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Showing posts from February, 2012

The Letter-Writing Project: Senegal - Cradle of An African Re-Awakening?

Dear Fellow African,

The hour is nigh, and the trumpet has sounded. After months of dilly-dallying, the levees have broken and Senegal, as we know it, is at a crossroads. It could also very well be the cradle of an African Re-Awakening. Call it the "Africa Spring", a "Renaissance" or a "Revolution", it is here.

I'm not going to use ink and paper describing what led this West African "beacon of democracy" down this path. Unfortunately, we know it all too well. Here it is in under 140 characters:


It's ironic that the leader in this case is the very one who spent an estimated $27million on a copper statue which he named "La Monument de La Renaissance Africaine." I doubt Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade ever imagined that those words would be transformed into the energy that is sweeping across Senegal as we speak.
The global economic crisis might have wrecked havoc in many-a financial market, but to its credit, it also caused a…

Africa Spring: Insights on Senegal from Arame Tall

As some of you probably know, I worked in Senegal for a while with an NGO focused on women and youth rights. I also got the opportunity to interact with many locals and to get a sense of the political situation under Wade's government. Many Senegalese are simply fed up with Wade and want him out. His second term is coming to an end and elections are due on February 26. Like Ghana, a Senegalese president is allowed to have a maximum of two consecutive terms. However, Wade circumvented the constitution and secured a go-ahead from the Supreme Court (whose judges he appointed) to run for a possible third term in office. The result? Mass protests across the country dubbed "Y'en A Marre, Wade Degage!" (We're Fed Up, Wade Get Out!). It should be noted though that all this has been brewing for a very long while, stemming largely from the economic crisis, rising costs of living and the incessant power cuts in Senegal last March. Also, many people - myself included - don&…

The Letter Writing Project: Grad School - A 'Yes, yes' or 'No, no'?

Dear Prospective Graduate Student,

After "officially" completing my first semester at JHU SAIS in Bologna, Italy, I figured it might be helpful to share some of my insights with you, especially since quite a number of your counterparts have already approached me in that regard. So, what are the bolts and nuts of opting for graduate school? Well, I don't have all the answers, and I'm certain responses differ with each person but here are some of the main things I have to say.

1. Know Your Status
By your status I'm not talking "HIV/AIDS". I'm talking know your legal status in the country you'll be studying in and the corresponding do's and don'ts. Knowing your status should also make it easier to figure out what financial options you have, whether you qualify for certain scholarships, if you can undertake an internship or do some work while studying, all of that. The ideal case would be to know your status before you apply to a given progr…