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date: 25 June 2022

May 1968 in Africa: Revolt in Dakarlocked

May 1968 in Africa: Revolt in Dakarlocked

  • Omar GueyeOmar GueyeCheikh Anta Diop University Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Summary

As in a number of other continents, Africa experienced a wave of student and union protests in May 1968. One of its epicenters was in Senegal, based at the University of Dakar, also known as the “eighteenth French university,” where students from France and almost all Francophone Africa were directed. The events of May 1968 in Senegal were primarily caused by local factors, although similarities with the global youth protest movement can also be found. Initially ignited by a student revolt over the conditions of scholarships, the movement spread to high school students and workers’ unions, gaining the support of the working classes, while the party-state relied on the army’s loyalty as well as the support of marabouts, the Muslim leaders. This in turn expanded the crisis, first from Dakar to other parts of the country, then from Senegal to the native countries of the students who had been arrested and expelled after the university campus had been stormed by the police. At the crossroads between an escalating student strike, a student movement infiltrated by political opposition or foreign influence, a rebellion against neocolonialism, as well as a sense of weariness due to difficult social and economic circumstances, May 1968 in Senegal resembled a protest against the personal power of President Senghor as well as a demonstration led by young people who, like their counterparts abroad, wanted to change the world. The national crisis, in a context of international turmoil and in interaction with global issues, ended on September 26, when the four-month high school strikes satisfactorily ended.

Subjects

  • West Africa

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