Bonjour! My name is
Danielle O'Neill and I am a junior Culture and Communication major, french
minor at Ithaca College in upstate New York. My favorite color is burgundy
and i am a sucker for old films...(An Affair to Remember anyone?) I
also love learning about different cultures which is why I left my warm showers
and toilet paper behind in suburbia New Jersey to embark on the adventure of a
lifetime in Dakar, Senegal for the spring semester.
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For weeks up till today, practically the only words I understood on the street that were not spoken in French were, Abdoulaye Wade. Whether people are for him or against him (but mostly against him), this election has been quite the talk of the town since I stepped off of the plane. Time magazine is speculating that the “Senegalese protesters could spark the next African Spring.” The protests that have been occurring in the small city of Dakar is making headlines around the world and it all comes down to the events that could happen tonight. Instead of watching the Academy Awards I will be tuning into both the television and radio (yes, at the same time) along with the rest of the country of Senegal to listen to the results of this historic election. If the incumbent Wade wins, there is a chance that the Senegalese will continue to practice their right to protest, pushing back our spring break trip and possibly will lead to a cancellation of school for a few days.
Within the past year an extremely influential rap group has been the main focus of the protests. They call themselves Y’en A Marre (French for ‘enough is enough’). They have become the voice of the people here in Senegal by attacking mass unemployment, police brutality and corruption. Most importantly, they try to make people take part in any and every way they can. They have encouraged many young people to get out and vote and because of this, they have now become household names here in Senegal. The New York Times writes about Y’en A Marre, “Y’en A Marre was born in frustration: at a days of cuts in electricity, at pervasive poverty, and at a leader who does not want to give up power.” Our program was lucky enough to have two members of Y’en A Marre come in and talk to us this week about their mission. It was extremely moving to hear them speak about how much pride they had in their country and how much they are willing to fight for their people. I felt like even though I am such a little person, I could make a difference, because I have a voice. If only everyone was as passionate as they were! Only time will tell what this election will have in store for the incredibly strong willed people of this country! Inchallah. (Wolof for ‘God willing’)
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