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The Art of Crushing Little People

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The crazy circus of last week, accompanied by scattered demonstrations, during a hearing of Ousmane Sonko and MameMbaye Niang for a defamation lawsuit, had, like all street fury, its collateral damage. Many little people have seen their shops burnt down, their canteens ransacked and their livelihoods destroyed. We will have to dwell on the fate of these ordinary citizens, dragging the devil by the tail, who get caught up in the torment of the clashes of our politicians and their hordes of looters and thugs.

The ordinary Senegalese saw all their belongings go up in smoke. Owners of taverns have been stripped of their working tools, businesses destroyed. What is this art of always affecting the Goorgoorlu and those who fight day to day? What is the political project to destroy precarious or survival jobs? It is ironic to want to champion social justice by crushing little people and all little hands. Beyond stripping people of their dignity by destroying their property, they are condemned to live uncertain days that no illusory promise from a politician can solve. We were indignant at the mad joy of destroying public property in these same columns.

These days, with all the disorder in our country, I enjoy reading La Maison du peuple by Louis Guilloux. He said prophetically in 1927, before World War II, that everyone had an obligation to the truth. “We must denounce what is not right. Telling the truth is a difficult task, but the only one worthy of a man,” maintained Guilloux. These lines should be read to many people under our skies. To see the hopes of people to whom everything is due dashed by the fury of militants of any political cause, merits that hundreds of people’s houses be built to extend a generous and compassionate hand.

The Minister of the Interior, Antoine Diome, tried this exercise by meeting a young man whose telephone shop was ransacked by looters. He affirmed that the State will be firm to ensure the protection of people and property. This gesture would be well deserved by the owner of a tavern in Keur Gorgui whose tears of despair after the passage of looters have gone viral. She deserves help and support, because people like them, who live by the sweat of their brow and the pain of their breath, are legion in our informal sector.

If there is one art that this country has mastered as a national community, it is « the art of ignoring the poor », to quote John Kenneth Galbraith, who explained so well the « process by which, over the years, and even over the centuries, we have undertaken to spare ourselves any bad conscience” about the most deprived.

We are ready to launch a kitty to buy a car from activists or pay the legal fees of politicians quick to outrage and repeat offences, but we are absent subscribers to help owners of small businesses grieving by the madness of our politics. There is no lack of instruments of popular and civic solidarity, but we still have to force ourselves to do so.

We cannot believe in politicians who do everything to deprive people of their pledge of dignity which is working. We must spare no effort to fight all these impostors to whom the misery of the little people only feeds their ambitions and their projects, to ultimately disappoint the masses. An acquaintance always tells me that the Senegalese elite, like the society that gave birth to it, has always had a predatory logic.

They make the mass their stepping stone, carries their children high, crush everything that does not converge with their interests. Building a political project on the ruins and pains of the little people has ended up being a well-established mechanism in Senegal. The impostors who know how to testify so well, without ever having had their throats cut, smear themselves with the tears of the people to the delight of their disastrous project.

Albert Camus told Louis Guilloux in a correspondence dated January 5, 1946: “What balances the absurd is the community of men in struggle against it. And if we choose to serve this community, we choose dialogue until the absurd – against any policy of lies or silence.” In the fight against these merchants of illusion who have finished humiliating all the little people, we will never get tired.

By Serigne Saliou DIAGNE / saliou.diagne@lequotidien.sn

  • Translation by Ndey T. SOSSEH

 

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