of knowledge. It stated that Black women have been significant and visible contributors to the formation, establishment and advancement of African societies on the continent and all over the world. They have participated in anticolonial struggles as trade unionists, political leaders, and organisers of the highest levels. They have fought in liberation movements side by side with men as strategists and taken leadership in battle when necessary.
- The last aspects of the museum looked at the importance of masks in various black societies across the world. It also highlighted textiles and the importance of textiles throughout the ages. The mask is a very important part of culture and is found through the world.
- I had not known about the museum previously. A magnificent building and idea. it has very little English translations of the text. Perhaps we should request that the texts also be made available in English but a very important museum.
the Museum of Black Civilizations
- Ernesto RamiRamirez,istant director general for culture at Unesco said during the museums opening ceremony ” it is also an important step towards the realisation of an Africa with a strong cultural heritage, values and ethics.”
- On Wednesday 19 June 2019, I visited the African Renaissance Monument. It is a 49-meter-tall bronze statue located on top of one if the twin hills known as Collines des Mamelles, outside Dakar, Senegal. Built overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in the Ouakan suburb, the statue was designed by the Senagelese architect Pierre Goudiaby after an idea presented by President Wade and built by Mansudae Overseas Projects, a company from North Korea. Site preparation began in 2006 and construction of the bronze statue began on 3 April 2008. It was formally declared open on 3 April 2010 coinciding with the National Day of Senegal when it declared independence from France in 1960. It is said to be the tallest statue in Africa.
- At 49m in height it is taller than the Statue of Liberty and Rio De Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue.
- I had to first stand in wonder at the statue. I then proceeded to the entrance where I paid my entry fee.
- Within the walls of the statue there are various exhibitions. In the first roomy guide explained the significance of the statue and also indicated that the wood came from Angola.
- They then showed us some paintings depicting Martin Luther King (I have a dream) then a slave at Goree Island and then Barack Obama (Yes we can)!
Martin Luther King and Barack Obama
- We then went to different rooms where the guide showed where the president met people and also showcased the fact that everything in the room came from a different country on the continent!
- A slave exhibition was also shown on one of the floors. It depicts the slaves in various different postures. The slave history is important to Senegal and Africa generally.
- A lift then transported us up to the top. The lift then stops on the head of the man. You then have a few minutes to take in the sights of Dakar. I took a shot of the head of the woman pictured in the statue also showcasing the surrounding areas of Dakar.
- The exhibition on the ground floor intrigued me. They had the founders of Nepad highlighted. It was great to see Thabo Mbeki, Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko and Chaka Zulu (as it is written) also represented in the foyer of African leaders and resistance fighters over the centuries.
- Mahatma Gandhi is also highlighted with a bust. One tends to forget that he spent a long time in South Africa where he developed the principles of non-violence and passive resistance.
- Many of the ideas that are captured in the statues and museums from part of the greater theory of Negritude. Wikipeadia explains it as follows: Negritude is a framework of critique and literary theory, developed mainly by francophone intellectuals, writers, and politicians of the African diaspora during the 1930’s, aimed at raising and cultivating ” Black consciousness” across Africa and its diaspora. Negritude was founded by Martinique poet Aime Cesaire, Leopoldo Sedar Senghor (the first president of Senegal) and Leon Damas of the French Guyana. Negritude intellectuals disavowed colonialism and argued for the importance of a Pan African sense of being among people of African descent worldwide.
- The monument highlights the champions of Nepad. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) is an economic development programme of the African Union. Nepad was adopted at the 37th session of the Assembly of Heads of State in July 2001 in Lusaka, Zambia. Nepad aimed to provide an overarching vision for accelerating economic co-operation and integration among African countries.
- Many of what I have seen resonates with me. I am clear in my identity that I am an African. I have travelled throughout Africa in the last twenty-five years and I have been welcomed whether it was Namibia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Kenya, Botswana, Nigeria, Egypt, Zambia, Uganda, Mauritius or Senegal. I do believe that we as Africans should work closer together to forge a strong Africa.
- I have enjoyed this conference. It has given me an opportunity to educate myself on what the world is thinking academically in certain areas. I have also met new persons and certainly gained new knowledge. The costs that I and my family personally carried has been worth it. Senegal has taught me a few things. Thank You Senegal!
- Senegal thinks big and they celebrate the achievements of us as Africans. They celebrate their modern heroes like Sadio Mane who plays for Liverpool. They celebrate poets, writers and persons from across the continent and diaspora.
- They want to develop a Pan African unity and strength. I can work towards that as well.
- It is apt I believe to end off with our former president Thabo Mbeki : I am An African
I am an African. I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers
- the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever changing seasons that define the face of our native land.
My body has frozen in our frosts and in our latter- day snows. It has thawed in the warmth of our sunshine and melted in the heat of the midday sun. The crack and the rumble of the summer thunders, lashed by startling lightning, have been a cause both of trembling and of hope.
The fragrances of nature have been as pleasant to us as the sight of the wild blooms of the citizens of the veld.
The dramatic shapes of the Drakensberg, the soil coloured waters of the the Lekoa, IGqili No Thukela
- and the sands of the Kgalagadi, have all been panels of the set on the natural stage on which we act out the folkish deeds of the theatre of the day.
At times, and in fear, I have wondered whether I should concede equal citizenship of our country to the leopard and the lion, the elephant and the springbok, the hyena, the black mamba and the pestilential mosquito.
A human presence among all of these, a feature on the face of our native land thus defined, I know that none dare challenge me when I say – I am an African!
I owe my being to the Khoi and the San whose desolate souls haunt the great expanses of the beautiful Cape- they who fell victim to the most merciless genocide of our native land has ever seen, they who were the first to lose their lives in the struggle to defend our freedom and independence and they who, as a people, perished in the result.
Today, as a country, we keep an inaudible and audible
silence about these ancestors of the generations that live, fearful to admit
the horror of a former deed, seeking to obligate from our memories a cruel
occurrence which, in its remembering, should teach us not to and never to be
I am formed by the migrants who left Europe to find a new home on our native land. Whatever their own actions, they still remain part of me.
In my veins courses the blood of the Malay slaves who came from the East. Their proud dignity informs my bearing, their culture a part of my essence. The stripes they bore on their bodies from the lash of the save master are a reminder embossed on my consciousness of what should not be done.
I am the grandchild of the warrior men and and women that Hintsa and Sekhukhune led, the patriots that Cetshwayo and Mphephu took to battle, the soldiers Moshoeshoe and Ngungunyane taught never to dishonour the cause of freedom.
My mind and my knowledge are formed by the victories that are jewels in our African crown, the victories we earned from Isandhlwana to Khartoum, as Ethiopians and as Ashanti of Ghana, as Berbers of the desert.
I am the grandchild who lays fresh flowers on the Boer graves at St Helena, the Bahamas, and the Vrouemonument, who sees in the mind’s eye and suffers the suffering of a simple peasant folk, death, concentration camps, destroyed homesteads, a dream in ruins.
I am the child of Nongqawuse. I am he who made it possible to trade in the world markets in diamonds, in gold, in the same food for which our stomachs yearn.
I come of those who were transported from India and China, whose being resided in the fact, solely, that they were able to provide physical labour, who taught me that we could both be at home and be foreign, who taught me that human existence itself demanded that freedom was a necessary condition for that human existence.
Being part of all of these people, and in the knowledge that none dares contest that assertion, I shall
claim that – I am an African……
(the speech continues) and can be found on Wikipeadia.
- Thank you Senegal! Ba Beneem Mangi dem ( Goodbye in Wolof)
Dr Lyndon Bouah