(What is going on with the land of the Great pan Africanist Senghor) ?

BY Yohannes Gebresellsie (Ph.d) Addis Ababa


 (9 October 1906 – 20 December 2001)

The Senegalese people are one of the wonderful and warm African people who possess a multi faceted talent with unique and rich cultural heritage.  Their French language ability surprises even the French people. One can simply refer to Leopold Sedhar Senghor (Their first president). Senghor (1906 – 2001), first president of Senegal was internationally acclaimed poet, writer and statesman. Léopold Sédar Senghor, first president of Senegal, acclaimed poet, writer, teacher and statesman was one of the three co-founders or fathers of the African philosophical movement known as ‘Negritude’. Senghor became the first black African to become the top qualification for the French education system, and became a professor of African languages and civilization at the National School of France. He died at Verson, France, on 20 December 2001. He is regarded by many as one of the most important African intellectuals of the 20th century.

Senghor was not only a true African but also an excellent poet, writer and academic as well. He was one of the founders of the organization of African Unity (OAU) the precursor to the African union (AU). He was one of those African leaders  to chose Addis Ababa to be the Head quarter of the organization of African Unity. Senghor as a poet and writer published many books manly in French and that includes writing about Ethiopia: a country he regards as his second country for a variety reasons manly associated with anti-colonialism and the struggle against colonialism.

Soon after achieving independence, a number of African states expressed a growing desire for more unity within the continent. Not everyone was agreed on how this unity could be achieved, however, two opinionated groups emerged in this respect: The Casablanca bloc, led by Kwame Nekruma of Ghana, wanted a federation of all African countries. Aside from Ghana, it comprised also Algeria, Guinea, Morocco, Egypt, Mali and Libya. The Monrovian bloc, led by Senghor of Senegal felt that unity should be achieved gradually through economic cooperation. It did not support the notion of a political federation.  Its other members were Nigeria, Liberia, Ethiopia and most of the former French colonies. Some of the initial discussions took place at Sanniquellie, Liberia. The dispute was eventually resolved when Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie invited the two groups to Addis Ababa where the OAU and its headquarters were subsequently established. The Charter of the Organization was signed by 32 independent African states.

Senghor related Ethiopia as a symbol of liberation and freedom exemplary for all black races and he wrote extensively about that. Senghor was an intellectual, a leader and a philosopher and was a pride for Africa. We Ethiopians have a great respect and admiration to this great African who loved, respected and defended our nation in every stage be it regional, continental or global. Soon after him however, we have witnessed some shift here and there by his successors in Senegal’s diplomatic alignment on few African issues; some minor others quite significant.

Ethiopians recall the great speech by our late PM. Meles Zenawi with regard to the issue of where the seat of the African Union (AU) should be located. Ethiopians recall with great regret when Senegal along with Khadafi: the late Lybian dictator wanted to move the AU from Addis to Libya. Such a conspiracy which was designed, orchestrated and planned by the then Libyan dictator Mohammer Khadafi was also supported by Senegal. That plan and conspiracy failed thanks to the solid and intelligent argument of our late PM Meles Zenawi and the support of almost all African nations except Senegal and Lybia.

Senegal is a proud African nation but more often than not, it sides with Arabs than Africans; why? The most dramatic event repeated once again recently during the selection of countries to join the UN Security Council. Ethiopia scored very high; 185 out of 190. This type of confidence given to a nation and most importantly to an African nation is simply unprecedented and unheard of. Again out of those five nations who did not choose Ethiopia, Senegal: a nation of the Great African leader Senghor was one of them in addition to the usual hostile countries namely Egypt (Military Dictatorship), Saudi Arabia and Qatar (Feudal and Medieval states), and Eritrea (Rogue state) but why Senegal? The Great Senghor would have wept if he was alive and witnessed the behavior of the incumbent Senegalese government

Nobody was surprised with the action of the four (Eritrea, Egypt, S. Arabia and Qatar). In fact, it would have been big surprise if they have voted otherwise taking into account their inherent hostile stand towards Ethiopia. What is puzzling and saddening is the unholy and un-African stand and action of the Senegalese government. This behavior is not a onetime incident but a shameful action repeated time and again by the incumbent Senegalese government. Can this be because of the short sight leadership of the government in order to secure some unholy political and possibly financial gains from oil wealthy Arab nations save Egypt and Eritrea. I am sure the great Senegalese people do not support their governments stand unless they are not duly aware of the issue in question so what is going on with the land of the Great Senghor? And, what is going on with the incumbent Senegalese government?

The futile attempt put forward by the Senegalese government to move the AU from Addis Ababa to Sirte (the birth place of the late Libyan dictator and Godfather of the current Senegalese leadership was easily foiled by the wise and far-sighted decision of the African leaders. Had the Senegalese proposal been considered and had the AU been moved to Sirte (currently the center of ciaos, lawlessness, anarchy and a play ground of ISIS), it is not difficult to imagine what would have happened to the (AU): our historic organization.

From the very outset of the formation of the UN, Ethiopia has an excellent and unwavering track record with the UN.  Ethiopia is the only African nation that became a founding member of the League of Nation.  Later on, Ethiopia fought for the independence of all African nations during colonialism when all African nations except Ethiopia and Liberia were independent.  Ethiopian army trained and armed the then freedom fighters of Angola, Zimbabwe and South Africa among others.  Mandela of South Africa and Mugabe of Zimbabwe who later on became presidents of their respective nations are among those who benefited from military training by Ethiopian military trainers. Those nations were struggling to achieve their independence against colonial powers. Even then, the Ethiopian army contributed to help many African countries that were not fortunate enough to be independent.

Ethiopia’s peace keeping mission under the auspices of the UN is simply unparalleled; only second and first in female peace keeping mission in the world. Ethiopia’s peace keeping mission in Ruanda, Liberia, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia is exemplary least to say. Ethiopia’s track record in that regard is simply outstanding.  In every UN peace-keeping mission contingency the heroic Ethiopian Defense Forces has been deployed, it showed solid courage, commitment, discipline, humanity and confidence and became a pride of our people.  This is because Amongst the many and varied characteristics that make our beautiful nation truly unique and special is the great and historic legacy and current commitment, dedication and humane nature which has characterized and become an identity of our Heroic Defense Force. This modern defense force has gentle and humane character. The Ethiopian Defense Force has an impeccable reputation for humanity, neutrality, commitment, heroism both at home and abroad. These unique character of our heroic defense Force is demonstrated time and again in many African countries; Rwanda, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia among others with utmost discipline and unparalleled heroism. The heroic Ethiopian Defense Force still maintains an excellent reputation on those characters by those respective governments but most importantly by the people of those countries not only as a united Nation’s peace keeping mission but most importantly for caring, for neutrality and for humanity. For that, our Defense Force has been decorated with various international medals and was awarded with high level recognitions and acknowledgments from those countries and from the United Nations for the excellent services rendered to those governments and peoples. This phenomenon was also demonstrated during the United Nation’s peace keeping mission in The Sudan and in South Sudan. Here, both countries agreed to have the Ethiopian Defense Force as the only peace keeping mission to be deployed within their territory in order to help them settle their political problem in Abyie.  Here, it is important to note the historical decision of the UN Security Council where it unanimously authorized the deployment of only Ethiopian Defense Force in Abyie at the request of both the Sudan and South Sudan. Both nations  agreed and put full trust and confidence of a neighboring Defense Force entering their country as a neutral body to help settle differences and to keep those conflicting armies calm. This is simply unprecedented and unheard of anywhere else in the world thus far. No other country has done that except the trusted Ethiopian Defense Force. What a unique trust from two opposite factions! Could there be further testimony than this to the impartiality, neutrality and above all to the principled stance of the Ethiopian Defense Force. They simply have made a shining history that makes all of Africans very proud.

Also in Somalia, our Defense force has played a pivotal role in fighting terrorism and bringing peace and stability to the people of Somalia who for many years were longing for peace and stability in the country. Here too, the Ethiopian Defense Force is praised both by the United Nations, the government of Somalia and most importantly by the people of Somalia for a job well done. Therefore, not only Ethiopians but also all Africans should be very proud of those wonderful achievements of our heroic Defense Force. Those merits that Ethiopia as a nation accumulated over the years are reasons for Africans to select Addis Ababa to be their center for their office during the then OAU and later AU because they see Ethiopia as a symbol of freedom and independence not only for Africa but indeed for the black race.

I believe the people to people relationship between Ethiopia and Senegal is excellent; however, the negative view, attitude and reaction of few Senegalese politicians towards Ethiopia is worth evaluating and needs improvement; therefore, work needs to be done to resolve such unwanted  and unwarranted character. Ethiopians cannot comprehend the rationale behind the recent anti-Ethiopian stance and cannot understand the Senegalese government’s behavior except understanding that that nation has been joining with the unholy allegiance driven by few politicians’ financial benefits.

Yesterday it was with the issue of the AU, today it happened with the issue of the Security Council; one wonders what will be tomorrow. when will this hostility end? What wrong did Ethiopia do to deserve this repeated hostility from the country it considers as her African ally?


Leave a Reply