What I have learnt from Pr. Amadou DIAW

It was a beautiful Friday. I had decided the day before, to skip some classes to meet Professor Amadou DIAW. I knew nothing about him before I saw a poster announcing his speech in Taipei. My first impression was like “Oh! an African coming in Taiwan for a speech, I have to see that!!!” I thought that if someone can take a flight for just a mere speech then he must be someone very important. As a normal 2.01, I did a quick search on the web and this is what I found: Pr. Amadou DIAW is from Senegal. He studied in France, Germany and the United States. After a work experience, he went back to Senegal, held important functions and finally decided to contribute in improving the education system in his country. He then started “Institut Superieur de Management” abbreviated as ISM literary in English (Graduate Institute of Management) in 1992. It is the first private Business School in West Africa. He is well known for bringing and promoting entrepreneurship into the Senegalese education system.

How I met Amadou DIAW

I was really lucky. I am in contact with Homeward Publishing crew (in mandarin 南方家園出版社). I had the opportunity to deliver a small presentation about one of their publication in Taichung city (it was in mandarin). When I told them I was interested in going to the speech, they invited me to a lunch with Amadou DIAW, and other friends from WowAfrica (previously Lightening Dark), WeiChen and PePe . He was in front from where I was sited and next to him was a Taiwanese lady speaking French fluently (spouse of a former Taiwanese ambassador in Senegal) and Idrissa Mbengue, his collaborator (he studied in Taiwan 10 years ago). I just imagine, how many young people he usually meet during his trips because it makes me not really special but I was there to listen, not to talk.

The world map test

The professor gave me an assignment: “Take this paper and draw the map of the world”, he was smiling. Well, I drew the American and African continents with Africa in the middle. It was too big and there wasn’t enough space for Asia. WeiChen, next to me, asked “What about Asia now?” letting Pr. DIAW laugh and say “I knew it, this is what I was expecting”. He wanted Jessica Jang from Homeward Publishing to do the same assignment. Jessica draw a map with Taiwan in the middle, the American continent at the right and almost no space for Africa. She only draw Madagascar and the corn of the mother continent. Pr. DIAW laughed again and said “yes, this is normal, I was expecting it like this”. This idea of the map came to him when he received a mail from Korea, with a map showing Korea in the middle. He could not believe it. For him, we are all educated differently, this is why we cannot understand each other. The world can be better if we have the same education. For example, the French kid is not really taught about colonialism and its bad consequences on the African continent. This is why he may never respect Africa and the relationship between his country and other part of the world may never change. People should learn the same map everywhere in the world. The normal map according to Pr. DIAW is the one with Africa in the middle. He took my version and he draw the lines of the migrations from Africa to the other part of the world.

The new generation mentality is different

For Pr. DIAW, we young people have a different mentality, compared to them. He met so many young people who want to do things by themselves, who put humanity (human being) in the center of their actions and for who money is not the only objective. Idrissa Mbengue added “this is exactly PPP”, Pr. DIAW ended “yes, exactly People, Planet, Profit”. To tell the truth, I really did not know what it means until a search on the web. It is actually an idea describing the 3 Bottom Lines concept coined by John Elkington. Amadou DIAW looked impressed by WowAfrica crew (Weichen and Pepe told him they are going to Ethiopia in the following days) and by Homeward Publishing crew (especially TzuHua, a very nice lady) who managed to publish the mandarin version of up to 5 African novels. He was so impressed that he wanted me to translate in mandarin his short last word, “[…] I came, I saw open-minded young people and I am not worried about the future […]”.

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Amadou Diaw, Idrissa Mbengue and Qiu Da-Huan

Culture is at the beginning and at the end of development

After the lunch, the guests went to take a rest (they came from the airport directly to the restaurant). 7pm was the time of the speech at National Taiwan Normal University (NTUT). It was about Literature and Culture in Senegal. He talked about the most famous personalities of Senegal and African-descent World, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Aime Cesaire, Leon Damas, Birago Diop, Cheick Anta Diop, etc. Something really important for me, was the importance of culture for those great African minds. “Culture is at the beginning and at the end of development”, this is what Senghor believed. But his notion of culture was too influenced by French culture. When Pr DIAW called me on the stage, wanting me to ask a question, which was about Cheick Anta Diop, we ended up talking about Thomas Sankara from Burkina Faso who had a very different notion of culture, even if he also believed that culture is the most important element in the development of a nation. Being on the stage with Pr DIAW and talking about Anta Diop and Sankara … it’s unforgettable. Pr DIAW talked about the impact of Senegal’s cultural policy in the world, and showed how important it is to be able to promote a country and its culture. It made me think about a term I heard once, “the marketing of the nations”, a concept I wish African Leaders could develop, regarding its importance for our nations.

Entrepreneurship is happiness

Pr DIAW is used to deliver some speeches around the world about Entrepreneurship. Talking a bit about it that Friday night, he said that being entrepreneur is happiness. But it is not easy at all. Every day has its difficulties. He recalled one of his friend who describes the worst day of the entrepreneur as follow: when an entrepreneur goes back home and his dog, not recognizing him, barks, the dinner his wife cooked for him is already cold, his children did not see him all the day and he goes in their room to see them peacefully sleeping.

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Amadou Diaw invited me on the stage to ask a question, I had to.


It was great to meet someone like Pr Amadou DIAW, and it was great for him to come to Taipei. It’s really important for Taiwanese young people to get in touch with personalities from Africa. I was curious to know from Idrissa Mbengue, what really changed in Taiwan. He told me that 10 years before, it was almost impossible to have a speech like this in Taipei, Taiwanese are far more open-minded, and this is very good. I really hope that more African personalities will come and share their point of view about the world.

Corrected by Abdul Kaggwa
Credit Photos: WeiChen Lu
1. I know how to use the internet and look for the information I want.

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