Monday, 15 October 2018

Casamance The Untold Story (Part.10)

In 1907, Galandou Diouf was the first African Originaire elected as Legislator Councilor in Rufisque. In 1914 Blaise Diagne, also an Originaire became the first African to win a seat at the French National Assembly. Diagne subsequently became the most important politician in the four communes. He worked to gain full voting right for the Originaires in 1916. At Diagne's death in 1934, Galandou Diouf succeeded him in the French Assembly. Lamine Gueye, the last Originaire politician in Senegal, replaced him during World War II.

In 1946 Gueye gained voting rights for all African subjects in Senegal, equalizing their status with that of the Originaires. With the Independence of Senegal in 1960, the special rights awarded to the inhabitants of the Four Communes were permanently abolished. (Encyclopedia of African History).

The policy of assimilation was promoted vigorously in the Four Communes of Senegal. The African inhabitants of the Four Communes, called the Originaires, had the status of French citizens and thus were unlike other African inhabitants, who were subjects of the French empire and controlled by the Code de l’IndigĂ©nat or the Colonial penal code.

On Christmas day 25th December 1982, there was a mass demonstration by MFDC led by one Alieu Ceesay Badjie, a retired military sergeant from Thionk Ecile, and Salif Sadio of Kartiath calling for the independence of Casamance whose population is religiously and ethnically distinct from the rest of Senegal.

At the time of the demonstration Diamacoune was not in attendance and when the leader of the movement Alieu Ceesay Badjie was shot and killed by the Senegalese security forces, the rest of the revolutionaries ran into the bush and regrouped in the border along Guinea Bissau and Salif Sadio became the Commander in Chief of MFDC.

Diamacoune Senghore did not take part in the said demonstration but he later managed to established contact with the revolutionaries in the bush whose aim was to liberate Casamance for independence. The composition of the armed separatist movement has the hallmarks of an ethnic conflict given fact that the separatists are mainly from the Jola ethnic in a region which is comprised of multiple ethnic groups. This can be attributable to the fact that the Jolas are the dominant group in Casamance and yet the most marginalized, but it also points to the fact that there was no broad consensus in the so-called claim for independence among the various ethnic group and even within the Jola ethnic group there was no broad support and therefore the armed separatists resort to terrorizing communities that do not support them. The deliberate attack on non-Jolas especially Wollof of the North also contributed to the dwindling support among the population of Casamance.

The movement also got support from the Guinea Military top brass some of whom were engaged in illicit drug trafficking. The MFDC support the former Guinean Chief of Staff, General Ansumana Mane during the power struggle which ousted President Nino Vierra and brought Anusmana Manneh to power.

The assassination of General Ansumana Mane by Kumba Yalla marked a turning point in support and sustenance of the MFDC because Kumba Yalla drove the movement out of their base in Guinea Bissau. This weakened the movement and divided the MFDC into small faction scattered in mainly the borders of The Gambia and some still at the Bissau border.

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