Tidiane Sy woks for the third largest global news agency,
Agence France Presse (AFP), in Dakar. He has a BA (1986)
and a Masters' certificate (1988) in English as well as
a Higher Degree in journalism (1992) from the School of
Communications in Senegal, CESTI, which has produced a number
of the leading French-speaking journalists in Africa.
Before embarking on a career in journalism, he briefly
After a stint working at an advertising agency (1988) in
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, he returned home to study journalism,
after which he joined the Senegalese satirical weekly newspaper,
Le Cafard Libéré - The Liberated Cockroach-
before moving onto other independent newspapers. He opted
for the relative 'freedom' of the burgeoning independent
press because the state-run media, which dominated the pre-democracy
era in Africa, were generally the mouthpiece of authoritarian
Switching from print to broadcasting for a change, he headed
south to Johannesburg to work for Channel Africa (of the
South African Broadcasting Corporation). South Africa was
the start of his continental odyssey, which has taken him
from Cape to Cairo, via Addis Ababa and Abidjan. He has
spent the past decade on a journalistic voyage of discovery
- covering elections, summits, culture, sport, society and,
regrettably, Africa's conflicts - including the simmering
20 year old rebellion in his own country, Senegal, in the
southern Casamance Province - his chosen field of research.
Mr. Sy intends to explore the root causes of this low-level
war, which he hopes will lead to some answers and a deeper
understanding of the Casamance crisis. Just before he learned
that he had been offered a Fulbright New Century Scholars
award, he travelled on assignment for the AFP to Casamance
in December 2002. The result: a series of a dozen reports
on the effects of the war.
Mr Sy is a former member of the South African Institute
of International Affairs. He was also privileged to be able
to contribute to the Transparency International Global Corruption
The Separatist Casamance Conflict: Religious, Ethnic
or Identity Crisis?
The 20-year separatist conflict in the southern Casamance
region of Senegal is one of Africa's longest, but least
documented, wars. It is one of the continent's "forgotten"
civil wars and answers to all the criteria of sectarian,
ethnic and cultural strife, which has spilled over Senegal's
borders into neighbouring Guinea-Bissau and the Gambia.
Virtual separation from most of the rest of Senegal --
have contributed to Casamance feeling isolated and marginalised
by central government in the capital Dakar. This disaffection
sparked the 1982 separatist movement for the independence
Despite its longevity, the conflict in southern Senegal
gets little of the world's attention or global media coverage--
and virtually no multilateral or international intervention
compared to the wars in Sudan, Angola, Liberia and Sierra
Perhaps, because the Casamance separatist movement (Mouvement
des Forces Democratiques de la Casamance, MFDC) has not
recruited and drugged 'child soldiers' to fight its war
or hacked off civilians' limbs with machetes. Yet, civilians
have been maimed and killed and tens of thousands of people
displaced - internally and across Senegal's borders.
My proposed research, titled "The Separatist Casamance
Conflict: Religious, Ethnic or Identity Crisis?" will
address the above anomalies, investigate and analyse the
root causes of the crisis, as well as explore ways forward
towards a possible peaceful resolution in Casamance.