Found a beautif…

28 Feb


Found a beautiful mixtape inspired by protests around the world. Thanks Okayplayer!

It’s the end of black history month…and our melanin levels have not decreased.

Hope you all have a productive day.

DAMA GUM CA MA BOP to our oncles, aunts, brothers and sisters in Dakar.




still ways to go

28 Feb

still ways to go

still ways to go

Brother Gnoknobaye Diouf on the Political Situation in Senegal.

25 Feb
Got word from friend and activist Gnoknobaye Diouf today with regards to the tension in Dakar what with the upcoming elections.  I will let him speak for himself…stay tuned as he and other Senegalese civilians keep us updated on what’s going on in Dakar.
 Du courage.
Depuis le 23 Juin 2011, les sénégalais se sont levés comme un seul homme pour dire non à la fameuse loi sur le ticket présidentiel qui consistait à faire voter à l’assembléee nationale, une loi qui permettrait au président Wade de nommer son fils vice président; pour ensuite le laisser diriger le pays.
A l’issu d’une manifestation devant les grilles du parlement des jeunes du mouvement <<Y’EN A MARRE>> et des jeunes des partis de l’opposition et l’intervention des autorités réligieuses. Le président Wade a fait machine arriére.
Le président sortant: Wade, avait bloqué le nombre de mandat présidentiel à 2 mandats dans la constitution, et avait meme anoncé dans les médias nationaux et internationaux, qu’il ne briguera pas de second mandat. Mais comme le president Wade est connu comme un adepte des volts faces politiques. Il a opéré sans surprise un virage à 100 degré, pour anoncer sa candidature pour 2012. Ce qui a révolté l’opposition et le mouvement Y’EN A MARRE; qui ont manifesté pacifiquement sous la baniére: touche pas à ma costitution, Wade dégage. Malheureusement, ces manifestations ont occasionné des morts d’hommes, avec des policiers qui ont tiré à balles réelles sur les manifestants. Le conseil constitutionnel dont les membres sont només par Wade ont validé sa candidature en trahissant le peuple sénégalais pour des intéréts personnels: salaire de 5 millions de FCFA, limousine etc.
De toutes les façons, les éléctions du 26 Février n’augurent pas des lendemains meilleurs.
A suivre, Wait and see.

Brother Diouf

Gnokhobaye Diouf
   Paysan Noir

Lets talk about ‘Food Sovereignty’

18 Jan

Whilst in Senegal, I participated in an interview and discussed my views and how I felt about the issue in which we were faced. I tried my best to explain my perspective in French. Please bare with me… 🙂

A drawing, a journey

5 Jan

Ok, ’bout time I write this I think… (How about long overdue, Sydnee?) ok, yes I KNOW, but I was kind of hung up with Med School which turned out be a far cry from a joke (who knew, right?)

This blog is about something I did in Senegal that I take great pride in having done, not only because it actually came together when I wasn’t sure it would, but because of how the impact outlasted my stay.
We were often told to not be naïve about how deeply we would impact the Dakar community. Afterall, 60 days is nothing to even realise where you are, let alone pose an action, and even less a durable one.

However, when I first ran a workshop teaching some 50 children about the Right to Food, an insuppressable good feeling of having felt like I did “something” slowly grew on me. In Dakar I ran two workshops in which 30-50 children listened as I did a little 20 minute spiel about the goals of ANORF (the African Network on the Right to Food). Right to food, Food Sovereignty, the importance of consuming locally, the benefits of family agriculture and rooftop gardens. Will they remember something of it other than some chick with a weird accent made them sit through class during their summer time? They most certainly… might!

You see, I didn’t just make them sit and listen. They were looking at comic strips depicting the concepts in a simplified way. bam. I spent the first half of this sub-project planning out how to convey abstract concepts liking buying Senegalese to promote the economy. With the help of Seydou Ndiaye of our host organisation and consulting around to see if the cultural references I was making made ANY sense (eg: The kids in panel 1.3 are playing traditional Senegalese wrestling, right? They are not fighting). I then drew them out. Knowing the value of a quiet room and a working crayon kind of came into play.

So while I was talking to the older children of the workshops (12 years old –ish) the younger could look at the comic drawings. And after, all could start colouring (the pictures were just lines)! And then they could take the material home to keep! Showing to whoever was at home and keeping for when they are older. Ok so it may be a bit of a stretch, but it may just be!

Overall it was a pleasure. I remember waking up the morning of the first workshop and thinking “Who am I to be doing this?” But it wasn’t just me. It was ANORF using the resource I offered. I love drawing. I love kids. So though I spent my time working, it was too awesome. All in all, it was just so opportunistically awesome that our forces came together. This is what I was sent to do / taken in MY direction, and serving both.

So even though now I have that famous picture all people who beg to be awesome have in their Facebook profile picture (the “I have been with cute little smiling African children” picture), I don’t feel ashamed. I feel like those kids in my picture will tomorrow be among those strong Senegalese who stand up for their rights and be tomorrow’s economic competitors –  by the sustained efforts of ANORF and other native centers’ and the Senegalese people’s own zeal for standing up for what they believe is right… movements upon which I had the honor to join if but for a snippet.

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After this experience, its not a question of if I come back to Senegal… but a question of when. I thank Alternatives, RootED, Québec Sans Frontières, ANORF and my team of fellow interns for making it such an emancipating and unforgettable experience.

And now, several months into dreary studying and cold weather, I look back to the (sometimes overly) sunny days and it still brings a smile to my face and heart. But  my passing in Senegal has turned out to be a beginning : before I left, the Kid’s Section Coordinator of the  Cultural Center Blaise Senghor I was working with asked me for a contact with ANORF. I gave it quite easily, thinking “oh its nice to be able to give what  is actually wanted”, I thought the video of the workshop a more grueling give. What came of that contact however was a whole month’s worth of organized daily activities for kids during the last month of their summer holidays! And on top of that, it was themed “Right to Food”!  That just made me feel all that more involved! Not if, but a matter of when…

interview with Mama Diack…Root.ED still on track!

22 Oct

Whether it is taking pictures at a demonstration or recording a conversation, I fervently believe in the importance of documenting the people’s movements. I believe it not just because of my less than stellar memory, but because sharing stories brings about solidarity and solidarity brings about justice. So here is another Root.ED Radio podcast…of a vibrant elder in the Dakar community explaining why she believes urban agriculture and food sovereignty is important in establishing a healthy community. assured that Root.ED is still alive. As coordinator, I can attest to how eye-opening this iniative has been…and I am currently taking some time to strategize on how to make this initiative even more efficient and relevant to the needs of our communities. Root.ED ( like all initiaitves) needs to figure out how best to attain their set objectives and prior to that…check to see if there objectives corresponds to the needs of the people. that is where i am at right now..and I would love to hear from all of you with regards to thoughts, ideas, concerns etc..

stay focused y’all!

Back to Montreal, Back to Reality.

5 Sep

It’s been a little while since you’ve heard from a member of the Senegal 7: Since our return to Montreal, Canada, we’ve been trying to re-organize our lives (job hunting, seeing friends and family, starting school etc…). Also, many of us still miss the rhythm of Senegalese life and the people we met during our stay in Dakar. Here is a glimpse of my post-Senegal experience.

When I was working at Rogers Wireless, I looked forward to the days when I would have the time and leisure to do… nothing at all. Before my Internship in Senegal, my life in Montreal was very hectic; when I wasn’t working, I was in class or studying, or adding the finishing touches on a Living well with HIV booklet I was co-designing with a friend. Weekends were divided up between trainings for my Internship and quality time with friends, family and lover; My plate was always full.
When I left for Africa, I gave my resignation letter to Rogers Wireless, a company for which I was employed for 4 years. My last day of work was bittersweet; I was utterly happy that I would never have to deal with the bureaucratic bullshit, the blatant favoritism and mind numbing work, but I was also sad to let go of my co-workers, and of the safety net Rogers had always provided.
Coming back from Senegal; I promised myself I would find a job that meant something to me, and that would contribute to my future career, as well as my personal growth. The first few days of job searching was depressing; there seemed to be nothing out there that could enthrall me. Re-adjusting back to my life and relationships in Canada seemed harder than I had expected it to be, and all I wanted to do was sleep and reminisce on my summer.
I felt lost without my routine, and my health had taken a toll since I got back; life back home just couldn’t compare to my two month stay in Dakar.
I pressed on with my job search, through the help of a friend and coordinator at Alternatives (the NGO that sent us to Senegal), I was directed to NetFemmes. From there on, I found interesting community work positions and I have sent a couple of CV’s and motivation letters.
Two weeks into my life as ‘unemployed’ has been hard; even though I am yet to be officially broke, the lack of capital flow is a confidence crusher. Even more so, I have so much time on my hands and little motivation, that all the “free” time has become toxic. My lack of motivation could have been brought on my homesickness, and my (lengthy and excruciating) re-adaptation period. That is the irony of it all; I have fallen in love so deeply with Africa, and Senegal, that this country that has been my home for 15 years is only cold earth and snow.
Classes start tomorrow; perhaps they will add a much needed “routine” semblance to my week, and jerk me back into reality. Even writing is a hassle. Senegal, how I miss thee.