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June 25, 2009


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Dennis Brennan

My understanding of the West African economy is pretty much non-existent, but can't the low level of international trade among the West African countries also be explained by most of them being cash-crop economies?

Doug M.

That's a big part of it, sure. But Senegal has some basic industries -- cement, processed foods like canned tomatoes, food products like peanut oil. You'd think they'd find some markets around the region.

There's an inland city in Senegal called Tambacounda -- you drive from Dakar to Kaolack and keep going, yah? Well, someone said to us that "it's easier to import corn and beef from Brazil, 4,000 km across the Atlantic, than to bring it from Tambacounda, 500 km inland."

Doug M.


Last odds and ends about Senegal.

They don't like W. Senegalese, without an exception I could find, don't like George W. Bush. The reason is simple: he paid a visit there in 2003, and it was a disaster. This was just after the Iraq invasion, and basically the whole city of Dakar had to be shut down. He went out to the island of Goree to make a speech, and all of the people who lived there -- a thousand or so -- were taken off for a day. Security, right?


"Popular in Africa: Bush has given more aid than any other US president"

[T]here is another, perhaps more important, reason for President Bush's week-long visit to Africa: people actually like him here.

A recent report from the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that "the US image is much stronger in Africa than in other regions of the world". At least 80 per cent of respondents in Ghana, Kenya and Cote d'Ivoire were favourable to the US. In all other sub-Saharan African countries polled, there were more "favourables" than "non-favourables".


Unpopular at home, Bush basks in African praise


Both articles are from 2008. I rather doubt that Bush's popularity has collapsed in just one year, especially since he hasn't been in office for the last 6+ months.

But, hey. Let's not go basing our beliefs on recent scientific polling data. No, six-year old articles from Marxist rags and anecdotes from non-random samples have much higher validity, amiright?

I mean, it's simply not possible that the people you spoke to there were just telling a leftist 0bama fanboy American what he wanted to hear out of basic politeness.


This link - http://pewglobal.org/database/?indicator=1&country=194 - has data specific to Senegal. The US had a 69% favourable rating in 2007. Americans had a 67% favourable rating in 2007. Nearly 40% had confidence in Bush, specifically. Over 40% supported the "Global War On Terror". But less than 20% supported the NATO occupation of Afghanistan.

Hmmm. Maybe if Bush had wanted to increase his popularity in Senegal (which, as everyone knows, is a supremely important goal of every US President), he should have withdrawn all US forces from Afghanistan.

I wonder if 0bama's attempt to duplicate the success of Bush's "surge" in Iraq with his own mini-surge in Afghanistan has cost him much support on the all-important Senegalese street?


"BTW, head scarves are very rare, and veils are unknown. Senegalese women tend to dress up. Younger women mostly wouldn't look out of place in Paris; older women tend towards caftans and muu-muu like things. The general level of stylishness is high."

I suppose when your clitoris and labia have been cut off and your vagina sewn shut - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_genital_cutting#Prevalence - then all you have left for enjoyment is playing dress up.

Doug M.

Ed, you seem to have a bug up about something. That's fine, but keep in mind that this is a private blog. Play nice, please.

Senegalese and W: /without exception/, every Senegalese had something bad to say about George Bush. It came up at random about halfway through my stay, but the reaction was strong enough that I made a point of mentioning it to see what would happen.

The Senegalese I met had no trouble distinguishing between the US (generally favorable, sure enough) and its last President (nobody liked him). I suspect part of the problem was that Bill Clinton set the bar too high with his 1990s visit to Ghana. Clinton he worked the crowd so hard that the Secret Service was terrified for his safety; he dived into the masses, shook thousands of hands, and narrowly avoided heat stroke. The Senegalese were expecting something like this, and were nonplussed to find that nobody below the rank of Minister was going to be allowed anywhere near.

Leftist Obama fanboy: see, this is the sort of thing that makes me just want to say "fuck along, Ed" and delete you. But since you're new here, you get one bye.

Part of the reason I'm in this line of work is that I like hearing what the world has to say. So I try not to prime the pump with my own opinions. In general, I don't say a word about US politics, other than in the broadest terms ("we had an election last year. Did people here follow it much?") until the local has laid out his or her opinion.

FGM: okay, what exactly is the point of this? That the Senegalese are eeevil baby-girl-mutilating-Muslims, whose dislike of W. only serves to validate his essential goodness? Or are you just upset at the suggestion that Africans could be smart and stylish?

Anyway. If you'd bothered actually researching, instead of looking at wikipedia, you'd have found that the prevalence of FGM in Senegal, while still unacceptably high, has been falling steadily since the 1980s. The Wolof -- the biggest ethnic group, with about 40% of the population -- have pretty much given it up, as have the urban inhabitants. The current prevalence is estimated at around 20%, but still falling -- about half of what it was a generation ago.

The last two governments have come out firmly against the practice; Senegal's Ministry of Health has been conducting anti-FGM campaigns since the early 1990s. The government has publicly stated that it wants to eliminate FGM completely by 2015. I think that's overly optimistic, myself, but there's no question that they're trying.

Whoops, sorry -- am I putting facts in the way of your rant? My bad.

Doug M.

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