The following is an abridged e-mail sent by a Senegalese woman and health activist to friends. It gives an uncensored view of George W. Bush’s Africa visit.
DAKAR, Senegal – [Bush’s] visit has been such an ordeal that a petition is being circulated for July 8 to be named “Dependency Day.” Let me share with you what we have been through:
• more than 1,500 persons have been arrested and put in jail
• The U.S. Army’s planes fly day and night over Dakar. The noise they make is so loud one hardly sleeps at night.
• About 700 security people from the U.S. [arrived] in Senegal, with their dogs and cars. Senegalese security forces were not allowed to come near the U.S. president. All trees [in Bush’s path], some more than 100 years old, were cut.
• All roads going downtown (where hospitals, businesses, schools are located) were closed. This means we could not go to [work or classes]. Sick people were also obliged to stay at home.
Bush’s visit to the Goree Island is another story. As you may know, Goree is a small island facing Dakar, where from the 15th to the 19th centuries, the African slaves, to be shipped to America, were parked in special houses. One house is a museum to remind humanity about this dark period. Kings, queens and presidents have visited there, including Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, Nelson Mandela and the Pope, without bothering the islanders. But this time, the local population was chased out of their houses from 5 to 12 a.m. They were forced by American security to leave everything open to be searched by special dogs brought from the U.S.
Only Bush spoke when he was in Goree, [not our president]. It seems he needs the vote of African Americans to be elected. That’s why he visited Goree.
Other humiliating things happened. [Bush] did not want to use our things. He brought his own armchairs, cars, meals and drinks. He came with his own journalists and ours were forbidden to go [near him].
Several protest marches were organized. We have the feeling everything has been done to convince us that we are nothing, and America can behave the way it wants everywhere, even in our country.
Believe me it is a terrible feeling. But according to a Ugandan friend, I should not complain because in Uganda, Bush did not go out of the airport. He received the Ugandan president in the airport lounge.
Nevertheless, I think I am lucky, because I have such wonderful American friends. But there are thousands of Senegalese who believe all Americans think the world is their territory.