Sustainable Development in Africa & Satellites - page 17

The Bororo claim their traditional nomadic
culture and identity. Cattle are a source to wealth,
power and prestige. Here, traditional houses near
the Logone river (Chad).
© Association Handicap Santé
Aerial view of Nairobi city centre in Kenya (2011). The name of this city with a population of more than
3 million comes from the Masai ‘Enkare Nyirobi’, which means ‘the place of cool waters‘.
© Siegfried Modola/IRIN
survived the passing of time and subsist
in a continuum through a host of artistic
and cultural expressions.
Africans have revealed themselves over
the years through writing, languages,
sculpture, etc. and continue to affirm
themselves, ‘recreating the world,
expressing themselves with their bodies
and marking in matter the forms formed
in their minds, forms irrigated by beliefs,
myths, heritages…, forms incorporating
the ruins of history and in history’
(A. L. Sall). These forms allow for the
gentleness of the earth and the hope
inscribed in life.
Man and his environment
However, the strong share of the imprint
of landscapes in this cultural blooming
should not hide the implacable role of
geography in explaining them. Space
undoubtedly forms the expression of
a reflection, that of a synchronous
hinging of biophysical factors and human
players in a given environment. And the
environment in question only achieves
optimum balance through the nature
of the treatment inflicted on it through
socioeconomic activities by the players
involved, or even the human societies
From this viewpoint, could it be said that
one of the reasons for the ‘malaise’ in
the African geographical area results
precisely from this absence of balances?
Or rather from the breaking of balances
between man and his environment, from
disparities in the treatment of space, of
environments, of sectors of activity and
of the main players with regard to an
exogenous evolution of contemporary
history that is partially experienced by
Finally, in the ancestral savannah
formerly used by the Arab-Berber
‘azalai’ caravans, missionaries from
other horizons relayed in their civilising
functions by priests of another period,
the only survivor, ‘splendidly solitary’,
seems to be the baobab with its sweet
and sour fruits, an imperturbable relic
but, alas, vulnerable and vegetative, like
an octopus whose tentacles have been
With Senegal mahogany trees uprooted
and scattered in a multiform, disparate
diaspora, with green oaks proudly
deployed in the four corners of the world,
the tree that is a fetish, a multi-secular
memory, a witness of immemorial times,
sometimes seems—beneath the haggard
gaze of the witch-doctors of Timbuktu and
the voice of the muezzin of the mosque
in Djingareyber—to sing a plaintive and
painful refrain, that of a funerary plant
deadened by the lassitude of keeping vigil
over the memory of ancestors, but that
the gentle clamour of the trade winds
makes ‘grow and regrow obstinately and
whose fruits gain little by little the bitter
flavour of freedom’ (D. Diop).
Aminata Ndiaye
Cheikh Anta Diop University
Dakar, Senegal
...Unrecognisable Sahel,
Are you losing your mind
Letting the desert
A vast predator
Reach your borders
The land of the Damel
Is it the play of fate
Or just by mistake
That this breath dares
Invade you from
the north
Stripping leaves
from your roses
Dragging your petals
Towards other
Identities - 15
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