New Senegal President’s Home Village Full Of Pride, Hope And Advice

Men from all around Senegal gather to Ndiaganiao, a secluded village in the agricultural region, to celebrate President-elect Bassirou Diomaye Faye’s father.

Samba Faye, 84, speaks from the hallway of the pastel-colored family house while dressed in a silk blue boubou. He says he is “happy and proud” of his son.

“He came to see me before the election, crouched at my feet, and asked that I pray for this success,” Faye remarked, as men approached him and handed him buzzing phones.

Samba Faye(R), father of presidential candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye poses for a portrait at his family home in Ndiaganiao on March 27, 2024. (Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP)

“We could never have imagined that he would one day become president of the republic even though we prayed that he would go as far as possible in his career,” added Faye.

“Bassirou has always been a serious and ambitious boy.”

‘High hopes’

Just 10 days after being released from prison, anti-establishment challenger Diomaye, who comes from an educated but modest family, won the presidential election in the first round with 54.28 percent of the vote.

The 44-year-old, who has stated that he wants to “break” with Senegal’s current political structure, is likely to become the country’s youngest president in history.


“I asked him to do everything to satisfy the Senegalese people” who “have high hopes” of him, Faye, who worked in the agricultural sector training farmers how to use new equipment, told AFP.

“I told him that a great responsibility now rests on his shoulders.”

Outside the house, little girls play barefoot in the dusty alleys in front of buildings from another era, with old wooden doors and rusted metal ones still standing.

Diomaye’s name and that of his instructor Ousmane Sonko are scrawled in white paint on walls and decaying buildings across Ndiaganiao, where he received 80% of the votes.

A man stands next to his horse pulled cart in Ndiaganiao on March 27, 2024. – The small Senegalese town of Ndiaganiao emerged from anonymity after the accession to power of one of its children, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, who is the pride of its inhabitants. (Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP)

The uncle of the new president and his namesake Diomaye Faye said that running as leader wasn’t his nephew’s intention.

“It wasn’t actually his goal. He never really intended to get involved in politics but his friend Ousmane Sonko… drew him into politics,” said his uncle, a political science professor in the United States who said he spent two years with pan-Africanist leader Thomas Sankara from 1985 to 1987.

“The main advice we can give him is… remaining himself, being humble and keeping his ability to listen,” the uncle added.

‘Little shepherd’

The walls at the local headquarters of Faye’s party, PASTEF, are covered in posters of the new president.

Mor Sarr, who describes himself as Faye’s best friend and a PASTEF official, admits that he monitored the voting to prevent electoral fraud.

He recalls playing football with Faye “on sandy pitches delineated by stones” and sharing food when they were students on a tight budget.

From 2001 until 2004, the two shared a room at the University of Dakar after meeting at school when they were 11 years old.

“Diomaye has always been very close to his mother, Khady Diouf, whom he used to help with the household chores after school. Diomaye was also a little shepherd who looked after his goats,” Sarr said.

“With all the twists and turns that events have taken, this really is a consecration of a long democratic struggle, of a truly loyal conquest of power,” he added.

Outside the PASTEF building, traders wait for customers after putting up their carts with fruits and vegetables under trees.

Locals mostly move on foot or in horse-drawn carts, while some own cars that spew clouds of orange dust as they pass.

The village requires crucial infrastructure, such as paved roads and a health clinic.

Fabienne Dione, a shopkeeper, told AFP that locals expect the incoming president to make improvements.

“We expect a lot from him. The village for example needs a hospital. He also needs to invest in education to give our children a chance of succeeding,” she said.

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