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2008 Unity Conference : » Protest Against Senegalese President Turns Violent

Protest Against Senegalese President Turns Violent

By EUNICE LEE and APRIL YEE
The UNITY News

A man protesting Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade’s speech to the UNITY convention was punched by a supporter. He was then removed from a McCormick Center ballroom as journalists looked on.

Soon after Wade began speaking, the man, Souleymane Jules Diop, a Senegalese journalist currently living in asylum in Canada, stood and shouted that “You’re not speaking for my people.” Suddenly, another man wearing a “WADE IN 2012” cap approached Diop and swung his fist into Diop’s right shoulder.

UNITY members stood and stared. They took notes and shot photos as Wade’s supporters blew whistles and waved banners. Some chanted “We love you” as they marched down the ballroom’s central aisle toward the stage.

Chicago police officers arrested Diop for trespassing and took him to the police station. Meanwhile, Wade calmly stood at the lectern throughout the scuffle as NABJ President Barbara Ciara asked supporters to quiet themselves and sit down.

The speech came two days after Wade’s arrival sparked protests from Senegalese residents and patriots on two continents. He was coming to speak about climate issues and increasing food production. But he was questioned everywhere about the treatment of journalists in his country.

Dozens of Senegalese came to Chicago and attended the speech wearing T-shirts and signs that The UNITY News learned were paid for by Wade’s political party, the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS), according to Wade’s niece, Thialal Sabara. Wade’s party also paid for plane fares, a chartered bus and hotel rooms.

Wade has been called a leading advocate for democracy in African nations and has been embraced by the international community. He attended the G8 summit, an international gathering of world leaders, in Japan earlier this month.

And, NABJ members, who had visited Senegal last year, invited him to UNITY. NABJ defended their invitation vigorously.

“Why did we invite President Bush? “ NABJ President Barbara Ciara. “Why did we invite (former Secretary of State) Colin Powell? Why did we invite (former National Security Adviser) Condoleezza Rice? Why do we invite any world leader?

“We asked him to come to us because of free and open dialogue,” she said.

Wade arrived Wednesday and immediately was hit with questions about his treatment of the press.

Two journalists covering a soccer match in June were beaten by Senegalese police after they went onto the field to question players. Wade said that the journalists were attacking the players, a charge the protesters denied.

The beatings also led to the formation of the Committee to Protect and Defend Journalists. And on Monday, most newspapers, radio stations and TV stations staged a press blackout to protest the beatings and Wade’s failure to publicly condemn them.

Friday, hours before Wade’s speech, more than 70 protestors and supporters clashed outside the convention center. Supporters waved flags as a man in a suit chanted into a megaphone: “Abdoulaye Wade is the best president in the world.” They held signs with messages such as “YOUTH FOR WADE” and “WE WANT MORE YEARS WITH WADE”

Wade’s niece, Thialal Sabara, who has lived in the U.S. for 17 years, was among those in the crowd. Wearing the flowing sky blue and yellow colors of Wade’s party, Sabara came out in anticipation of her uncle’s critics.

“The opposition was going to be here to say bad things about the president,” she said. “We don’t like that.”

Sokhna Ndaiye, the general secretary of the Mouvement des femmes liberales, a New York satellite of Wade’s party, said: “He is the best president we have ever had since our independence.

“We sacrifice ourselves because we know if he stays for 20 years, we’ll be a big country like U.S.”

Protesters picketed and chanted.

“He’s just like Cato (a 2nd century BC Roman leader),” said Ousmane Diallo, a Senegalese-American from Iowa City, Iowa. “He’s a tyrant.”

When a Wade supporter shoved a protester, police blocked off the street and made the protestors move to the corner of East Cermak Road and Martin Luther King Drive. Police moved supporters away from the convention center across the street.

Despite the controversy, the ballroom when Wade entered to speak was less than half full.

As expected Wade opened his speech about The Great Green Wall, his plan to plant trees across 7,000 kilometers to stop the Sahara from growing south and taking up farmable land.

But even as he spoke about ways to save his country, protesters pounded the ballroom doors, shouting that Wade was a “tyrant” and a “dictator.”

Later on Friday, NABJ hosted a fund-raising dinner for Wade that was paid for by the Senegalese government, Ciara said. Later Friday, Wade was scheduled to fly to Washington, D.C., to meet with White House and State Department officials about his agricultural plan. His 100-person entourage, including journalists exclusively from state-owned media organizations, was to accompany him.

UNITY staff writers Andres Caballero and Wesley Lowery also contributed to this report.

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21 Responses to “Protest Against Senegalese President Turns Violent”

  1. My Urban Report » UNITY 08: PHOTOJOURNALIST CAPTURES DISTURBANCE Says:

    [...] Check this link for background. [...]

  2. fatou Says:

    I love my country and just like Souleymane jules diop, I unfortunately have to say that what President Wade is saying is just not true. Do you know that he bought about 3 months ago a plane costing 50 billions of our francs (around 1/8 of $ 1000,000,000) while his own population is facing increasing rise in products of viatl importance such as rice? Do you know that he aims at being replaced in an non democratic way by his own son Karim Wade who only obtained his senegalese citizenship in 2002, that is 2 years after his dad became president, because so far he was very contented with the french citizenship? And suddenly as his dad became president, he has an awakening of his “senegalesness”, becomes senegalese, at last at 34 years old and is trusted with all the big negotiations involving our country. He was trusted with the preparation of the Islamic conference that took place in march 2008 and on the website his team created they said that they spent around one billion american dollars for a 3 day conference. And in the end they refused to be audited even if there were strong rumors of over billing. And I could go on with the examples of corruption, favoritism, even dictatorship behaviors our president has been having, and all that while trying to make the rest of the world beleieve he is a democrat and a man dedicated to his population. Which is utterly false. He is only dedicated to the welfare of his family and that of the politicians and religious people he can corrupt so that they do not denounce the worsening misery senegalese people ar living into. The only thing that is keeping peace in or country is the money transfer made each month by our diaspora all over the world. But i guess even that our president does not know, or worse, does not care about. His only objective being to make his son replace him by any means. And he calls himself a democrat. He is so detached to our senegalese problems that he would rather spend millions of our money to go with his laudators, to the states and attend a conference, even though he is the first and only foreign head of state there, rather than deal with our problems. We’ve stopped being his priority the day we elected him. Have we even ever been his priority?

    PS: I know my text is very long but though I am not expecting a reply , I hope that someone would take time to read it. Thanks!

  3. mans Says:

    Fatou, I am not a fan of Wade, but you do not need to lie about the plane and its cost. People are talking about the plane but until now nothing…. ALSO BE SERIOUSE….50 BILLIONS CFA.

  4. Papa D Says:

    Fatou, I really loved your post. The truth is that Wade is only in Senegal to govern it, and while he is at it, he will make sure that his children and wife will forever be financially independent (by means of embezzlement and corruption).Prior to his election, Wade lived perpetually in France and would only come to Senegal during election times. Every member of his immediate family holds French citizenship and would not hesitate to head back if someone else came to power.
    President Wade should have never been invited to speak at the Unity of Color convention in Chicago because journalists have continuously been subjected threats, coercion, imprisonment and abuses under his rule. As an organization that gathers journalists, NABJ needed to have done a bit of research before extending him the invitation and President Barbara Ciara does not give a valid reason as to why Wade was chosen to be there. Anyone who has watched Senegal news in recent years is aware that Sud FM radio station has been closed, the staff (journalists, technicians) taken to jail, and their equipments ceased by government officials for the mere fact of airing an interview with Salif Sadio (a political opponent conveniently labeled as a rebel). Another example of the countless aggressions is when the police roughed up journalists covering protests against soaring of food prices. The police later raided Walf TV station because they broadcasted footages showing how they broke off the street protests. These aggressions were widely condemned by organizations like Reporters Without Borders. For the NABJ President to declare that Wade was invited to speak about his “Green Wall” in spite of the torture and assaults that Senegalese journalists face on a daily basis is a discredit of the organization

  5. Abu Says:

    Dear readers,
    Unfortunately, it is becoming a routine to see protests for president Wade’s venues.But what is deplorable and unacceptable is the use of any form of violence, specially towards a journalist.Mr Souleymane Jules Diop(the man who assaulted) is a brillant and courageous journalist who knows Mr Wade very well.He was the Communication Director for the ex Prime Minister, Idrissa Seck.He traveled a lot with Wade and apprently, knows maybe a little bit more than he should have;specialy now that he is not on their side. He is the author of 2 best books on the life of president Wade and become the ennemy. His radio show and blog on http://www.seneweb.com is very popular among senegalese immgrants.
    In 2000, when Mr Abdoulaye Wade finally became president after more than 26 years as opposant, Senegal also was ready for change. We were tired of these post colonial regimes which basically created a unique political parti in most african african in the early 60’s. The PS(parti socialiste) which ruled Senegal from 1960 to 2000, finally, finally lost the presidential elections.
    Given carte blanche by his people to change the country, Abdoulaye Wade started by changing the constitution and extending the presidential mandate from 5 to 7 years.Numerous eminent senegalese lawyers and magistrates sounded the alarm last year again the “manupulation of the constution” in Senegal. Mr Wade is just another african leader who would do anything, includind violence to stay in power.
    Meanwhile, Senegal is poor.Very poor. Nobody cares! We are not talking about building highways and skycrapers to show the world that we too have it, we are talking about the bacis needs of the poeple:food, water, electricity, education, health, etc….Sometimes it is no water, sometimes no gas, sometimes no electricity, sometimes all of the above! Despite all of that and many more, Wade travels the world on taxpayers money to deliver speeches and give lessons about ecomony and democraty!!!
    Souleymane Jules Diop is just the voice of a moririty of young intelectual senegalese citizen who are sick and tired of these regimes. We suffered enough!!!

  6. bibi Says:

    senegalese who are outdoor don’t know truth in senegal.they are influenced by some dangerous websites like seneweb.com.a souleymane jules diop own.there some newspapers are manipulated by opposition parties.they lies everytimes.

  7. AmericanGirl Says:

    I love NABJ, it’s a wonderful organization. It’s unfortunate this has happened. Ms. Ciara gave a valid reason as to why the organization invited the president. I wish we all could get along and not be considered a liar.

  8. amoctad Says:

    I’m very sorry the fact that Wade’s bodyguard attaks a free Jourliste who have just express his opinion. Souleymane Jules said truth, the foreigner didn’t know Wade. That’s why they invite him to attend a big meeting in the foreign country and they give him a democratic or peace prize. He does not deserve it.
    Beside, 2008 Unity Confernce should not invite this dangerous man whose police men attaks a free citizen and he didn’t condem it.
    What happened yerterday is a shame for the Senegal and senegalese. Our president showed the world he is violent that’s why his bodyguard attaked a senegalese citizen.

  9. mamzo Says:

    I want 1st to thank my fellow migrants for the interesting point of views of the previous posts, and then add some words to the topic. I left homeland 15 years ago for France and now UK, and as many of us I guess, it was not just for the pleasure of being abroad leaving our family and friends behind for a better life(??)
    I am remembering now in the year 2000, the enthusiasm of some of my friends in France when Abdoulaye Wade was freshly elected President of Senegal. This enthusiasm was widely shared all across the country. There was a kind of naive pride from our people when it came to consider the act of former President Abdou Diouf calling in person to congratulate his opponent before the official results; hey World look we!! we, Senegal, often considered as a true example of democracy in Africa, we show you the behaviour of a big western democratic nation as e.g. J. Kerry is calling G.W. Bush after a hard campaign for Presidency… Not because I was pessimistic, but at that time I was just circumspect…
    We should not forget that the election of this man was mainly due to the national free press, remembering again journalists all across in the deep country reporting in live with their cellular phones the different results…No way this time, the Regime is beaten… And now since the year 2000, how many of these journalists have been arrested, prosecuted, summon to the DIC!!!(”Division des Investigations Criminelles” = Criminal Investigations Section) just for their opinion relating how bad the people is feeling, how some with not known professional or business activities 8 years ago are now living in an excessive unhidden luxury??? One the favourite weapon used by the previous regime against the former opponent Abdoulaye Wade, was the “act of Threat to State Security” - Abdoulaye Wade is at his turn still using this law as a threat upon the head of any opponent, former political ally or journalist…
    Remember that one of the most significant acts of this man, the last years he been in power, was to reprieve the murderers of one Senegal Constitutional Court judge in 1993, crime he was accused to be the sponsor and have been imprisoned for that. He then order from the parliament an act of grace preventing the Justice of our country from carrying any action related to this crime in the future…
    As many of us, I am frequently going back to Senegal to visit family and friends left behind, and explaining how critical and worse is getting the situation year after year in Senegal, will take more than a 1000 pages book… How many projects has Abdoulaye Wade thrown to the faces of national and international opinion from Omega Plan with highways between Dakar and far african cities, The Migrants Repatriation for Agriculture and so and son to now the Green Barrier, this will take a 10000 pages book…
    I agree with Papa D, not criticizing but suggesting that the NABJ should perform thorough research before inviting a personality. It is the first time I heard about this association, but I am quite sure that they are worthy followers of Dr W.E.B Du Bois, one of my all time US favourite intellectuals…
    Sorry for this long post and thanks to Fatou, Papa D and the others, and remember that one important thing is waking up every single day, striving to earn his life, and at the end of the day, look at oneself into the mirror and say this dollar in my hand is the outcome of my own sweat. Then, Thank God and you can go to bed with the greatest peace of conscience. I am not sure that our political leaders and all their courtship have that privilege…
    To the journalists in Senegal, keep on doing your work with conscience, and all be aware that your pens and your voice are a far more powerful weapon than physical, verbal and any kind of violence. These last are the weak people weapons.
    Thanks

  10. Papa D Says:

    Mamzo- You need to post this eloquent and realistically informative text to the Chicago Suntimes website because it caters to a wider audience . The link of their article related to the incident is below

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/mitchell/1076112,CST-NWS-mitch27.article

  11. Charles Says:

    Quote “Later on Friday, NABJ hosted a fund-raising dinner for Wade that was paid for by the Senegalese government, Ciara said” Unquote

    What is not acceptable and shows the desaster we are facing, is that for a poor country like Sénégal, where 90% of people live with less than one dollar a day, the President is travelling arround the world speeaking for non-sense and spreading the money of the people. PResident Wade is not travelling with is onw money. But the state’s budget.

    Young men and women are fleeing from agricultural areas because they have nothing to eat and they have no hope for the future because of the poor and dramatic agricultural policy implemented by President Wade.

    Young men are fleeing from Senegal to Spain in fiching boats, because they have no hope for their own country since the president Wade started to show his poor leadership and organizing large scale corruption in our society. The man Wade who had nothing in year 2000 has organized the corruption at the State level by introducing his own son Karim whose job is to detect the investors who need to give him part of they investment if they want to invest in Senegal.

    Every one saw Karim Wade on TV flying from one African country to another whith the Emir of Dubai, to visit corrupted presidents to negotiate contract for Dubai Ports World and Jafza.

    People and organisations who are receiving such a man like Wade have to think about Mobutu. I have to mention that the actual Senegalese minister of Internal Affairs was a former security adviser of late President Mobutu. So it will a be shame in few year to find out that you have invited a dictator and a tyrant thinking that you did it for a democrat.

    In conclusion, Unity leaders, should know that the dinner paid by the senegalese government is hardly needed by the senegalese people who are starving, by hospitals where people are dying for the lack of medecines, by schools with a high percentage of deperdition etc… This list can fill a whole book.

  12. Baba Says:

    Diop has succeeded in exposing Wade to the whole world. Now, any investegative journalist especially African American within the UNITY organization can take a look at what’s going on in Senegal. Here is a country that is seeing most of his intellectuals and manpower fleeing the country frustrated & in dispear. This country with a huge potential has seen a reversal in its direction because Wade came pretending he was expert in all. Doesn’t need any expert advices and surrounded himself with people with little skills and a lot of muscles. Here is a country where being an intellectual or having degrees is almost like a sin. Wade is ruling the country acting for international media as a democrat but behaving as a dictator. What happened in Chicago is the perfect illustration. Think about what would have happened to Diop if this had taken place in Dakar. He may have lost his life or at the least be thrown in prison until one day Wade in his “kindness” would instruct the “judge” to free him. I have a suggestion for journalist in the UNITY organization to investigate how Wade is tailoring the senegalese constitution at a very well timely spaced pace to suit the need for him to be replaced by his son.
    Thanks for the opportunity to let my voice be heard.

  13. nabou Says:

    Iam writing this note as a black african us citizen, who is originally from Senegal {west Africa} to share with the entire world what a majority of senegalese have been living today. In times of great turmoil in Senegal,it is important and extremely urgent to show the world what a miserable life people are living in Senegal under the ruling of the greatest dictator of this century:Mr Abdoulaye Wade president of Senegal.I would not dare to think that after Hitler, the world will witness a dictator, a criminal,a hainous person,an assasin a corrupted, a monarchist without taking any action to save this country that is on the verge of drowning. The fact of the matter is that Senegal is a third world country that had been colonized by the french who depleted all its natural resources back in the 1900’s. Senegal has never gotten back from the devastating damages that the french caused , and the worse is when the world witness with total indiffernce when another form of apartheid is being committed by Mr Wade to his own people. The chances for Senegal to make it to the status of developing country have been further compromised under the actual regime.In fact, since 2000 which marked a great turning point for Senegal,when most people had HOPE in their hearts that they would live to witness great changes happened within their lifetime ,when electing Abdoulaye wade.Nevertheless huge was their surprise, disapointment, when after 8 years of total dictature ,total chaos,Senegal has fallen below the level of poverty known to any nation. It is a shame that the US would let perpetrator of hainous crimes enter the us territory while pertending to be democrat,and when they have robbed their people of their freedom of speech, right to manifest, right to be free. It is a fact that Senegal is not a democratic country but rather a monarchist country,where one family has terrorized their,people.It is a shame when US declares war against terror and let in its soil the biggest terrorist in the history fo mankind:Abdoulaye wade and his son Karim Wade. It is a shame when US look the other way when its political interest is not at stake.It is a shame when a prominent journalist{Mr. souleymane Jules Diop} is assaulted live on us territory and among his fellow journalists. To further demonstrate the non-existent freedom of speech in Senegal.It would be most shameful if the state of Chicago does not take any action against the criminals Mr. Abdoulaye Wade ,his body guard Alioune Diop and Pape Samba Mboup etc.. They should be charged for violating the first amendement, for assault and battery, for crimes against humanity.The us court system must make sure that these perpetrators get punished for commiting crimes on the us soil.These criminals should not be allowed to leave the territory until they have paid for their crime.
    In conclusion , Iam calling upon the US to take a closer look of the situation that is happening in Senegal. Iam calling upon the world Bank to make sure that the money lended to Senegal , is being used properly to finance the projects that it was destined to ,instead of being wired to the president wade and his son Karim Wade ,His wife Viviane Wade and his daughter Sindiely wade personal bank accounts
    Thank to all of you who took the time to read this post.

  14. nabou Says:

    I am writing this note as a Senegalese born US citizen, to share with the entire world how a vaste majority of senegalese live today. In times of great turmoil in Senegal, it is important and extremely urgent to tell the world what a miserable condition people are living in under the rule of the greatest dictator of this century:Mr Abdoulaye Wade president of Senegal. I would not dare to think that after Hitler, the world would witness a dictator, a criminal,a heinous person,an assasin, a corrupted, a monarchist without taking any action to save this country that is on the verge of drowning. The fact of the matter is that Senegal is a third world country that had been colonized by the french who depleted all its natural resources back in the 1900’s. Senegal has never gotten back from the devastating damages that the french inflicted. The worse part happens when the world watches with total indiffernce when another form of apartheid is being committed by Mr Wade to his own people. The chances for Senegal to make it to the status of developing country have been further compromised under the actual regime. In fact, since 2000 which marked a great turning point for Senegal, most people had HOPE in their hearts that they would live to see great changes happen in their lifetime , when electing Abdoulaye Wade. Nevertheless huge were their surprise and disapointment, when after 8 years of total dictatoreship and total chaos. Senegal has fallen below the level of poverty known to any nation. It is a shame that the US would let a perpetrator of heinous crimes enter its territory under the disguise of a democrat, when he in fact have robbed people of their freedom of speech, right to manifest, right to be free. It is a fact that Senegal is not a democratic country but rather a monarchist country run by one terrorizing family. It is a shame that the US declares war on terror and yet lets in its soil the biggest terrorists in the history of mankind:Abdoulaye wade and his son Karim Wade. It is also a shame when the US looks the other way when its political interest is not at stake. It is a shame when a prominent journalist {Mr. souleymane Jules Diop} is assaulted on live television on US territory and among his fellow journalists. This is to further demonstrate the non-existent freedom of speech in Senegal. It would be most regretful if the city of Chicago does not take any action against these criminals Mr. Abdoulaye Wade ,his body guard Alioune Diop and Pape Samba Mboup. They should be charged for violating the first amendement, for assault and battery, and for crimes against humanity. The courts must make sure that these perpetrators get punished for commiting crimes on US soil. These criminals should not be allowed to leave the territory until they have paid for their crimes.
    In conclusion , I am calling upon the US to take a closer look of the situation that is happening in Senegal. I am calling upon the World Bank to make sure that the monies given to Senegal are being used properly to finance the projects that they were hearmarked for. Those monies should not end up in president Wade’s or his children’s ( Karim and Sindiely Wade) or his wife’s ( Viviane Wade) personal bank account.
    Thanks to all of you who took the time to read this post.

  15. Newstips v2.0 » Blog Archive » Conference attack Says:

    [...] of Senegal: Too Many Journalists,” “Press Freedom Advocates Protest,”  ”Protest Turns Violent,” “Speech Marred by [...]

  16. mamzo Says:

    Nabou,
    I think that we need to stay within the limits of moderation so that not to blur the message we are all giving through these different posts. Comparing A. Wade to A. Hitler and making him the worst dictator Africa has never experienced will not help the message we want deliver!!!
    Unfortunately among the many of his african peers, the President of Senegal still benefit from the international opinion an image of democratic leader in the democratic desert that Africa represents. He is often invited to the G8 summit as a sort of mascot I would say…and even more,one or two years ago the Financial Times gave an echo to what is supposed to be a kind of discover: the wade formula, a formula on what should be the international oil price, formule without any meaning or direct effect to his people life… Just to say that this is just realpolitik, the world wealthiest nations showing that they handling the third world extreme poverty problem. Let’s show in our company one of these african leaders, and of course let’s choose the less clown looking one… a good casting? I don’t think so, they should look better, but are they willing to???
    But we people from Senegal, home or abroad we are not fool. So let’s deliver a clear and strong message, because from the many different places we all are in the world we ve got this wonderful tool to exchange our ideas and deliver the truth to each others and to other people.
    To conclude as I already said, let’s leave the violence of muscles and tongue, the denial, the absurdity to party of weak people…

  17. Unity ‘08: Final Notes « Global Wire Associates Says:

    [...] Unity News: “Why did we invite President Bush? “ NABJ President Barbara Ciara. “Why did we invite [...]

  18. omar Says:

    I would like contribute in this great debat among senegalese abroad. to give you a little background. I’m one of the millions of youth who supported Wade to uproot the former regime of Diouf. My father was one of the founders of the actual ruling party of Wade. After the great victory of democratic elections. I was one of the guys who was saying (up to 2003) let’s give a chance to this man who fought 26 years to become President. But Here is the fact. After, the use of the senegalese religious hierarchy as a shield to protect his survival, after the cover-ups, dismisal and amnisty of persons who where were guilty of the assassunation of the late suprem court juge Babacar Seye I started to ask myself several questions. Among them whom really are these people who took power in his multicentury democratic society? after a few months the aswer became clear to me after the many false pursuits agains journalists and and press organisations who dare to ask the same questions in the public place. some have been condamned under false pretences and some politicians, victims of murder atempts by close collaborators of the regim. all of

  19. omar Says:

    This contribution is particularly directed rowland Martin of cnn. Who I personnaly admire for his remarkable views and positions at cnn. For his unapologetic views on fareness and honnesty in governement. Would you support an african regim or any president who is trying to put his son as his dauphyn by manupulating the contitution of his country. Specialy when this son refused to take the senegalese citysenship only after his father became president? I suspect no. That’s exactly what’s happening in senegal. At UBJ I would like you to do deep reseach, inquiries and fact findings. And special talk to your fellow journalists in this country about these issues.

  20. khadim Says:

    salam dear peer patriots,I hope you all are doing the samething as these posts to try to awake first your respectve family and then senegalese population.It’s a duty for the diaspora,besides sending money back home,to give the right information to our familiee,relatives and friends.That’s the only way we can elp ourselves and help senegal
    diamak xewe

  21. Doug Mitchell Says:

    Hello all:
    Really great reading here as I understanding of where it comes from.
    I went to Dakar last year for eight days. It was my first trip to Africa. I was invited by a then fledgling organization called FAMEDEV (http://www.radioavg.com/website). The goal? To train radio journalists who were in exile from The Gambia. For those who do not know, The Gambia is am extreme police state, with many journalists having disappeared and well-known journalist (Chief Ebrima B. Manneh) currently either in captivity or dead. No one knows. A few radio journalists who fled The Gambia with their families to Dakar and one from Ivory Coast and I met for eight days to learn the finer parts of radio reporting, plan programming to be distributed over the internet and see if Adobe “Audition” 2.0 would work on Windows “Vista.” It did, but not without a lot of cursing of a particular technology company, but I digress. Also, I trained them on the use of an audio recorder called the “Zoom H4″ and the “Marantz PMD 660.”
    They fled to Senegal because it was “safer” for them to practice their trade and work in general. I heard hours of stories about why they had to leave. Two journalists from The Gambia were in our group. I found those two to be very courageous to leave Banjul, come and get training and new gear and take it back with them. Since that time, one of the journalists I worked with was fired from her job, her newspaper bowing to government pressure.
    I gave them “radio” and work-flow help and they gave me a large lesson in living under the thumb of government control and life in very poor countries. I was reminded (I’ve lived and taught in Chile and traveled extensively in Latin America) that we in the US are very, very fortunate if not spoiled.
    I truly enjoyed my short visit to Dakar and met some wonderful people simply trying to practice qualitative journalism under trying circumstances. Not just political, but economic too. The lights would go out once a day. They bought a diesel fueled generator to keep the lights on. It took two hours of “negotiating” to buy it one afternoon. There was no air-conditioning but we did have Internet. I still communicate with everyone as we set up a listserv while there and we all continue to comment to each other.
    So, I was not there on any official state visit. Just an American journalist who said he could do a long-time friend and fellow trainer a favor, by sitting in for her as she had a scheduling conflict.
    I think my time in Dakar was an equitable exchange with me leaving knowledge but yet taking much more with me.

    Doug Mitchell
    NPR - next generation radio
    Team Leader
    UNITY 2008 Student Media Project

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Here are the winners of the contested board of director elections for National Association of Hispanic Journalists and Asian American Journalists Association.
Rapid Newsroom Turnover Equals Increased Workload
The impact of turnover and layoffs has hit many working journalists hard. Some feel overwhelmed by increased workloads and having to juggle multiple things at once.
Protest Against Senegalese President Turns Violent
A man protesting Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade’s speech to the UNITY convention was punched by a supporter. He was then removed from a McCormick Center ballroom as journalists looked on.
Retiring Editor Cited As Champion of Minority Journalists
At the end of next week, Sharon Rosenhause, the managing editor at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel will retire after serving more than 20 years in the newspaper business, as a mentor and a long-standing voice for journalists of color.
Overcoming: One Reporter’s Story Of Controlling Anorexia
Although I am stable and I no longer starve myself, anorexia will always be a part of me.
Trabajo Por Todo Lo Alto
El boricua Luis Vázquez ha visto la sangre que cuesta convertir un lote vacío entre las calles Kinzie y Dearborn de Chicago, en un rascacielos.
Es Difícil Reportar Desde Cuba
Ex corresponsales los principales medios de Estados Unidos que laboraron en Cuba consideran el país un de los lugares más difíciles de reportar, por la secretividad del régimen y el constante acoso de los periodistas.
Who Is An Indian: Testy Panel Exchange Ends Peacefully
Kenneth Cooper felt he and his fellow Freedmen were left out.
NAJA Banquet Spotlights Rich History, Roots
The Native American Journalists Association held its annual banquet Friday at one of the oldest Indian centers in the country.
NABJ Surveys Find Little Diversity Among Newsroom Leadership
According to two surveys released by NABJ, people of color are still a minority in television newsrooms’ highest leadership positions.
Cherokee Chief Works To Rebuild Nation
He was named “Ugista,” which means “Corntassal,” by his grandma. He comes from a strong family line that fought to hold onto tribal traditions and land.
NAMME’s Name Change Reflects Fresh Beginning
Barack Obama did it. Jennifer Lopez did it. And now NAMME is doing it. The National Association of Multicultural Media Executives, or NAMME, has changed its name to better embrace its cultural heritage and history.
UNITY Attendance Surpasses 6,500
More than 6,500 journalists, exhibitors and sponsors registered for UNITY ’08, according to event organizers.
NAHJ Se Traslada A Puerto Rico
La convención de la Nacional de Periodistas Hispanos (NAHJ, por sus siglas en inglés) se traslada al trópico en el 2009.
White Sox, Chicago Cubs Rivalry Lives On
“Wrigley Field is nothing but a tourist trap for everybody that comes from out of town to Chicago,” he said of the rival team’s headquarters across town. “The heart of Chicago belongs to the Sox.”
Media Expo’s Late Opening Confuses Attendees
There was momentary confusion when the UNITY Career Fair and Media Expo opened at 11 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. as it had the previous two days.
Juicy Beef Delicacy Deemed ‘Best Sandwich In America’
A Windy City alternative to the Philly cheese steak, the Italian beef sandwich adds a Midwest twist to the East Coast classic.
Layoffs, Buyouts By The Numbers
Newspapers from Los Angeles to Boston have been taking steps to defray costs by downsizing their staffs. Here are 10 newspapers that announced layoffs and buyouts since June 23, and the number of employees they were planning to cut.
Mainstream Newspapers Condense, Native American Publications Expand
While mainstream newspapers are laying off large numbers of staff and producing smaller papers, Native American tribal newspapers are doing just the opposite – increasing their staff, exploring new revenue sources and publishing more often.
Journalists Look Past Bleak Times
The always stressful journalism industry has become even more so as rounds of buyouts and layoffs cast a cloud of uncertainty over rapidly shrinking newsrooms.
Journalists Cope With Now-Common Layoffs, Buyouts
Some former newspaper journalists are doing as much as they can to transfer their skills into other areas, while others have gone in a new direction.
Media Layoffs Take Toll On Diversity
Diversity is not just a feel-good thing – it’s good business, even amid turbulent times, according to UNITY leaders.
Web Site Offers Demographic Data On Minority Kids, Families
State-level data about children and families in five of the largest racial groups are now publicly accessible on the Web.
Low-Income Residents Lament Loss Of Housing Projects
In Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, the grief of low-income families is transformed into the joy of more affluent newcomers.
Polish Sausage Remains Integral To Chicago Identity
Risk-takers who aren’t afraid of a little grease and artery-clogging goodness can venture to one of Chicago’s many kielbasa eateries and meat markets.
Student Certain Of Calling In Uncertain Times
I can’t imagine finding a more perfect job. But as I prepare to report news for decades, voices across the newsroom echo in my head. And they are chipping away at my decision.
Hacinamiento Como Forma Común De Vida
Desde hace siete meses, Javier Martínez, 42, padre de dos hijos, vive en un armario de cuatro pies de ancho por siete de largo, de una casa en Cícero, Illinois.
Spanish-Language Newspaper To Celebrate Bicentennial
Some readers tend to think Spanish-language tabloids are a new, up-and-coming market, but Latino newspapers have been around for nearly 200 years.
Career Tips To Take And Wear
Conventions offer great learning and career opportunities. But a great first impression is a must – and that comes with the perfect ensemble.
Famed Recruiter Says His Buyout Opens New Doors
For 18 years, Joe Grimm's friendly smile and witty jabs have become a journalism conference staple. But this year is different.
Panel To Call Attention To Cuts In International Reporting
Financially strapped media companies are considering cuts to foreign bureaus as a way to cut costs.
Chef Luciano Serves Up Rich History, Cuisine
Just around the corner from McCormick Place near Al Capone’s old headquarters, Chef Luciano serves up an eclectic array of dishes.
Deceased Journalist Honored At Hall Of Fame Banquet
Not every journalist can stand up at a press association meeting with a 20-minute speaking limit and get away with speaking for an hour and 15 minutes. The late veteran journalist Vernon Jarrett did.
Photographers, Copy Editors Slam Lack Of Workshops
This year’s UNITY convention offered 111 workshops for writers, editors and new media journalists. But the host organization planned no workshops for copy editors, photographers, graphic artists and designers.
Job Fair Loot Goes Beyond Business Cards
For those not on the job hunt, a convention serves as an opportunity to stock up on much more than business cards, and UNITY ’08 is no exception. From the moment they register, conference attendees are greeted with goodies.
Weather the Storm With These Tips
For journalists feeling burned-out from the business, UNITY convention speakers Angela Neal-Barnett and Carla Davis from Rise, Sally, Rise Inc. will offer a seminar Friday called “Beat Up, Burned Out? How to Hang in, Rejuvenate and Thrive in Tough Times.”

UNITY News Radio

Foosball for Learning
In Chicago, more than seventy artists are trying to generate a dialogue through an exhibit called “A Declaration of Immigration.” One interactive installation approaches the issue through a one-of-a-kind tabletop foosball game. Reporter Diane Lee has more.
 
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Aqui No
Audio Slideshow: As homicides dominate Chicago headlines, one Hispanic neighborhood hopes that two words are powerful enough to reverse the trend. Kristen Lee has this report.
 
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Going in Circles
Chicago rose to prominence a little more than 100 years ago. How did it get there? The Chicago History Museum offers one answer, and it may surprise you. Elizabeth Anderson reports from high atop the Navy Pier Ferris wheel.
 
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Green Alleys
A few years ago the mayor of Chicago issued a challenge. He urged every city department to become more eco-friendly. (In English and En Espanol.)
 
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Slow Economy Doesn’t Slow Fashion Sales
Unity News reporter Martha Flores reports that a rough economy doesn’t seem to be hurting the city’s fashion industry.
 
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Cheesbourga, Cheesbourga, Cheesbourga!
For decades, this establishment has been playing off the famous Saturday Night Live “cheeseburger” skit it inspired.
 
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Leaving the Rez
Eighteen-year-old Povi Lomayaoma has lived on a Hopi reservation in Arizona her entire life. In two months, she’s leaving to go to college in Colorado to study journalism. She says she’ll miss many of her clan’s traditions.
 
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Seeking Advice
Povi Lomayaoma sought the advice of other Native American journalists who started a life outside their reservations.
 
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Chicago’s a Stand-in for Gotham
Many scenes from the last two Batman movies -- including last weekend’s blockbuster hit “The Dark Knight” -- were filmed in Chicago. Travis Gishie reports.
 
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X-rated X-ray Vision?
Chicago's O'Hare International Airport plans to use new full-body security scanners that reveal images of passengers… including private body parts. Elizabeth Anderson reports.
 
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Neighborhood on the Edge
This past weekend on Chicago’s West Side, a stray bullet killed a 39-year old mother. A recent spike in homicides has left neighbors on the edge. Kristen Lee has details.
 
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Hundreds Protest Budget Cuts
In Chicago, hundreds of demonstrators turned out this week to protest a state plan to cut $71million from mental health and drug rehab programs. Martha Flores has this report.
 
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Helping those from Homeland
Chicago’s a city that venerates its own, giving out honorary titles and naming streets after local bigwigs. But Sisay Kidane doesn’t need a title. He’s just the man to meet. Mwende Hahesy landed an invitation to Sisay’s home one afternoon in late July.
 
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Photo Gallery

Devon Avenue
Chicago Blues
 
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Summer Dance
 
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Neighborhood Violence
Gentrification Transforms Neighborhood
Fashion In Motion
 
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Video Gallery

Latino Vote
 
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UNITY on the Cheap
 
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Cherokee Chief Speaks on Press Issues
 
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CNN’s TJ Holmes Visits UNITY News
 
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Online Exclusives

Obama Addresses UNITY as Convention Draws to a Close
Sen. Barack Obama addressed thousands of journalists at a live forum on the final day of the UNITY convention in his first appearance since returning to the U.S. after a spending a week overseas.
Photo Shootout Brings Out The Big Guns
Blogs Bring Attention To Stories Overlooked By Mainstream Media
Popular blog sites such as Concrete Loop and Bossip gave the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. controversy and the Jena Six case prominent attention before major media outlets picked them up.
NAHJ Hall of Fame Inductees Share Vision
Though he died 100 years ago, Francisco Ramirez’s vision for an inclusive news media persists with his induction into the NAHJ Hall of Fame alongside NAHJ co-founders.
Panelists: Accurate Pictures Of Crime Needs In-Depth Reporting
Dwindling resources and other obstacles complicate fair crime coverage, according to a panel at the UNITY convention.
Indian Image Offensive?
 
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Foreign Reporting Must Be Off The Beaten Path
Young journalists and freelancers interested in foreign correspondence need to be “well-versed in the world” in order to succeed, UNITY panelists said.
UNITY Co-Founders Propose Conventions Every Other Year
Co-founders Juan Gonzalez and Will Sutton have proposed UNITY hold joint conventions every two years instead of every four.
Emotions Flare During NAJA Panel
Debate over American Indian citizenship dominated a panel about Native American identity at the UNITY Convention on Friday.
Senegal President’s Speech Marred by Fight
A man protesting Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade was assaulted and physically removed from the McCormick Center West on Friday.
Protest, Supporters Greet Senegal President
Waving signs reading, “Electrical Stun Guns to Beat Journalists,” and “Fair Journalism is Dead in Senegal,” dozens of protesters shouted and pumped their fists in the air as Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade made an appearance before the UNITY convention on Friday.
 
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UNITY Revenue, Attendance Hold Steady
This year’s UNITY convention revenue and registration are not expected to significantly change compared with 2004 figures, according to UNITY officials.
Students Struggle to Find Paid Internships
Can young journalists financially afford to take unpaid internships to get a few steps farther along their career path?
Chicago a Stand-in for Gotham
Interactive: See Chicago sites featured in the new Batman movie.
NAHJ Event Delivered Royal Networking Experience
The air was filled with bustling conversation, bumping music and the aromas of exotic North African cuisine — a feast for the senses.
Unemployed NABJ Members Share Solace, Support
Recently unemployed members of the National Association of Black Journalists gathered at UNITY on Thursday to give a voice and an open ear to those affected.
Persistence Pays Off In Finding Mentors, TV Journalists Say
Finding a mentor could mean the difference between small-market confinement and network glory, NBC panelists said.

Blog

Mentors Make Convergence Project Worthwhile
Does the ideal newsroom exist? It does once every four years in a selected city in the United States. It includes hungry reporters and photographers, video editors, producers and camera people for print, web, radio and TV from all over the nation. You name it, we’ve got it. The UNITY News, that is our name, convergence and diversity is our game.
Top Five Things to Do
If you’re like me, you’re a little sad that the UNITY convention is coming to a close. On the bright side, you still have Saturday to make the most of your trip.
The Takeaway: Is Chicago Still a Pizza Lover’s Paradise?
The moment I arrived at my hotel I craved a slice of piping hot Chicago-style pizza. Coming from Columbus, Ohio I can satisfy my love of the classic Uno’s, by way of the frozen food aisle. Not autentico!
Chicago’s North and South: Two Sides of the Pie
Ask a few people around town to describe the 228 neighborhoods in Chicago and two distinctions systematically arise: the north side and the south side of Chicago. While 3 million people live within the “Windy City,” it’s uncommon for a person living in the south side to encounter north-sider.
Video: Patti Austin Preview
Grammy Award-winning songstress Patti Austin recently took time out of her busy schedule to discuss why she’s supporting NABJ and other UNITY: Journalists of Color, Inc.’s alliance organizations during its upcoming benefit concert on Saturday.
 
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AP, The New York Times And Wal-Mart?
There are a few names you might not expect to see when you turn the corner at the career expo, such as Amtrak, World Wrestling Entertainment and Wal-Mart.
The Takeaway: Podhalanka’s Pierogies
Chicago is a place that knows its pierogies. With a sizable Polish population that rivals Warsaw, walking through Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood you’ll hear Polish spoken by locals enjoying borsht, galumpkis and sausages.
 
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Students Struggle to Find Paid Internships
Can young journalists financially afford to take unpaid internships to get a few steps farther along their career path?
Cox Foundation To Award $50K In Scholarships
The James M. Cox Foundation will award $50,000 in scholarships to support minority journalism students, Cox Enterprises Inc. announced Thursday.
Calling All Freelancers! (And Those Who Want to Start)
Freelancing can be a lucrative and stable source of income – if you know the tricks of the trade. The workshop called, “Stepchild No more: Becoming a Successful Freelancer," reveals those tricks and much more.