Letter from Senegal Bush Brings Baggage to Africa

Friday July 18, 2003

The following is an anonymous letter from a resident of Senegal originally posted on the SunMt.org Web site: 


More than 1,500 persons have been arrested and put in jail between Thursday and Monday. Hopefully they will be released now that the Big Man is gone. 

The US Army’s planes flying day and night over Dakar. The noise they make is so loud that one hardly sleeps at night. 

About 700 security people from the U.S. for Bush’s security in Senegal, with their dogs, and their cars. Senegalese security forces were not allowed to come near the U.S. president. All trees in places where Bush will pass have been cut. Some of them have more than 100 years. 

All roads going downtown (where hospitals, businesses, schools are located) were closed from Monday night to Tuesday at 3 p.m. This means that we could not go to our offices or schools. Sick people were also obliged to stay at home. 

National exams for high schools that started on Monday are postponed until Wednesday. 

Bush’s visit to the Goree Island is another story. As you may know Goree is a small island facing Dakar where from the 15th to the 19th century, the African slaves to be shipped to America were parked in special houses called slave houses. One of these houses has become a museum to remind humanity about this dark period and has been visited by kings, queens, presidents. Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, and before them, Nelson Mandela, the Pope and many other distinguished guests or ordinary tourists visited it without bothering the islanders. But for “security reasons” this time, the local population was chased out of their houses from 5 to 12 a.m. They were forced by the American security to leave their houses and leave everything open, including their wardrobes to be searched by special dogs brought from the U.S. 

The ferry that links the island to Dakar was stopped and offices and businesses closed for the day. 

According to an economist who was interviewed by a private radio, Senegal that is a very poor country has lost huge amount of money in this visit, because workers have been prevented from walking out of their homes. 

In addition to us being prevented to go out, other humiliating things happened. Bush did not want to be with Senegalese or use our things. He brought his own armchairs, and of course his own cars, and meals and drinks. He came with his own journalists and ours were forbidden inside the airport and in places he was visiting. 

Our president was not allowed to make a speech. Only Bush spoke when he was in Goree. He spoke about slavery. It seems that he needs the vote of the African-American to be elected in the next elections, and wanted to please them. That’s why he visited Goree. 

Several protest marches against American politics have been organized yesterday and even when Bush was here, but we think he does not care. 

We have the feeling that everything has been done to convince us that we are nothing, and that America can behave the way it wants, everywhere, even in our country. 

Believe me friends, it is a terrible feeling. But according to a Ugandan friend of mine, I should not complain because in Uganda, one of the countries he is going to visit, Bush does not intend to go out of the airport. He will receive the Ugandan President in the airport lounge. 

Nevertheless, I think I am lucky, because I have such wonderful American friends. But there are now thousands of Senegalese who believe that for all Americans the world is their territory.