Corruption, debt, lack of transparency: Some Senegalese from the post-independence generation believe that successive governments have failed to ensure an economic balance. 29-year-old Fatou Thiam is no exception to this.
By Bineta Diagne
With a book in hand and an almost sophisticated appearance, Fatou starts talking about economics, history and literature. The independence of Senegal? A sense of pride. A victory gained by a handful of men, fifty years ago.
She mentions the role of the "porteurs de pancartes" (placards carriers, ed), who in 1958 demanded the country's independence from France. "They fought for it, independence was all that matters to them," she says.
A “futile” symbol
Despite all this recognition, Fatou celebrated the 50 years of independence of her country totally disinterested. On the National Day, on April 4, she shunned the parade with great fanfare, organised by the governement and where several African leaders were invited.
Neither was she there when the Monument of the African Renaissance, a giant statue erected on a hill in Dakar, was inaugurated. A "futile", even "useless" symbol, which she has seen from afar, on her small screen.
"I do not feel 100% independent," she says with disgust, reluctant to take stock of the past fifty years. "There have been positive aspects - not much - and negative ones," she says tersely.
For this young graduate of the University of Dakar, the economic backwardness of the country is a clear sign of the failure of the country's independence, gangrened by some form of "neocolonialism". "You always feel the imprint of the West," she complains, while refering to "a lot of blocking factors.”
Among these obstacles is the "debt" Senegal has incurred with international institutions. "We borrow too much," laments Fatou. She thinks this phenomenon is of great concern for the future generations. “They will have to pay the debts of today, while we're still incurring more of them. And to advocate a policy of austerity", while" fighting corruption ".
"Many values have been lost, it is now a frantic pursuit of money," she says. "They (the Senegalese, ed) just try to earn enough for the daily spending, that's all," she says desperately. Pessimistic about the future of her country, she mentions one after the other a chain of factors why the country is adrift: the precariousness of employment, individualism and lack of reaction from the youth.