“How can we accept the fact that countries like Cameroon, Gabon and Senegal are doing better these days, when we all became independent at the same time?”
Edouard Takadji, a 22-year old student, is restless. The look of despair on his face reveals his dismay at having been born a citizen of Chad. He describes Chad’s current situation by comparing it with other countries that gained independence in the same year.
by Odjitan Maji-Maji
Edouard says that those who fought for independence weren’t prepared for it. Had he been alive at the time, he says he would not have supported the struggle. He would rather find himself in these circumstances as a colonial subject than as an independent citizen. Visibly anxious, Edouard speaks nervously, calming himself with the words: “God is great, and I am hopeful that things will change at some point.”
A fervent Catholic, he seeks God’s blessing for everything he says by genuflecting before and after every answer to our questions.
Takadji, a 3rd-year Human Resources student, believes that after 50 years of independence the people of Chad still depend on the former colonial power. For him, independence signifies autonomy, and yet in reality Chad is not autonomous. An oil-rich country, Chad is far from able to manage its own economics and politics. The people of Chad have stagnated miserably, with fate and future decided by the West. “If we take a good look at the way things are going, can we really say that Chad is independent?”
Nothing but war
“In 50 years of independence, Chad has known nothing but war. Nothing has been done to reconcile the people of this country.” According to this student, everything the elders have told him about the past proves that life under the colonial regime was better than it is now. And that independence was badly timed by his forefathers. “We should have waited until 1990 to become independent.”
Edouard Takadji adds that Chad will only be truly independent when it secures peace, social cohesion and political and economic autonomy.