Video presentation of the center
HIGHLIGHT: Black History Month at WARC: John Coltrane: Creativity and Spirituality
The first event celebrating Black History Month at the West African Research Center (WARC), in Dakar took place on Thursday, February 7th, 2019 and featured the document Chasing Coltrane.
The 60 seats of the conference room of the Center, which hosted the activity, were all occupied well before the start time and the facilitator of the day, Professor Maguèye Kasse, a faculty of the Department of German Studies, UCAD, and a great jazz connoisseur, brillantly introduced the film and expertly led the discussions which followed after the screening.
Coltrane, indeed, amply deserves the tribute, not only as a genius of Jazz and a trailblazer in that musicial expression, but also as a compassionate, humane militant of universal peace.
He teamed up with Martin Luther King in the agonizing events of Birmingham (Alabama) and also went to Japan to perform and lament the Nagasaki tragedy. Playing music was a major endeavor for him as his objective always was to cultivate peace and universal harmony and “make mankind happy”.
HIGHLIGHT: “Mouvement Citoyen” Panel Discussion at WARC: Pour une Election Presidentielle Zéro Violence au Senegal (For a Presidential Election with no Violence in Senegal)
The panel was organized Wednesday, February 6th by a major component of the senegalese civil society, the Mouvement Citoyen, in collaboration with the West African Research Center (WARC).
Violence in politics, and particularly at election times, has always been the lamented scourge of democracy in Senegal and, with the presidential election just less than three weeks away, it was thought appropriate to convene the general public, reporters and researchers to engage in discussions likely to shed light on the hazards of political violence with the hope that the upcoming presidential election scheduled on February 24th will be another uneventful democratic exercise.
Several topics were addressed by the panelists including: The History of Elections in Africa: Stakes and Challenges (Professor Abderahmane Ngaide, Department of History, UCAD), Election and Political Violence in Senegal (Professor Souleymane Gomis, Sociology, UCAD), the Role of Citizens in the Management of Free and Democratic Elections (Professor Ousmane Séne, WARC Director). The proceedings were co-moderated by Professor Penda Mbow (History, UCAD and Founder of the Mouvement Citoyen) and Dr Ousmane Ba (Sociology, UCAD and Director of the Political Section in the Mouvement Citoyen).
Over two hours, the panelists engaged in fruitful exchanges with participants with the event being covered by several local media for the populations in the country to get the message and further determine to vote and avert violence on the appointed day. Professor Ousmane Sene also produced a breviary including ten recommendations encouraging voters to cast their ballots with discipline but also exercise tolerance for other people to do the same and accept results culled from the ballot boxes regardless of the winner who will be proclaimed President of the Republic of Senegal in the evening of Sunday, February 24th.
Le Vade Mecum ou Bréviaire de l’Electeur Citoyen
(Par Ousmane Sène, Directeur WARC)
Mbokku Senegal: Ci-dessous, vous trouverez dix recommandations qui, si elles sont suivies et respectées par esprit citoyen et donc civique, contribueront, au-delà de l’échéance électorale du 24 Février 2019, à mieux asseoir, consolider et civiliser le jeu démocratique dans ce pays qui gère des processus électoraux depuis plus d’un siècle. Ce faisant et à l’instar d’autres démocraties de la sous-région, nous aurons contribué à faire mieux entendre et faire respecter la voix et le vœu de nos populations pour amorcer des embellies et percées économiques, sociales et politiques durables pour une Afrique unie, paisible et prospère.
1. Je suis un électeur avec une bonne conscience citoyenne: j’ai déjà retiré ma carte d’électeur
2. Je me veux un électeur citoyen: je n’ai pas encore retiré ma carte d’électeur et je vais le faire, quoi qu’il m’en coûte, avant le 24 Février pour pouvoir voter
3. Ma carte d’électeur et d’identité CDEAO est le document le plus précieux que je puisse avoir par devers moi. Je ferai tout pour ne jamais l’égarer.
4. Le jour du vote, je me présenterai à mon centre de vote et ferai tranquillement et patiemment la queue devant mon bureau de vote.
5. Ma carte d’électeur est le gage de ma citoyenneté et le garant de mes droits et obligations en tant que tel. Je ne laisserai personne me ravir mon statut citoyen par un achat de conscience, aussi alléchante que l’offre puisse être. La dignité ne se monnaie pas.
6. Si le numéro de mon bureau de votre a été changé à mon insu, je ferai preuve de citoyenneté et chercherai mon nouveau bureau ou je ferai la queue en toute quiétude et patience.
7. Je me présenterai devant les membres du bureau muni de ma carte, prendrai les bulletins une fois ma carte vérifiée et mon nom identifié, et me retirerai devant l’urne pour y mettre le bulletin de mon choix.
8. Je signerai en bonne et due forme et tremperai mon doigt dans l’encre indélébile (si c’est requis) pour authentifier l’accomplissement de mes devoir et obligation citoyens.
9. Je ne m’attarderai pas devant le centre de vote une fois mon devoir accompli. Je rentrerai chez moi. Je m’occuperai tranquillement comme je le fais chaque weekend en attendant les résultats provisoires. J’ai voté pour mon candidat et je reconnais aussi aux autres le privilège de voter en toute liberté et toute latitude pour le candidat de leur choix. Je peux être partisan mais pas intolérant.
10. Je resterai chez moi devant la radio ou la télé à écouter l’annonce des résultats provisoires. Les tendances me sont favorables: je contiens ma joie ou l’exprime dans mon salon. Les résultats commencent à être défavorables, je contiens mes sentiments et ne manifesterai pas ma déception par des actes de violence dans la rue. Mon pays, le Sénégal se construit dans la paix. La violence détruit l’œuvre et les sacrifices de mes aïeux, de mes parents ainsi que celle de ma génération dans ce pays. Je ne la laisserai pas m’aveugler et m’aiguillonner vers une folie destructrice. Senegal benn bopp la, ken mënukoo xar ñaar!
HIGHLIGHT: The Surabhi Ensemble Performs at WARC
On Friday January 25, 2019, from 6pm to 7:30pm, the WARC premises were visited by a mix of beautiful and enticing oriental, western and african sounds professionally distilled by the talented musicians and dancers of the Surabhi Ensemble.
A few months ago, the leader of the group, Mrs Larissa Rolley, had approached WARC for suggestions on places where they could perform in Dakar as part of their international tour. The group, among others, features its founder Mrs Saraswathi, a great player of the Indian wind instrument, the veena, and the senegalese talking drum player Massamba Diop who is featured in the soundtrack of the film Black Panther.
The mission of the Surabhi Ensemble is to demonstrate the importance of cross-cultural exchange and to teach a positive message of togetherness by educating, performing and demonstrating new works of music and dance. Members of the Surabhi Ensemble also work with hospitals and community organizations to share this positive message of cultural unity and community outreach.
HIGHLIGHT:Book Launch: Felwine Sarr and Benedicte Savoy: Restituer le Patrimoine Africain(Repatriating Africa’s Cultural Heritage)
(Editions Seuil/Phillipe Rey, 2018)
The book results from the report the two authors submitted to President Emmanuel Macron, who, very early in his presidency, pledged to give back to african countries artefacts and art objects which, since the colonial days or earlier, have been kept in french museums. The move was not without creating some commotion in cu
ltural and other circles in Europe and particularly in France but the decision has started being gradually implemented as witnessed by the collaborative efforts engaged in by the Quai Branly Museum in France and the recently inaugurated Musée des Civilisations Noires (Museum of Black Civilisations) in Dakar, Senegal, to repatriate to Dakar Senegal art objects and artefacts..
The panel including one of the authors, Professor Felwine Sarr, also featured the distinguished african historian and social scientist, Professor Achile Mbembe, currently a faculty at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, and professor Bado Ndoye of the Department of Philosophy, Universiy Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar.
The book itself and the issues of repatriation and reparations, among others, kindled the lively debate which followed the presentation of the book. The participants hailed the french initiative, the production of the report and the book by Felwine Sarr and Benedicte Savoy but also the building and recent opening of the Museum of Black Civilizations in the senegalese capital. The 150 attendees only lamented the fact that the book was too quickly sold out and are looking forward to its second edition.
HIGHLIGHT: CAORC/WARC Professional Development Seminar: Diversity, Religion and Migration in West Africa
The seminar organized by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC, Washington DC) and the West African Research Center (WARC, Dakar) took place in Senegal on January 6-23, 2019.It was coordinated by Professor Mbye Cham (Howard University) and Dr Charity Clay (Xavier University, New Orleans) and attended by seventeen faculty from Puerto Rico, Virginia, California, Texas, Indiana, Maryland, Illinois, Arizona, New York and Georgia.
The seminar was also sponsored by the following Title VI African National Resource Centers (NRC): Boston University African Studies Center, University of California-Berkeley Center for African Studies, Howard University Center for African Studies, Indiana University African Studies Program, University of Kansas African Studies Program, Michigan State University African Studies Program and University of Wisconsin-Madison African Studies Program.
Over two weeks, participants attended presentations, film screenings and other activities covering the theme of the seminar: diversity, religion and migration in West Africa. They also traveled and discovered other parts and realities of the country from North (Saint Louis) to central Senegal (Touba) as well as the south central landscapes, small towns and villages of the country (Toubacouta and environs near the Gambian border). They had the chance to see and experience ethnic, religious, cultural, social and economic diversities and migratory trends while traveling or attending lectures and watching films and documentaries.
According to participants, the seminar has been a major contribution to their better understanding of west african realities and to the significant improvement of their teachings on Africa in their various universities and community colleges. It is hoped that other faculty from the United States will be offered the same opportunity in years to come.
HIGHLIGHT: Book Launch: Ousmane Oumar Kane: Les Senegalais d’Amerique: Islam, Transnationalisme, Integration(Editions Cerdis, janvier 2019)
The book mentioned above is the french translation of the original which was published in 2011 by the Oxford University Press, New York under the title: The Homeland is the Arena. Religion, Transnationalism and the Integration of Senegalese Immigrants in America.
The event drew a large crowd in one of the WARC conference rooms and was widely covered by local media on Friday, January 18th, 2019. The panel set up to discuss the book included Dr Ebrima Sall former Codesria Executive Secretary and currently Executive Director of TrustAfrica, member of parliament and distinguished religious leader, Serigne Mansour Sy Jamil, the panel chair Professor Bouna Mouhamed Seck, retired faculty at University Cheikh Anta Diop and currently Chief of Staff of the Speaker of the Senegalese National Assembly, and Professor Ousmane Sene, WARC Director.
The various panelists underscored the quality of the essay with its in-depth research and analysis of various issues relating to immigration, transnationalism, cultural rootedness and integration. The role played by faith in the various social and sociological situations challenging migrants was also amply discussed.
The book was unanimously hailed as an excellent resource for researchers interested in the sociology of migration, in cross-cultural experiences but also in the role played by religion (Islam in particular) in the lives of Senegalese and other Africans on the continent or abroad.
The event was attended by 99 people.
HIGHLIGHT: Book Presentation and Dedication: Dr Rhamane Idrissa:
Islam et Politique au Sahel: entre Persuasion et Violence, EPGA Niamey 2018
(The Politics of Islam in the Sahel: Between Persuasion and Violence, Routledge, London, June 2017)
The essay was presented to the public in its french version on Friday, December 28th, 2018 at the West African Research Center (WARC) in Dakar. The panelists included the author himself and colleagues from the Department of Philosophy, University Cheikh Anta Diop, namely Dr Hady Ba and Dr Bado Ndoye.
After the welcome words from the Director of WARC, the panelists started exploring and analysing the contents of the five chapters of the book focusing particularly on the politics of Islam in countries such as Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, Mali and Nigeria. Through those Sahelian case studies, the essay endeavors to make the difference between Islam and political ideologies which strive to secure political power in order to rule and change society. Although such ideologies draw their legitimacy from religion, the author clearly shows that they are mere temporal attempts and initiatives defined by their confrontation with other ideologies – either liberal or progressive – within the arena of the nation state (the five sahelian countries under scrutiny).
The issues raised and discussed by the various panelists and the author were followed by lively questions and contributions from the audience composed of 25 people including academics, political analysts, students, reporters and the larger public.
The author, Dr Rahmane Idrissa, is a political scientist from Niger currently teaching and doing research at the Center of African Studies of the University of Leyden, The Netherlands.
Researchers’ Mini Seminar: Dr Abosede Omowumi Babatunde: Oil and Conflict in Nigeria: Towards Traditional Mechanisms of Conflict Resolution.
On December 27th, 2018, Dr. Abosede Omowumi Babatunde from the University of Ilorin, (Nigeria) gave a presentation on the topic “Oil and Conflict in Nigeria: Towards Traditional Mechanisms of Conflict Resolution,” at the West African Research Center (WARC)) in Dakar.
Dr. Babatunde, a fellow of the African Humanities program (AHP) of the American Councils for Learned Societies (ACLS), argued that conflict over oil exploitation by multinational oil companies has manifested in different forms in the Niger Delta, including intra and inter-communal conflicts. Focusing on the specific case of Ilaje – a local government area in Ondo State located near the Atlantic coast, she revealed that ownership of land rich in oil has often yielded substantial monetary compensations to local communities. This factor has occasionally exacerbated communal disputes over oil-rich land and fishing areas, particularly in host communities and impacted such communities.
Dr. Babatunde noted that most of the studies on conflict resolution focus on modern methods that are of limited effectiveness in the African context. She went on to explain how traditional mechanisms of conflict resolution (namely culture and belief system) have been used to resolve conflicts in Angola, Rwanda, Sierra Leone….
Like elsewhere in the oil-producing area of Niger Delta, communal disturbances have become a persistent feature in Ilaje. However, the cultural and belief system (traditional institutions, sacred codes, social control mechanisms, and shrines) of this community have been effectively mobilized in a creative way to resolve the destructive consequences of oil-related conflicts. Nevertheless, given the conservative nature of traditional methods, Dr. Babatunde suggested a combination of both traditional and modern approaches to conflict resolution.
In response to questions from the audience worried about the forthcoming exploitation of oil in Senegal, Dr. Babatunde warned that multinational oil corporations are more concerned about profit maximization at the expense of investments beneficial to host communities. Drawing from the experience of Nigerian regarding oil exploration and exploitation, Dr. Babatunde recommended that state officials in Senegal formulate and enforce policies that are respectful of international environmental standards. They should also make sure that people participate in the decision making processes and ensure a fair redistribution of oil revenues.
The event , which was facilitated by Dr Mamadou Bodian ( PhD in Political Science, University of Florida / Gainesville) , was attended by over 20 people.
HIGHLIGHT: International Conference at WARC: Life History and Memographie: Encountering Socio-religious Change in Northwest Africa
The conference, sponsored by the Global Religious Research Initiative (Notre Dame University and the Templeton Foundation), the Alliance Francaise, LAPSAD (University Gaston Berger, Senegal) and the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life (Columbia University), was held at the West African Research Center on December 13-15 with some 20 participants coming from West Africa, North Africa, the United States and Europe. Religion and personal lives and narratives, religion and social changes, religion and diversity, religion and the need to adjust to changing times and life circumstances were among the major themes discussed during the gathering by the scholars, academics and graduate students who attended.
The conference also featured a public lecture offered by a Columbia University faculty, Professor Souleymane Bachir Diagne, on the theme: Islam dans l’Ouest Africain: Pour une Philosophie d’Ouverture aux Temps qui Changent(Islam in West Africa: for a Philosophy of Openness to Changing Times).
For Professor Diagne, the problem facing the world nowadays is “the absolute refusal to accept pluralism”. Many other relevant topics were also adressed by the speaker. The lecture was attended by 87people including academics, researchers, students and the larger public.
HIGHLIGHT : Country Representatives of the Library of Congress West Africa Acquisitions Project(WAAP) attend workshop at WARC
On October 15-17, country representatives from 11 african countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’ivoire, The Gambia, Guinea-Conakry, Mali, Niger, Central African Republic, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo) gathered in Dakar to discuss and exchange on a number of issues with the view to improving the performances of the project. The representative from Chad could not make it to Dakar for last-minute professional impediments. The opportunity to meet in Dakar was much appreciated by the country reps who, along with the Library of Congress official, Mrs Angela Kinney, the CAORC representative Katie Jost, the Director of WARC, the project coordinator, Atoumane Mbay, and other people involved, amply dwelt on their experiences as implementors of the project in their respective countries. Among issues addressed during the two-day meeting featured the timely shipment of acquisitions, the quantity and quality of collections, selection and budget guidelines, possible acquiring of electronic and digital resources, areas of collection as well as a virtual webinar on BestMARC with Cindy Beerkircher, Director of Operations Mitinet.
After a bib reps’ roundtable on the future and goals of the WAAP project, resolutions and recommendations were made for an improved execution of the project although, according to the LOC representative, Mrs Angela Kinney, results so far achieved were very stimulating and encouraging.
The workshop was closed on Wednesday October 17 by the Director of WARC and the project country reps returned home with the pledge and determination to continue working for the full success of the WAAP project.
HIGHLIGHT: Opening Ceremony of the Museum of Black Civilizations
Before the official opening on Thursday, December 6th, 2018, a number of events were organized over the last two years for the pre-figuration and configuration of the Museum of Black Civilizations recently erected in Dakar.
The West African Research Center (WARC) contributed to those events by teaming up with the staff of the Museum and helping identify resource persons to be involved in the process, chiefly from museums and other institutions in the United States.
The Museum was officlally inaugurated on Thursday December 6th by the President of Senegal and the event took place in the premises of the structure and at the neigboring Grand Theatre which, for the occasion, was full to capacity.
The various speakers of the day, including the President himself and the Vice Chancellor of University Cheikh Anta Diop, Professor Ibrahima Thioub, while reminding the audience that the idea of such a museum dated back to the first days of independence with President L.S. Senghor, insisted on the fact that the Museum was created to promote and vindicate the active presence of Africa and the black man in world history while stressing the necessary interactions with other continents and other human groups in the past, the present and the future.
The opening was followed, on Saturday December 8th, by an inaugural colloquium on the topic “Reclaiming Black Civilizations. Finishing the Decolonization Process”. Many specialists from the United States, Europe and the African continent attended and made insightful contributions to the colloquium.
HIGHLIGHT: Book Presentation and Dedication
Macky Sall: Le Sénégal au Coeur (Editions Cherche-Midi, Novembre 2018)
The West African Research Center was recognized and honored when its Director was called upon for a critical reading and presentation of the book recently published by the President of the Republic of Senegal, Macky Sall, who, according to his words, need to engage in a one-to-one conversation with the senegalese people and the rest of the world to better represent his personality and the content of his character to them. The essay is titled: Le Senegal au Coeur (Senegal in my heart and soul).
In the book, as the Director of WARC noted on Tuesday, December 11th at the Terrou Bi hotel, the venue of the event, the author appears in three postures: the political leader (less conspicuous), the head of state (challenging himself about his mission and also the burden of power and responsibility) but, most importantly, the private person as a father, a husband and a citizen (closer and rather likeable).
As agreed with organizers, the Director of WARC did not discuss debatable political issues (the essay does not include many of those) but dwelt, rather on those aspects reflecting the personality of the President as a private person and as a family man and member and underscored some moving chapters in the essay: when Macky Sall, in his “long march”, (after being sacked as Prime Minister and subsequently as President (Speaker) of the National Assembly), engaged in long and trying peregrinations to the four corners of deep Senegal to experience challenging circumstances under which senegalese people (specially rural populations) lived in their hamlets and villages with no electricity, no running water and far away health care units.
The Director of WARC also elaborated on the narrative style of the essay: simple sentences, ordinary vocabulary, hardly any circumvoluted phrases and expressions. Just a conversational style to engage in a dialogue with readers.
The presentation was completed by the other two panelists who explored and analyzed political issues and such as reflected in the essay.
The event was attended by no less than 600 people including diplomats, high-level officials of the senegalese government, political leaders and reporters.
HIGHLIGHT: The BU African Studies Center reaches out to WARC to consolidate cooperation and collaborative initiatives
The Director of the Boston University African Studies Center, Professor Fallou Ngom, and the Center’s Assistant Director, Dr Eric Schmidt, visited the West African Research Center (WARC) on Tuesday, July 31st, for a highly promising meeting with the WARC Director and some of his collaborators.
The purpose of the visit was to explore ways and means to consolidate the already very productive collaboration between the two institutions. As Professor Fallou Ngom (BU) and Professor Sene (WARC) agreed, the collaborative effort which has been operating between the two centers so far has been grounded on mutual trust and confidence, accountability, professionalism and the same eagerness to serve the academic, research and student communities on both sides of the Atlantic.
The successes already recorded in the various joint efforts engaged in by WARC and the BU African Studies Center are encouraging enough to warrantee the consolidation of the achievements recorded so far and explore other avenues for collaboration and mutual support.
In this respect, the African Studies Center will offer opportunities for training and human resource development to WARC staff in a number of areas; WARC will also serve as the hub of a number of activities to be initiated by the African Studies Center such as Phd opportunities for mandinka speaking graduate students in the Gambia and Senegal. Also, at the end of the Ajami project, funds will be provided to equip WARC with a server to support the activities of the Center’s library.
Study abroad activities were also discussed at length and, with the extensive experience of WARC in that area, the BU African Studies Center will be soon launching a program based at the West African Research Center in Dakar.
It should be noted that the BU African Studies Center has been hosting for years the office of the WARC governing body, the West African Research Association (WARA) on the BU campus in Boston.
HIGHLIGHT: Book Launch: Alioune Diop: Gouvernance des Diversités: Enjeu de Prévention de Conflits en Afrique (L’Harmattan-Senegal, 2018)
The author, Alioune Diop, is a retired colonel of the Senegalese armed forces who, for a long time, served in various international organisations operating in the world for peace keeping and the prevention of conflicts. The book he wrote is a compendium of his experience in the field specially with his long-time involvement in peace keeping and crisis solving on the african continent.
For the occasion, a number of experts were lined up for the panel presided over by writer and former senegalese minister of culture Makhily Gassama.
Colonel Diop, who also participated in the WARC/RESOLVE international workshop on Developing the Next Research Agenda for the Study of Violent Extremism in North Africa and the Sahel (WARC, July 18-19, 2018), was praised for his penmanship but also for his insightful observations on the causes of crises and unrests on the continent and his perceptive analysis of diversities as assets rather than channels for the disruption of peace among communities.
The event was attended by 120 people including high ranking officers in the Senegalese army, officials from the diplomatic sector and many scholars and researchers interested in the subject.
Le Soleil – Jeudi 26 Juillet 2018- Page 17
HIGHLIGHT: Resolve Network International Workshop: Charting Research Priorities: Developing the next Research Agenda for the Study of Violent Extremism in North Africa and the Sahel.
An international workshop on the above topic was hosted on July 18-19 at the West African Research Center (WARC) as the first illustration of a developing partnership between the Center and the Resolve Network of the United States Institute of Peace.
The meeting was attended by 31 participants from the United States, Nigeria, Tunisia, Chad, Cameroon, Mali , Lybia & Senegal to discuss research issues and strategies to better grasp the intricate nexus of violent extremism in North Africa and the Sahel.
Over those two days, participants shared their views on many research questions relating to violent extemism. Research methodologies, research challenges and priorities were discussed by the experts attending and it is hoped that the proceedings will be a major contribution to better understanding and better countering violent extremisism in the african regions targeted but also in the rest of the continent and the world.
The workshop was convened by the West African Research Center as the first step toward a more active and productive collaboration between the Dakar-based Center and the Resolve Network.
HIGHLIGHT: The 4th international conference of the Dakar Institute opens at WARC
For four years running, the Dakar Institute of African Studies (DIAS) mostly grouping young african faculty teaching in US and west african universities has been convening high-level international conferences on various topics and subjects relevant to current issues on the continent and in the area of the social sciences and the humanities.
This year’s topic focused on “Bridging the Gap: Black Studies Across Social, Geographic, Epistemic and Linguistic Lines“
The annual event was attended this year by no less than 60 young scholars hailing from various countries and regions including Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, the Caribbean and the USA.
WARC and University Cheikh Anta Diop have been offering their premises to host the event and, this year, the opening ceremony took place in the WARC DAART Conference room and was presided over by the Rector of UCAD, Professor Ibrahima Thioub and the Director of WARC, Professor Ousmane Sene.