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Les Infos

"Qu'est-ce qui se passe dans notre pays?" someone wondered aloud as we watched the news on the television. This past week has been one of stress, disappointment, and unrest for the people of Senegal. Saturday the 21 of January we watched as Senegal's equipe de foot lost its first game in the Coupe d'Afrique; even so, we held onto hope through the 93rd minute of Senegal's second match, only to be disappointed by losing to a spectacular goal from the opposing team in overtime. Keeping to the rules of the Coupe, we had to suffer through one more losing game yesterday afternoon before being officially eliminated from the Coupe.

Meme si, l'equipe de foot's poor performance was not the first thing on the minds of the Dakarois. Schools have been on and off strike since before I've been here, and last week there was also a transportation strike for a few days, suspended only out of necessity because of the approaching birthday of the prophet Mohammed (4 February).

However, truly the most important thing that is currently underway involves the recent finalization of the candidates for the 2012 presidential elections. Last Friday, 27 January, it was announced that the constitutional council had accepted current president Abdoulaye Wade's candidacy. In reality, there was little doubt that his candidacy would be accepted, but on paper it was under question because of the new(ish) constitutional ruling that one person may only serve two terms as president, which Wade is currently in the process of completing. However, the five people who officially ruled whether he would be able to run again or not were, of course, chosen by none other than Wade himself, so naturally he will be on the ballot 26 February.

All day last Friday, the air was thick with tension in Dakar. Nothing extraordinary occurred that I had the chance to witness, though there were demonstrations and protests in numerous parts of the city from midnight to morning thanks to the constitutional council's announcement. All weekend roads were blocked by students and protesters upset with Wade's acceptance. Even now, Monday night, gendarmerie sit in groups at the roundabouts, by bridges, and at other hotspots in the city just in case. Again, nothing serious has happened yet, but even the weather tells of unrest in the people with heavy clouds and a cool, dry wind. Tuesday will bring more protests without a doubt. On verra; di na baax.

Nevertheless, life continues in this sleepless city. School continues for the MSID students, transportation has started again, the call to prayers is as consistent as ever, and the wind still gets sand in my now-tressed hair. Tomorrow I will discuss Senegalese French poetry, speak Wolof, drink ataya with my guard friends, and live life in West African Internal Time. Alhamdulilaay.

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