Poor Haitians! Shaken and buried. Hungry and thirsty and homeless. Hopeless and desperate. Yes, a measure of help did come… But what of next month? Next year?
Then came a most unexpected offer: “Return to your origins.” Come back to Africa. You are welcome in the nation of Senegal.
The Senegalese president himself, Abdoulaye Wade, made the offer of repatriation to any Haitian who wanted to “come back home.” He said, “Senegal is ready to offer parcels of land–even an entire region,” depending on how many Haitians might respond. And not just parched desert land, either. No, he emphasized that his promise was for fertile land.
Some criticized President Wade, calling him a dreamer too quick to propose a lofty project with no possible chance of success. Others, however, insisted he is a true statesman who dares grasp a greater vision for Africa.
After spending the better part of a year and a half on the three books of my current Grace in Africa series–fiction set during the days of the slave trade–the idea of the descendents of those captives returning to the land of their ancestors certainly grabbed my attention. But it’s been so long. And so much has happened. I wondered what the people of Senegal, West Africa, thought of the idea. So I contacted my good friend there, Rene Mbongo. First of all, I asked if the offer had been publicized in Senegal. Then I asked what the Senegalese people thought about their president’s largesse.
Non-scientific results based on one (very knowledgable and well-connected) person: The offer of homes and land in Senegal has indeed gotten quite a bit of press in Senegal. And the population is fine with the idea. But, according to Rene, “We don’t know if it’s a political decision. We don’t see any practical plan that the government gave. We don’t see that it’s capable of that kind of action.” Still, Rene added, “It might be with serious intention. He (Wade) is capable of that kind of action.”
Stay tuned. I’ll let you know as I hear more.
Speaking of Rene Mbongo… he received an informal invitation to go to Haiti to participate in a nuts and bolts practical Vision Conference.
Instruction for Haitians coming from Senegal, West Africa.
Don’t you love it?
“Man’s mind, stretched to a new idea, never goes back to its original dimensions.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes