Believing his work unfinished, President Abdoulaye Wade challenged Senegal’s constitutional term limits and ran for re-election. Within days Senegal descended into division and violence, threatening its reputation among Africa’s oldest and most stable democracies. The election and pro-democracy movement is documented from both sides, ultimately revealing a chapter of African Spring.
In the spring of 2012, President Abdoulaye Wade, once a beloved opposition leader, decided he hadn’t completed his work during his two terms in office. He rewrote the Senegalese constitution, enabling himself to run for re-election for a third term. After years of corruption and nepotism, of high food and gasoline prices, of no electricity, and with the schools shuttered because of teachers on strike, this constitutional crisis is the last straw for the people of Senegal. Led by a youth movement connected to the Arab Spring, a vigorous opposition forms and the otherwise peaceful Senegalese pour into the streets. Violence and death ensue as police fight to maintain control. This is the story of how Senegal, a democratic state in volatile West Africa, steps back from the brink of disintegration that spring and, without revolution, produces a new democratically elected government. But did anything really change for its people? While An African Spring is a feature length documentary that showcases the recent elections in Senegal, ultimately we hope it will transcend the specific subject matter to meditate on universal questions of youth empowerment, democracy and good governance. Working with Y’en a Marre, the African Youth Forum, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, and Wendy Levy from Sparkwise, we plan to deploy a robust outreach campaign that relies on interactive learning modules and short-format web videos to share stories of the power of democratic change. Our web presence will feature discreet 2-minute clips inspired by the Senegalese Youth Movement both from An African Spring and personal stories, which can be created and uploaded by users. We plan to work with teachers and administrators to present An African Spring in high-school classrooms and inspire students to create and post their own short films about their experience with democracy. These accessible micro-stories can then be distributed virally through our social media campaign, teaching kids from Senegal to the Bronx and everywhere in between, ways to empower themselves to effect meaningful change in the world.