Senegal, April 2010
State visit to the Republic of Senegal
April 14 - 17, 2010
I am looking forward to renewing my dialogue with the women, men and youth of Africa, which is the cradle of humanity, yet has been so cruelly mistreated by history. I will be there as a number of countries celebrate the 50th anniversary of their independence after decades of colonization. Political autonomy, successful identity and cultural recovery—Africa is now being urged to lead a new revolution that is social, economic and democratic in nature. Social revolution: because the dream is to see the people escape their daily miseries, endemic poverty, epidemics, illiteracy, insecurity and conflicts. Economic revolution: for an economy that works for the greater good, for human and sustainable development that makes education and training a priority; a fairer economy that will put an end to the abusive exploitation of resources and labour, and further attract responsible investment; an economy that favours all forms of co-operation that could help African countries enter international markets in a more competitive way. Democratic revolution: in the spirit of good governance—inclusive, transparent, responsible—and of the state of law, which guarantees justice and security for all, as well as political alternation.
— Michaëlle Jean, April 13, 2010.
Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, undertook State visits to the Republic of Senegal, from April 14 to 17, 2010. A delegation of Canadians working in a variety of fields, including governance, women’s rights, journalism, arts and culture, civic engagement, and youth accompanied the Governor General.
She was welcomed by His Excellency Maître Abdoulaye Wade, President of Senegal, with whom she then met to discuss Canada-Senegal relations. Her Excellency was later the guest of honour at a state dinner given by the President at the Palace of the Republic, in Dakar (video).
During the visit, the Governor General also delivered remarks at Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar on the role of the media in the emergence of a new Africa, followed by a panel discussion and audience participation.
She then travelled to Gorée Island, a powerful reminder of the African slave trade and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on board the presidential launch La Signare. A welcoming ceremony organized by the Gorée town hall marked her arrival. She took the opportunity to visit the Henriette Bathily Women’s Museum, where she took part in a discussion with Senegalese women known for their community involvement (video).
In order to meet with representatives of Senegalese society firsthand, the Governor General talked with women and men who have successfully developed their own small businesses through micro credit, contributing to Senegal's prosperity.
Finally, an Art Matters forum was held on the role of the arts as a tool for intervention and social change, attended by Canadian delegates, experts and artists of the country.
Visit to a Savings Union
Her Excellency visited a PAMÉCAS (partnership for mobilizing savings and credit in Senegal). This savings and credit union, which now has 36 branches, was established through support from CIDA and Développement international Desjardins.
Following a brief visit, the Governor General spoke with women who started up their businesses with the help of micro-credit. The Governor General then walked through the Ouakam District and met the merchants.
Art Matters in Dakar
The Governor General and members of the Canadian delegation from the cultural community took part in an Art Matters forum along with Senegalese arts and culture representatives. The social role of the artist was discussed. Panelists included Senegalese arts and culture representatives as well as Canadian representatives. The discussion took place at Village des arts, in Dakar.
"This is our way of practising what we call cultural diplomacy, for in these times of uncertainty and a crisis of values, we are still convinced that culture is essential to civilization, which calls us as human beings to better understand ourselves and celebrate our differences as so many singular contributions to the heritage of humanity, to more effectively lay the foundations of a better world, and to further aspire to that civilization of the universal that Léopold Sédar Senghor dreamed of," explained the Governor General regarding Art Matters forum.
On the initiative of documentary maker Jean-Daniel Lafond, husband of the Governor General, Art Matters was designed expressly as a place for speaking, sharing and reflecting on issues affecting the key sector of arts and culture.
- Blog: Embracing Africa once again, by Her Excellency Michaëlle Jean, April 13, 2010 (PDF)
- State Dinner, Dakar, Senegal, April 15, 2010 (PDF)
- Roundtable on the Role of the Media in the Emergence of a New Africa, Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal, April 16, 2010 (PDF)
- Art Matters Forum on the Social Role of the Artist, Dakar, Senegal, April 17, 2010 (PDF)
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