Senegal Opens Its Arms to Haiti

From Afrik.com:

The government of Senegal has offered land and reparation settlements to Haitian victims who so wish to live in Senegal, following the devastating earthquake that left over 40 thousand people dead, and hundreds of thousands desolate.

“Senegal is ready to offer them [Haitians] parcels of land – even an entire. If it’s just a few individuals, then we will likely offer them housing or small pieces of land. If they come en masse we are ready to give them a region,” Mr. Mamadou Bemba Ndiaye, Spokesperson to Senegal president, Abdoulaye Wade, was quoted as saying.

President Wade is offering voluntary repatriation to any Haitian that wants to return to Africa. According to the government spokesperson, a fertile portion of land would be given to the Haitians rather than parched desert lands, the Associated Press news agency reported.

Goree Island

Senegal

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Repatriation would be difficult but the gesture along means something.  It might be utopian — where would they be resettled?  how would they get there?  what would happen after then and after then? — but this offers a vision and hope.  Symbolism does matter.  Even for Haitians to know that they do not stand alone in this crisis has value.

I take issue with those who say that Haitians are only interested in moving to Toronto and Miami.  Like most of us, they are interested in going to long-established communities where there are friends, family members, and support.  Contemplating leaving home – no matter how bad it is, no matter how hopeless the situation – requires a great deal of human capital and initiative.

So my hat is off to President Abdoulaye Wade.  I have issues with his tenure.  Those issues remain.  But in extending a hand to Haiti, President Wade has made an historically significant gesture.  We must remember that Haiti, alone, is the single nation born of a slave revolt. It fought for emancipation and independence at a time when many didn’t dare dream of those possibilities.  At one time, Haiti offered a place to all formerly enslaved Africans.  Karma, indeed.

We and all of our children must know that the African diaspora can and does reach out to help itself.

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About liftingasweclimb

Mildred Lewis writes and directs for theater, television, film and the web. She's also a full time professor, Christian, activist and troublemaker with a passion to save as much of the world as she can.
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