THE UNFINISHED QUEST OF OMAR BLONDIN DIOP

THE UNFINISHED QUEST OF OMAR BLONDIN DIOP
THE UNFINISHED QUEST OF OMAR BLONDIN DIOP

(SenePlus) – Fifty-one years after his dramatic death in the prisons of the authoritarian regime of Léopold Sédar Senghor, a new biography retraces the epic journey of Senegalese revolutionary activist Omar Blondin Diop. Published on May 11, 2022 by Jimsaan, on the occasion of the anniversary of his disappearance, “This long quest – Life and death of Omar Blondin Diop” by researcher Florian Bobin is, according to the report in the newspaper Le World, the challenge of meticulously reconstructing the extraordinary destiny of this icon of the anti-imperialist struggle in Africa.

As Boubacar Boris Diop prefaces in his moving tribute, Blondin Diop embodied this African youth eager for social change. Son of doctors trained in the prestigious Colonial Normal Schools, the brilliant student became in 1965 the first Senegalese to graduate from the École Normale Supérieure of Saint-Cloud, in France. It was there that he established friendships with renowned intellectuals such as Jean-Paul Sartre and met Jean-Luc Godard who cast him in his film “La Chinoise”. But far from making him conformist, this social climb only reinforces his Marxist-Leninist convictions, as reported by a friend worried to see him openly oppose President Senghor.

Indeed, Blondin Diop brought his radical activism to light during the events of May 68, during which he gave body and soul alongside Parisian and Dakar students demanding more political freedoms. In Senegal, the student revolt is violently put down by Senghor’s police. From then on, the intellectual never stopped denouncing the neo-colonial character of the regime, even daring to assert to the ULB that “the independence of Africa never existed”. Well documented, Bobin’s book reproduces in great detail the passionate speeches of Blondin Diop to which no audience could resist.

But the young man’s total commitment does not stop at the podium. As the author reports after years of investigation, Blondin Diop left to train in armed combat with Fatah and the Black Panthers, in the hope of freeing imprisoned comrades. A fatal decision, since Mali extradited him to Dakar in 1971. Despite a speedy trial, he remained upright and dignified in his cell, refusing to deny his ideas. But his health declined and he tragically died at just 26 years old, on the island of Gorée.

If the Senghor regime then claims that he committed suicide, it is the portrait of the revolutionary martyr that stands out in people’s memories. Thus, this biography pays tribute to the determination of Omar Blondin Diop, who will forever remain an emblematic figure of the anti-imperialist struggle in Africa. Fifty years later, his intellectual and political legacy continues to inspire new generations.

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