My tears flow on our days and nights spent full of friendship. My tears roll down my cheeks, silent, to hear myself repeating at will: “Why him? My tears slide into salted beads feeling my heart explode in pain. My tears, a thick veil of tears, freeze in a frozen ocean. My friend Pape Diouf is gone and I will mourn him forever.
I could tell you…
As if his days were only devoted to football, I could tell you many anecdotes of his confidences on OM, PSG, on Jean-Michel Aulas, an opponent for whom he had the greatest respect. I could tell you his banners to the address of anyone who attacked him or dared to speak ill of Marseille. He had this faculty of erecting impassable walls by his quick wit, his words and his verbal percussion, that he cooked in anyone who dared to challenge him. I could tell you how we prepared his radio and TV pleas, when he was attacked on his football record, where you can tell that he was not far from taking over the presidency of a large French club in the summer of 2019. I could tell you about our discussions about our respective papers, him for a great evening paper and me for the Africa point. However, there are multitudes of other images that continually come back to me and that still make me feel its presence.
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A man of intuition
I remember this Sunday, lost in the countryside from Senegal to Ngaparou, we had trouble finding the new house of one of his friends, the Senegalese boss of the building. We had been filming for a while in search of a vaguely scribbled address on a piece of paper to join a New Year’s lunch. Always calm and never resigned, he had finally found the right route by relying on his intuition. In the rear view mirror, Madame Diouf gave me a look, a knowing and soothing smile. She knows him as his “Big One”. She knew that he would trust his instinct, his skill, his own judgment to allow us to arrive safely. That was Pope, a huge man who trusted his guts, but also an accomplished leader steeped in culture.
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In the intimacy of our meetings at the Terroubi in Dakar, we discussed at length on Omar Khayyam and often on Baltasar Gracian. He had a preference for The Court Man from the Spanish Jesuit writer and I for The Art of Caution. ” Up there, courage is one of the main conditions required of a hero, especially since such courage, spurs everything that is great, refines his taste, puffs up his heart, raises his thoughts and his manners and disposes him to majesty. “ On proofreading, I better understand his inclination for this opus and his place in the world. They are in phase with his fierce and equal determination to accomplish himself and to elevate the other towards the best.
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A plural man
He demonstrated this as a journalist, player agent, president of the emblematic Olympique de Marseille. The unanimous tributes show more than ever that it is an integral part of our history, of our common heritage. This clay of three cultures, French, Senegalese and Marseilles, that nothing opposes, on the contrary, and which were accomplished wonderfully in a magnificent set. He proved it at each of our reunions. The weight of the years disappeared when we found ourselves, in a trio of lovebirds that we were composing with Olivier Théophile, a second youth around a good Dakar table after dark. We granted the pleasure of the taste buds to the art of conversation at Barolo or Alkimia, around big and small things that sometimes led us until the early hours. The man was impressive. He had the ability to hide behind his tightly closed face and showed that he was on his guard, quick to disarm any intrusion with a simple look. An almost imperceptible frown was enough to keep the beautiful speakers at bay. But, in our moments of joy, her smile widened her face and made her look youthful. It harmonized so well with our carefree moments spent together.
Duty and generosity
I was also struck by his sense of duty. He would have been too modest to mention the pro bono actions he was taking away from all publicity. Few people know his tireless fight to provide assistance and defend the rights of the weakest. During the last tabaski, no less than 12 sheep he had given to families in need. Hay of Cassandre who announced to him a severe rout at the municipal elections of 2014 in Marseille. Despite the presidential majority’s renunciation of not standing as a candidate, accusing him of dividing the left, he listened only to his inflexible and own conviction, wishing to make a different voice heard in favor of the rights and dignity of his fellow citizens. . Pape Diouf was thus, moved by the best intentions for his country, for his club, for football, for Africa and for his friends. Like that day in 2013 when I asked him to accompany me in the creation of the Club Sport & Democracy, he said yes immediately.
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I was moved and touched to see a man with such a rich and flamboyant journey take part in such a spontaneous and enthusiastic way in a great associative adventure. At the first meeting of our office in May 2013, with the kindness of Valérie Fourneyron and Benoît Hamon, he agreed to warmly share the vice-presidency with Serge Simon. This anecdote says a lot about the qualities of my missing friend, who was an honest man in the 18th century sense, a conscious humanist. We talked politics with some disagreements listening to each other, without a word higher than the other. I learned many things, which simply brought me back to life.
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It is late in that dark and silent night. After being picked up in the middle of the night by the cohort of alerts on my smartphone, I shoot photos and videos in search of happy times, all still gripped by the pain of his disappearance. The next world will no longer be the same. This damn curse also touched me, but in its most benign form. She kidnapped my friend, my brother, and so many lives destroyed by this scourge. We are at war, the first in my lifetime on French soil, against an invisible enemy that I doom to the gémonies. Deeply sad, touched by the symptoms of cruel pain, I tremble as I write this post in memory of the great man. But let her know that I do not fear darkness and its procession of fears, because Pope Diouf radiated me with his light. Thank you Pope. Goodbye, friend.
LOOKthis video with Pape Diouf in interview about the transfer from Valbuena to Lyon
* Ex-journalist, president of Club Sport & Démocratie, Sylvère-Henry Cissé is also a speaker and communications consultant