(I’ve mixed in a few news reports with the blog roundup this week, given the importance of several stories.)
Africa Is A Country on Senegal’s First Lady Marieme Faye Sall:
Joyce Banda of Malawi, the newest President of an African country–and only the second sitting African president who is a woman–is getting all the love for her achievements.* (So what if her ascendency came about due to the death of an aging president and his politically weak, colluding brother?). There is also much chatter on the internet about Malawi’s new First Gentleman, retired Chief Justice Richard Banda (with whom Madame Banda has two children). However, the Senegalese might suggest that their country’s new first lady, Marieme Faye Sall, represents a “bigger” deal in how her move to the presidential palace breaks with Senegal’s political history after independence.
Madame Sall’s husband, Macky Sall, has just been elected as President of Senegal. Her significance lies in the fact that she is the first woman of Senegalese birth and ancestry to become First Lady of Senegal. (Previous First Ladies have either been French or in the case of Madame Diouf of Lebanese descent.) This has made her a sensation, especially amongst Senegalese women; this is the first time they are seeing someone they recognize as one of their own in the presidential palace. Some more poetic accolades for her—within Senegal—have included “daughter of the land,” “a committed housewife,” “real Senegalese lady,” and “future burner of thiouraye (a secret mixture of oils, perfumes, seeds and fragrant wood used as a body [perfume], with an exotic, sweet, spicy, herbal aroma) and harbinger of Africa-ness to the state residence.” Top that if you can, Madame Banda.
Some Senegalese women hope that seeing Madame Sall by the president’s side will send a message to their men: They do not need to be married to a “white” French woman before they achieve success in the country. Another important dimension of her ascendancy is the fact that she is a Muslim. All the three previous First Ladies of Senegal were Christians in a nation that is 90% Muslim. Madame Sall’s carefully constructed story includes her having always been there as a support pillar for her husband, leaving her university studies to tend to his career and well being, and having his children.
Check out the whole piece. The significance of such cultural/political symbolism has been debated on this blog before, and will be again. At the very least it is an interesting set of issues to think about.
Lesley Anne Warner on the coup in Guinea-Bissau.
Electoral campaigning kicks off in Algeria in advance of May 10 parliamentary elections.
Boko Haram’s spokesman assassinated over plans to defect?
The New York Times on art in Senegal, Mali, and Cote d’Ivoire.
Owen Barder, “How Will the UK Cast Its Vote for the World Bank?”
The UK has repeatedly said that it favours merit-based appointments of the heads of the World Bank and IMF. It is also a leading advocate for transparency and accountability in development. Now it can live up to both these commitments.
The UK Executive Director will shortly be casting a vote on behalf of British citizens for the next President of the World Bank. At the beginning of the process it was widely assumed that all the European countries would back Dr Jim Kim, because he is the American nominee. Now that all three candidates have been interviewed by the board, I gather that is no longer being taken for granted.
Chris Blattman writes that “identity has crowded out substance” in the debate over the Bank presidency.
Speaking of Malawi’s new President Joyce Banda, The Economist‘s Baobab says that it “looks like she is off to a good start.”
Dr. Laura Seay, “What’s Next for the DRC?”
In light of a new report from the International Crisis Group on China and South Sudan, Amb. John Campbell assesses the relationship between the two nations. Roving Bandit looks at DFID’s livelihoods program in South Sudan.
What are you reading today?