The New Type of Senegalese under Construction: Fadel Barro and Aliou Sane on Yenamarrisme after Wade

Article excerpt

Introduction

Senegal's Y'en a Marre movement, formed in early 2011, was instrumental in mobilizing the nation's population, and especially its youth, to participate in the 2012 presidential election and to prevent the incumbent president, Abdoulaye Wade, from hijacking the political institutions and electoral process in order to remain in power. (1) Since the 2012 election, far from evaporating, Y'en a Marre has pursued a broader agenda of projects (chantiers in French; a chantier is a construction site) in support of its objective of fostering an "NTS" (Nouveau Type de Senegalais / New Type of Senegalese). The NTS agenda proceeds from the understanding that strong national institutions can only be founded on a society of responsible and engaged citizens who act with integrity and demand the same from their leaders. Founding members of the movement and key players in its inner core group, the two journalists Fadel Barro and Aliou Sane have become familiar public figures alongside the noted rap artists with whom Y'en a Marre has been identified since its inception. Popular enthusiasm and media attention for the movement have spread beyond Senegal, so that it now has a pan-African and intercontinental presence. Furthermore, the coverage and analysis of the movement has progressed from the press article or broadcast report to the scholarly study and film documentary. (2) In the interviews upon which this article is based, Barro and Sane relate the philosophy, character, and evolution of Y'en a Marre as it lays the foundations for a lasting social movement, while still seeking to remain true to its original calling as a protest movement and "sentinel of democracy."

Certain dates stand out in the brief history (so far) of Y'en a Marre--January 16 and 18, 2011; March 19, 2011; June 23, 2011--and Y'en a Marre members commonly invoke significant dates for the values they represent to the movement. Whereas January 16 and 18 (genesis of Y'en a Marre) or June 23 (mass protests against Wade's attempt to amend the constitution) are important markers of the popular exasperation and mobilization against chronic government corruption, mismanagement, and manipulation that spawned the movement, they are not the dates mentioned by Barro and Sane when they discuss the future of Y'en a Marre post-Wade. Following the 2012 presidential election and the success of their efforts to prevent Wade from acceding to what was widely considered an unconstitutional third term in office, Y'en a Marre members are now interested in shifting the emphasis in their public image from one of protest and conflict to one of positive, constructive action, and for that reason, both Barro and Sane begin their remarks by invoking the date of March 19, 2011. (3)

The Interviews

Fadel Barro: I think I should start by defining the concept of Y'en a Marre. What are we trying to do, what's the philosophy of our current action? There is something important to keep in mind from even before Abdoulaye Wade left office--the date of March 19, 2011, when we launched the concept of the New Type of Senegalese (NTS). (4) We were already saying, in a way, that the many problems faced by the people of Senegal don't just come from Abdoulaye Wade, they go beyond the politicians. It's the whole system, and to change it, we have to take a look at ourselves. We have to examine our own behavior, our habits with regard to the country and to public life. What is our share of the responsibility? That's what motivated our idea of the NTS. Even before Abdoulaye Wade left office, we said that change in Senegal will not come from a political leader, much less from a political party or coalition of parties. Change will come from each Senegalese understanding that the problem of Senegal is his or her problem. So we weren't expecting Macky Sall to come and change everything, that's important to note.

Aliou Sane: On March 19, 2011, when we called the Senegalese to a big rally, we launched the manifesto that I consider one of the most important things Y'en a Marre has produced. …