It is High Time for Africans to Respect Themselves and to Demand They be Respected by Others

Bousso DraméAfricans are rising and the world better be ready for it. There’S a new crop of Africans, that don’t believe in the “heaven” called the west, neither to they worship the fallen colonial master. Is the world ready for this African who speaks out for her rights and dismisses western ideologies in favour of her own “african” ones? Is the world ready for an Africa that makes its own decision without necessarily begging for aid?

This lady has been making headlines in most if not all Francophone newspapers. The Africans are applauding while the french ask what the fass is all about. You wonder the reason why? Let me tell you.

This young senegalese lady, Bousso Dramé, took part in one of the competitions hosted by the Alliance Francaise in Senegal and won. This was the beginning of drama. She won an all expense paid trip to France to attend a training, and considering the schedule was so tight during the training, she requested for a few days extra to visit France and meet with relatives and friends.

The madness began when she had to go to the Embassy and apply for the visa, the workers at the Embassy were so rude and she decided not only to refuse to take part in the whole exercise but also to give them a piece of her mind. She wrote a letter and addressed it to the French Consulate in Senegal. According to her, she wasn’t ready to keep up with the bad treatment that many other Senegalese people had undergone before getting their visas. She says, it’s a habit that has developed over time whereby all visa applicants are treated as suspects and are disrespected.

Below is a translation of the letter she wrote courtesy of Africa Is a Country, I have highlighted some of the issue that resonated most with me. What do you think of the letter? Would you have written it? Do you think it’s about it someone spoke out about this continued mistreatment of Africans who apply for visas? Let me know in the comment section below


Open letter to the French consular and diplomatic authorities in Senegal: No, thank you.

To His Excellency the Consul-General, To the Director of the French Institute of Senegal,

My name is Bousso Dramé and I am a Senegalese citizen who, on this day, has decided to put pen to paper so that a message that I care deeply about can be heard loud and clear.

Out of interest for the language of Molière, I decided last April to take part in the 2013 National Spelling Competition organized by the French Institute as part the Francophonie Prizes. The competition brought together a few hundred candidates, aged 18 to 35, in the French Institutes of Dakar and Saint-Louis as well as the French Alliances of Kaolack and Ziguinchor. After some written dueling about an excerpt of L’Art Français de la Guerre [The French Art of War] by Alexis Jenni, which received the 2011 Goncourt Prize, I had the honor to be declared the winner of said competition. I was rewarded with a Dakar-Paris-Dakar flight ticket and a CultureLab training in documentary film-making at the Albert Schweitzer Centre.

During my short life, while being open as the citizen of the world that I am, I have never ceased to defend my pride of being a Black and African woman. It goes without saying that I absolutely believe in the bright future of my dear Africa. I am equally convinced of the necessity to put an end to prejudices that prevailed about Africans and Africa due to the colonial era and the difficult contemporary situation of this continent. It is high time for Africans to respect themselves and to demand they be respected by others. This vision of a certainly generous and open, but also proud and determined, Africa, demanding the respect that it is owed and that it has been denied for far too long, is a strong conviction of mine that enables me and literally carries me forward.

However, during my numerous interactions with, on the one hand, some staff members of the French Institute and, on the other hand, civil servants at the French Consulate, I have had to deal with conscending, insidious, sly and vexating behaviors and remarks. Not once, nor twice but multiple times! I have really tried to ignore these behaviors but the appalling welcome I have been greeted with at the French Consulate (a “welcome”endured by most fellow Senegalese applying for visas) has been the last straw that, unfortunately, broke the camel’s back.

As an authentic individual who does not know how to cheat, a difficult but necessary decision became an obvious one for me. An all-expenses-paid trip, even the world’s most beautiful and enchanting one, is not worth the suffering that my fellow citizens and myself endure from the French Consulate. No matter how exciting the training, and God knows this one really appealed to me, it is not worth the pain of enduring these kinds of behavior unfortunately widespread under African skies. As a matter of coherence with my own value system, I have, therefore, decided to renounce that offer, despite being granted a visa.

Renounce symbolically. Renounce in the name of those thousands of Senegalese who deserve respect, a respect they are being denied within the walls of these French representations, and on Senegalese soil moreover.

This decision is not a sanction against individuals but against a generalized system which, despite the ever-increasing list of complaints from my fellow citizens, does not seem inclined to question itself.

Furthermore, I find it particularly ironic that the partial headline of the training that I will not attend reads: “Is France still the homeland of human rights? To what point are French citizens also European cizens and cizitens of the world?” It would be, without a doubt, an interesting subject for a documentary shot from an African perspective and I hope that I will have the chance, by way of other means, to participate in a CultureLab training in the future.

I shall thank the French Institute nonetheless, for this competition initiative, which in my opinion deserves to continue to exist, and even to be held more frequently in order to stimulate the intellectual emulation between young Senegalese and for the pleasure of those who love the French language, among which I count myself.

To the lady clerk at the France Consulate’s visa counter – I do not know your name, but regarding that visa that I will not be using, let me tell you: no, thank you.

Proudly, sincerely and Africanly yours,

Bousso Dramé.

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