Anyone who has spent time in Dakar knows how lively the Corniche, or coastal beaches and cliffs that make up the western limits of the Senegalese capital, become in the evenings. University students taking a break from their reading at nearby Cheikh Anta Diop University, women gesturing as they walk together, and young men getting off work all flock to the sidewalks and beaches there to run, lift weights, and stroll along the sidewalks as the ocean brings in some cool evening air. However, this public space is at risk from what activists are calling the “wall of shame”–an unfinished wall built to mark the construction of the new Turkish Embassy. The parallels between the campaigns of Senegalese activists against the wall in Dakar and the protests in Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park cannot be ignored.
In a democratic society, how many times should an individual, particularly a standard flag-bearer, run for the presidency? At what point is the defeated individual’s attempts to run for office a personal attempt to accumulate power or simply a strong conviction that he or she is the right person to lead the country forward? Furthermore, what does that individual think of the judgment and will of the people if they have rejected his or her overtures twice?
Mauritanian rapper, Hamzo Bryn, released a music video, “It started from Nouakchott” via his facebook page in September of 2013. The conversations that were sparked by the music video about correct Islamic practice, cultural norms, race, generational differences, and national identity were already happening in Mauritania but reached a new level of importance after the appearance of this video. As one Mauritanian blogger wrote forebodingly, this video signaled a moment when Mauritanian youth could decide what kind of future nation they want but, also, a time when the coming tensions would not be between Islam and the West but between Muslims themselves debating this future and this nation.