African News

Wade in new dispute after acquiring Senghor’s house

By Frederic Tendeng
Senegal’s President, Maître Abdoulaye Wade, is the new proprietor of Les Dents de la Mer, the residence that used to belong to Senegal’s first president, Léopold Sédar Senghor. The Senegalese president disbursed CFA 750 million to acquire the late Senghor’s mansion which is located in Dakar’s upper-crust area of Fann Residence. Preside Wade’s move has however sparked another controversy with many Senegalese considering his acquisition of the mansion as illegal and immoral as he has long been suspected of taking desperate strive towards shadowing Leopold Sédar Senghor’s legacy. This belief gained an even higher momentum in Senegal when on Wednesday the Senegalese president attacked the late Senghor father of Senegal’s independence, and Abdou Diouf, Wade’s immediate predecessor, describing them as ‘‘predators’’ who were only after Senegal’s riches. Wade was inaugurating a phosphate deposit in the northern region of Matam, about 693 kilometres from Dakar. With the purchase of this house, the octogenarian leader has undoubtedly gratified his desperate desire to be the undisputed inheritor of President Senghor, as he has always strongly claimed. President Wade, who was never Senghor’s companion but his fierce political opponent, did not hesitate to make such a claim at the state funeral held in tribute of the late president in December 2001. La Gazette, one of the most credible news magazines in Dakar, revealed on Saturday that it was agreed during a cabinet council meeting that the late Senghor’s house be acquired by the State of Senegal, and as such, be made to remain a National Heritage. During the said meeting, many ministers considered the need to acquire the late president’s mansion by the state as one way to permanently preserve and honor the cultural and international achievements of Leopold Sédar Senghor, a writer and poet who fought for the recognition and respect of African civilization and culture around the world. The late president’s house is even regarded as a museum and a symbol of contemporary history in the minds of many Senegalese who still view him affectionately. Many teachers come regularly to the site with their students to visit the house even though policemen guarding it having been ordered to keep people away. There is no clear indication as to how President Abdoulaye Wade managed to short-circuit his cabinet decision and acquire the property but clear evidence exists to prove that the Senegalese head of state has covered his transaction when Ms. Collette Senghor, widow of the late Leopold Sédar Senghor, is suffering from Alzheimer’s, while her son, Francis Senghor, the only heir of the couple, is suffering from mental disorders. When they learned about President Wade’s acquisition of Les Dents de la Mer, the Léopold Sédar Senghor Foundation, an association created in 1964, now run by his nephew Basile Senghor, expressed “surprise and incomprehension”. The management of the Foundation has since addressed a letter to the Senegalese head of state, requesting disposition of the house. The letter further summoned Wade to clarify his intentions on Léopold Sédar Senghor’s mansion. The Senegalese Head of State has however not yet replied to the Foundation.

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