January 27th was declared Holocaust Remembrance Day nine years ago by the UN. This year, Senegal participated. The gathering marks an important change for Senegal. The Israeli Embassy reports that out of Senegal’s 13 million people, only 50 are Jews. Consequently, very little, if anything at all, is known about the Holocaust in Senegal. The ceremony was held at Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegal’s largest high school. Roughly 400 students attended and were each given a memoir of a Canadian Holocaust Survivor.
The event was hosted by professor Alioune Dème, who emphasizes the problem of otherness in Africa; “people kill each other over differences,” he states. He points out that people in Senegal view the Holocaust as foreign, and thus believe that genocide can never touch them. This sort of ignorance is dangerous because it allows genocide to continue. Thus he is attempting to bring the Holocaust closer to home for the Senegalese people; so far, his research has yielded records of 75 Senegalese Holocaust victims.
Hopefully, this learning experience will spread through all of Senegal, warning its people of the dangers of genocide so that they can avoid them in the future.
If you would like to find out more, read The Star’s article.
Featured image: Professor Alioune Dème.