Senegal is a country in Africa. On April 4, Senegal celebrated 50 years of independence from France. On the same day, the old colonial power formally surrendered its military bases in the country. France would take home 900 of its 1,200 soldiers. The remaining 300 would be left to train military in the region and to work on a security system for African military forces.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Senegal has a population of 15.85 million (2018). The day before Independence Day, the criticized giant statue built by North Korea was unveiled in monumental social-realist style. The “Monument of the African Renaissance” is higher than the Statue of Liberty in New York and cost about US $ 27 million to erect. It stands on a hill outside Senegal’s capital Dakar and erected on the initiative of President Abdoulaye Wade to symbolize the liberation from colonial heritage and the hope of a rebirth of African culture. The statue has been criticized by both Christians and Muslims for its symbolism and has also been condemned for its cost. A number of African leaders were present at the inauguration, while thousands of opposition supporters demonstrated and demanded the departure of the president. At first, a demonstration ban had been announced, but it was lifted at the last moment.
More than 50,000 children in Senegal’s Quranic schools live under slave-like conditions. The teachers force the children to beg on the streets, beat them and do not give them the education they are entitled to. This was stated in a report released by the US human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) in April. Many Senegalese children attend traditional Quran schools. Some do it in addition to the regular school, others only attend the Koran school. In poor families, it is common for parents to put the children in boarding schools, which are often far from home, because they want to give the children religious education and a better life than at home. It has been known for a long time that the Taliban begging, which the Koran school students are called, has long been known. In 2005, Senegal’s parliament passed a law that made it illegal to force other people to beg for economic gain. In the HRW report, it was pointed out that the law is not complied with and that some of the Koran schools exploit the lack of government control. Some schools receive over US $ 100,000 a year on begging. They use Islam teaching as a cover for exploiting children for financial gain, according to the report. The reporters demanded that the Senegalese government ensure that the law is followed. In September, the first judgments came against Koran teachers who forced children to beg. Seven teachers received conditional prison sentences. They would only be imprisoned if, within the next six months, they forced children to beg again, but the judges were still considered to be symbolically important.
According to softwareleverage, Senegal and ten other countries east are planning to create a “green wall” of trees across the African continent to stop desertification in the area. The spread of the Sahara causes the agricultural land to shrink and also contributes to global warming.
Leaders from the 11 countries met in Chad in mid-June to discuss the plans. The project means that the countries will create a 15 kilometer wide forest belt from Dakar on the Atlantic coast to Djibouti on the Red Sea. The distance is just over 710 km long. The financial organization Global Environment Facility has promised to invest around US $ 130 million and is also trying to find more donors.
President Abdoulaye Wade appointed his son Karim Wade as energy minister on October 4. The son had previously handled the portfolios of international cooperation, urban and regional planning and infrastructure. The act fueled earlier speculation from opposition and political analysts that the 84-year-old president, who will be leaving office in 2012, is preparing to take his son to take over the presidential post. The President has said that he wants to stand in the 2012 elections for a third term despite the fact that the Constitution does not allow it.
Former Minister of Energy, Samuel Améte Sarr, was dismissed after several weeks of protests against repeated power cuts. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned at the end of September that the insufficient electricity supply threatened the country’s ongoing economic recovery.
Sarr was reassigned to the post of Deputy Head of Department and Financial Advisor to the President.
In mid-October, Senegal received 160 students from the earthquake-stricken Haiti to complete their studies in Senegal. President Wade had promised this help shortly after the serious earthquake in January 2010 that claimed nearly a quarter of a million lives and made more than a million Haitians homeless. Both Haiti and Senegal are former French colonies. A government spokesman said President Wade saw the Haitian students as African sons and daughters because their ancestors had been taken to the Caribbean as slaves.
In mid-December, a Senegalese doctor was sentenced to a fine and conditional imprisonment for a year for publicly stating, two weeks earlier, that Abdoulaye Wade is too ill to continue as president. The doctor was convicted of spreading fake news that discredited the president and risked disrupting the public order in the country.