Photo 005 – Le vieux
I live in the street Felix Houphouet-Boigny in Dakar. The name was very familiar but I had to google it to appreciate the fact that I was residing under the good omen of a great African leader. He was “le vieux” (the old one) or papa Houphouet for the Ivorians. Like many interesting leader, he was not the product of a party system instead he was a doctor, an administrator, a unionist and ultimately, a politician…He was elected as a parliamentarian in France and became the principal enabler of the French decolonisation in Africa. He was a moderate leader who led the economical rise and influence of the Ivory Coast.
You cannot be an African leader without being part of few coups d’Etat and he was in 1966 and 1977 in Burkina Faso. He was a fervent anti-communist when Africa was seduced by Moscow and inspired by Cuba. The West liked him and his nickname was the “sage of Africa”. So wise, that the UNESCO created a Peace prize in his homage.
Africa has a rich history. The question is what the continuity of this history will look like at the dawn of the 21st century. I am wondering if during my chapter of life in this continent, I will witness the coming of a new generation of enlightened African leaders…
Mandela said during his inaugural address in 1994, “Our single most important challenge is therefore to help establish a social order in which the freedom of the individual will truly mean the freedom of the individual. We must construct that people-centred society of freedom in such a manner that it guarantees the political liberties and the human rights of all our citizens.”
Where are the “papa Houphouet” and the Madiba of the future? I am sure that many Africans are asking themselves the same question.