In Senegal, thousands flocked to the town of Thies on the third and fourth of April for celebrations marking the nineteenth anniversary of the country's independence.
In Senegal, thousands flocked to the town of Thies on the third and fourth of April for celebrations marking the nineteenth anniversary of the country's independence. Leading the celebrations was President Leopold Senghor, who has bene head of state since 1960.
SYNOPSIS: Monument Square, in the heart of the town, was bedecked with Senegalese flags, and patriotic signs were everywhere.
Thies, which has a population of more than one hundred thousand, lies some thirty-two miles (61 kms) east north-east of the capital of Dakar. Its main industry is making fertilisers from phosphates mined locally, and it is a market town trading in roundnuts, fruit and rice. The railway station was decorated to welcome the dignitaries and lesser visitors.
As part of the celebrations, President Senghor was to open a new hospital.
Preparations brought a respite for hospital staff. The hospital can expect many young patients. Last year, the Catholic Relief Services reported that, after another cycle of drought and famine in Senegal, about one-third of young children were suffering from extreme malnutrition.
The same day (3 April), the president also officially opened a new stadium, the Lat Dior, in Thies.
President and Madame Senghor arrived for the inauguration ceremony. The stadium has a seating capacity of six thousand places, and it was well filled on this gala day, with tri-colours of green, yellow and red flying.
The following day, Tuesday (4 April), brought the centrepiece of the celebrations, a massive procession through the centre of the town. The official party included the president, members of the government and foreign diplomatic corps, military chiefs and leading figures in the clergy and law.
Prime Minister Abdou Diouf sat by the president, watching schoolchildren march proudly past. Youth was one of the major topics the president later spoke of in his anniversary speech.