Bouts de bois de Dieu, by Ousmane Sembène

Published on :

A classic of African French-language literature, regularly reissued in paperback format, Les bouts de bois de Dieu is a militant novel written by the Senegalese Ousmane Sembène. Inspired by Marxism, the narrative stages the class struggle at work in colonial Africa through the romanticized evocation of the Dakar-Niger railway workers’ strike of 1948. With tight writing and no Manichaeism , the novel has not aged a single wrinkle.

The classic of the classics

The Woods of God is the classic of African classics, taught today in all good schools across the French-speaking world. Americans talk about ” African canon To designate the essential works of the continent, of which this book is undoubtedly a part. Released in 1960, it is the work of the Senegalese Ousmane Sembène. The latter is better known as a filmmaker, but it is undoubtedly because we forget that the “father of African cinema” began his career as a novelist. In reality, Sembène had several careers: he was a fisherman, a tirailleur during the Second World War, a railway worker, a chain worker at Renault factories in Paris, a docker and a trade unionist in Marseille, before embarking on a career as a novelist, then filmmaker.

According to his biographers, Sembène had early stopped his studies at the age of 13. He had recovered there during the long years he spent in Marseille after the war. He followed courses in the schools of the Communist Party and especially read a lot, borrowing books from the library of the port, held by the CGT. This is how he discovered Germinal of Emile Zola who served him for The Woods of God, Sembène’s most successful novel. The mastery of narration, the economy of means, the efficiency of the narrative which characterize this novel are all the more astonishing since man was a complete autodidact in literature, who had not passed through any school of ” creative writing

What does the novel say?

The Woods of God is the fictionalized account of an historic event, the great strike of railway workers on the Dakar-Niger line, which took place in 1947-1948. Sembène’s novels always start from a social indignation. It was already the case for his first novel The black dock worker (1956) whose starting point was the strikes of Marseille dockers during the period of the French colonial wars. These strikers were trying to prevent the loading of arms for Indochina. The Woods of God is dedicated to strikers who struggled for almost six months to wrest from their employers decent wages, a pension and family allowances, rights previously reserved for French employees.

The author, who worked as a railroader at the time, followed the strikers closely, and witnessed the sacrifices and courage of the actors personally. This is all that his book stages through a narrative shared between the three big cities, namely Dakar, Thiès and Bamako, served by the railway line. Progressively, the tension increased and we saw the strikers and the colonial police confronting each other in an increasingly violent manner.

The war that the two camps are waging and that the novel tells with a consummate sense of the dramatic and the tragic, has an epic dimension because its challenges seem to exceed the demands of the moment and engage the future. These challenges are borne by exceptional men, but also by determined and courageous women. The prominent role that women play in this novel is truly revolutionary, which earned Ousmane Sembène to be qualified at the time of the publication of the novel ” first African feminist novelist

Powerful women

Ousmane Sembène’s literary and cinematographic work is distinguished by its denunciation of the moral and material suffering of which women are victims in African society. But the novelist refuses to represent women only as victims. In The Woods of God, he placed them at the forefront to better reflect their importance in the evolution of social and political life in Africa. Wives, mothers or sisters of the strikers, we see them in solidarity with the revolt of their men. They are the soul and the weapon of the strikers’ protest.

It is also the great march undertaken by women between Thiès and Dakar and its accomplishment despite many obstacles, which will be decisive in the successful outcome of the railway workers’ strike. It is probably no accident that this heroic adventure is set to music and directed by Penda, a former prostitute. By falling under the rifle bullets, it imposed itself as a martyr of the cause and as such perhaps the real protagonist of the story, and in a way more important than its male heroes.

Three reasons to read or re-read this novel

You must read this novel to savor the storyteller’s talent as a novelist who skillfully mixes narration, description and portraits, without disdaining humor and a taste for spicy detail. The result is captivating.

Readers will also appreciate the power of the fable behind the militant work. In his analysis of Wood pieces of God, Wole Soyinka mentioned his epic dimension as the main interest of this novel. ” And as it happens in all epics, humanity is renewed “Writes the Nigerian playwright and novelist. For Soyinka, the revolt that is at the heart of the plot of this novel is a call to Africans to transform their society by taking charge of their own destiny.

Finally, we cannot stress enough the strength and grandeur of the universe without Manichaeism which unfolds in these pages. Here, steeped in respect despite the antagonisms which oppose them, beings live and die for their ideas and aspire to a world where we “fight without hatred”, as recalled by the lament with which the story ends. It is undoubtedly this humanism underlying Ousmane Sembène’s committed vision that makes the reading of his work so fascinating.

The Woods of God, by Ousmane Sembène. Available in pocket collection, Pocket Presses, 379 pages (First publication in 1960).


In Senegal, “intimate” festivities

“Ramadan will be a very quiet month”, predicts imam Samba Diao of the Ouakam district of Dakar, before specifying that this festive period will be lived above all “In privacy, at home and with family”, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Senegal, a country of 15.8 million inhabitants, 95% Muslim, has six deaths and nearly 450 confirmed positive cases, is preparing to live, from this Friday 24 or Saturday 25, depending on the appearance of the moon, a special month of fasting.

→ LIVE. Coronavirus: the latest information in France and worldwide

No mosques, no collective prayers

Since the declaration of a state of emergency by President Macky Sall on March 24, mosques have been closed and rallies have been prohibited. The ban on collective prayers and the introduction of a night curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. will disrupt the usual rhythm of this holy month.

The nafila, prayer evenings at the mosque until late at night, will be prohibited. “It was a moment of meditation but also of reunion which allowed us to exchange”, is saddened by Younouss, a 30-year-old Dakar resident. Unlike other prohibited measures, and unless there are contraindications, Muslims are invited to fast, a practice which is among the five pillars of Islam.

The secretary of the association of imams and ulemas of Senegal, Imam Oumar Diene, wants to see in this crisis the positive side: “We are forced to stay at home, which encourages family meditation and allows us to have more time to read the Koran. As our Christian parents experienced with Easter, we will adapt. “

Economic repercussions and solidarity

These festivities are generally conducive to consumption, families receiving a lot and outings being more numerous. But this year, because of the Covid-19, expenses will be lower. In addition, households monitor their accounts, fearing rising prices as much as the shortage of certain commodities.

→ ANALYSIS. Africa and the coronavirus

What about alms, which is a duty during Ramadan? Again, the context is not very favorable for donations, and the poorest households are more vulnerable than ever. If Ibrahima goes “Continue to offer friends or certain poor households enough to cut the fast as long as they can”, Younouss does not will be able to give, for lack of cash receipts. There will also be no “popular ndogou” in the streets (distribution of food for the breaking of the fast) or breaks in the fast in the mosques. There are still many associations that will distribute food packs and cleaning products to families in need.


“Africa helpless in the face of Covid-19 would be a threat to the world”

LARGE INTERVIEW – The president of Senegal, where the coronavirus has claimed very few victims so far, explains the radical medical and economic strategy he has put in place, despite the limited resources of his country.

“The State is in the process of distributing food and other basic products,” said Macky Sall, who on April 11, visiting the Dakar Autonomous Port, kicked off the delivery of the government assistance inside Senegal. TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP

Populated by 16 million inhabitants, Senegal currently has less than 400 cases of contamination declared. Since the start of the epidemic, four people have died, including Pape Diouf, the former CEO of the OM.

LE FIGARO. – Has the bulk of the epidemic wave already arrived in your country?

Macky SALL. – We can’t say it straight away. Researchers predict the peak of the epidemic in June in Africa, but history has taught us that epidemics don’t always go according to plan. The best that can be done now is to focus on the effective response to the disease, both preventively and curatively, through individual and collective effort.

There are currently few reported cases of Covid-19 in Senegal. How do you explain it?

Several factors must be considered to explain the low number of cases: the closing of borders from the first days of the onset of the disease to block imported cases, the prohibition of large gatherings

This article is for subscribers only. You have 90% left at

Subscribe: € 1 the first month

cancellable at any time


Senegal imports rice for distribution to the poorest households

Published on :

In Senegal, 139,000 tonnes of rice for the poorest households will be distributed in the coming days. A response to the economic consequences linked to the pandemic in the country. Tons of rice were massively imported, as the country was not self-sufficient.

from our correspondent in Dakar,

Hundreds of bags of rice on trucks … All will be delivered to around one million households, which represents the poorest 8 million Senegalese. This rice arrived by sea at the port of Dakar and was received by President Macky Sall himself.

A massive import: in the emergency plan, only 900 tonnes of local rice were provisioned. In other words, only one grain in 100 comes from Senegal in this ambitious food aid program.

Four importers shared the market for around 27 billion CFA francs, more than 40 million euros according to the award notice. An import which reveals the weakness of the rice sector in Senegal.

Rice growing, however ancient. Authorities have often sought to energize it. In 2014 Macky Sall set up a subsidy program to mechanize production.

Nothing to do, electoral promise, self-sufficiency in rice is still not a reality. Local production is stagnating at around one million tonnes per year… far from the target of the 1,600,000 tonnes required to have a Thiéboudiene – the national dish accompanied by cereals – 100% Senegalese.

This large order to external suppliers at the time of the pandemic is a reminder, explains Alioune Fall director of the Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research

The most urgent, say connoisseurs of the industry, is to encourage a little more the purchase of local rice by consumers who too often turn to imported bags. Teaching, the only way to encourage production in Senegal.


“The Ambiguous Adventure” by Cheikh Hamidou Kane

Published on :

The Ambiguous Adventure of the Senegalese Cheikh Hamidou Kane published in 1961 is a flagship novel of the African literary corpus. Through the story of its protagonist torn between Africa and the West, this novel depicts the fears, dilemmas and dramas of the African elite at the end of colonization.

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the independence of Senegal that we are celebrating today, you wanted to dedicate your chronicle of this Saturday to a great classic of Senegalese literature.

One could even say a great classic of African literature in short. The Ambiguous Adventure by Cheikh Hamidou Kane is ranked among the 10 greatest African literary works of the 20th century. All Africans know this novel, which is on the curriculum of high schools across the continent. Some might even recite whole passages by heart, as this book marked imaginations.

His fame would have even crossed the borders of the continent

Thanks to the translations made of this novel into all the major languages ​​of the world, many people were able to discover it even outside the continent. Invited to participate in the colloquium of the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of his opus, Cheikh Hamidou Kane said what was his surprise to discover during a trip to Istanbul in the 1980s that the Turks also knew this novel. ” Turkish journalists told me, he explained, it looks like you wrote it for us, when I had the impression, continues Cheikh Hamidou Kane, of having told a typically Senegalese story, for Senegalese.

How to explain, that so many people around the world recognize themselves in this typically Senegalese history?

This is explained by the universal scope of this experience of the separation between two cultures, two civilizations, which is at the heart of this novel. At the start, it is the story of an autobiographical experience, that of the young Hamidou Kane trying to find his bearings in Paris where he was in the 1950s and where he was studying philosophy. Raised at home in a collectivist, pious and united society, which believes that ” man is the remedy of man “As the Wolof saying goes, he was confronted in Europe with the values ​​of Western culture, based on exacerbated individualism leading the human in material, psychological, mental and moral isolation. The student Hamidou Kane was torn between his rejection of Western individualism and the seductions of this advanced society, which places great emphasis on the lights of reason and technical progress. In the novel, this inner conflict that Cheikh Hamidou Kane experienced in his early youth is embodied by the main character, Samba Diallo. Just like the author, the protagonist, anchored in the thought of Islam, is sent to France, to acquire there the knowledge and the values ​​of the conquering West, versed in what a character of the novel describes as ” the art of winning without being right ” Consumed by loneliness and a deep sense of uprooting, Samba Diallo will sink into an identity crisis from which he will not emerge unscathed.

A tragedy, therefore …

A personal and generational tragedy, which refers to that of the founding fathers of postcolonial Senegal. The Senghor, the Mamadou Dia whose author was close, recognized themselves in the character of Samba Diallo. This is also apparently the case of the current head of state of Senegal, Macky Sall who is said to have declared, when receiving Cheikh Hamidou Kane for his 90th birthday two years ago: ” We are all Samba Diallo ” If this narrative of formation, camped in Africa at the time of colonial domination, touches readers beyond its geographical and historical referent, it is also because of its writing which masterfully combines strength and grace, l imagination and the real and which reminds us that the drama of Samba Diallo was above all a drama of the human condition.

► Read or re-read The Ambiguous Adventure by Cheikh Hamidou Kane, published in 1961 and available in pocket collection.


“Senghor does not separate poetry from politics”

From Joal (Senegal), where he was born in 1906, to Verson (France), where he died in 2001, Léopold Sédar Senghor marked the twentieth century with his literary and political talents. Literary critic Boniface Mongo-Mboussa returns to the duality of an exceptional man.

RFI: How to characterize the literary work of Léopold Sédar Senghor?

Boniface Mongo-Mboussa : Senghor’s work is an ode to Africa. This praise of the continent takes place both intellectually and poetically. From an intellectual point of view, it is the promotion of Negro art; poetically, it is the celebration of African women, landscapes and civilizations of the continent.

Senghor is an elegiac poet, a poet of memory. A man worked by the passage of time, divided between a harmonious past lost forever – the famous kingdom of childhood -, a violent, elusive present, and a hypothetical future, the outcome of which is fatally death. In all of this, the poet wants to be Dyali(griot), with a very specific mission: to glorify his lineage, his friends, his dead, his country and his civilization.

Why does the Normalien passionate about literature get involved in politics?

Senghor always thought he fell into politics. We never believed it, at least not quite. And yet he did not lie when he said that. Politics caught up with him in the country in 1945, when he came to collect Serer oral poetry for the writing of a thesis.

Asked insistently by Lamine Gueye to be a candidate for the second college for the election as deputy of the French Union to the Constituent Assembly, he finally accepted the offer of Lamine Gueye and the S.F.I.O. Then everything is linked. In 1956, he was appointed Secretary of State to the Presidency of the Council in the government of Edgar Faure. In 1959, he was elected president of the Assembly of the ephemeral federation of Mali. On September 5, 1960, he was elected President of Senegal for a 7-year term. He was re-elected in 1963, 1968, 1973 and 1978. On December 3, 1980, he resigned from his presidential office in favor of Abdou Diouf.

During these twenty years of presidency, did he remain a poet?

Senghor ruled his country as a teacher. In other words, with method and organizational spirit, two values ​​dearly acquired among the White Fathers and at Khâgne in Paris! His life during the year was thus organized: during the school season, he was president in Senegal; in summer, he is a poet in Normandy, in Verson, homeland of his second wife Colette Hubert. In his poetry, as I said, he celebrates African culture; in his politics, he gives primacy to culture over economics. Senghor does not separate poetry from politics. For him, ” poetically interpret the world “Does not object to” change Politically. Hence this beautiful title, Poetry of Action, which he gives to his intellectual and political autobiography, published in 1980.

Are the values ​​defended in his work those applied in his policy?

In his poetry, he celebrates his native land, brotherhood, fidelity, memory, dignity, honor, bravery. In politics, he was very dignified. He advocates rooting while opening up to the world, to France. Hence the French-speaking world. We blamed him. It was to forget his sense of loyalty. He knew what he owed France, the White Fathers who educated him, his masters at Louis-Le-Grand, his classmate Pompidou, in Paris.

In the case which opposes him to Mamadou Dia, is he still faithful to these values?

At independence, Senghor still hesitated between political life and the career of professor, especially of poet. He doubts the solidity of the “republiquettes” resulting from the Balkanization of Africa. Mamadou Dia does not have these states of mind. He takes his office as President of the Council – which leads the action of the government – very seriously. It imposes a system of agricultural economics which takes the feudal marabouts by surprise, the Dakar Chamber of Commerce and the intermediaries, some of whom are members of the National Assembly.

Irritated, the latter accused him of authoritarianism – which is partly true – collecting signatures for a motion of censure. Dia reared up, evacuated the Assembly and arrested four leading deputies. But the deputies meet at the home of Lamine Gueye, the president of the Assembly, and vote the motion of censure. Dia is accused of having planned a coup – a constitutional coup. And he is doomed.

A conviction so severe that it still divides Senegalese society. What many Senegalese blame Senghor for is not so much the fact of having arrested Dia. The latter had impulsively violated the constitution. What they blame Senghor for is the severity with which he used this opportunity to get rid of Dia, who was beginning to overshadow him. In this conflict, Senghor acted with method, composure and cunning. He advanced masked behind the deputies; Dia, he, whole and straight, did not do in lace. Hence its fall. Again, Senghor proved that he could be a poet and a politician.

But, in the end, was he rather a president or rather a poet?

Finally… A poet-president! Not one without the other. But if he had to choose, without hesitation, he would have chosen the poet. He was not fooled by the vanity of political glory. However, he carried out his two functions with rigor and dignity. In this, he denied the order of Plato, which prohibited the poet’s right to rule the city.


Pope Diouf, “gray eminence of football” and OM, swept away by the coronavirus

The death of the former president of OM, Pape Diouf, victim of the coronavirus, caused a deep emotion on the football planet. Back on the atypical career of a man who had nothing predestined to exercise such functions.

Football fans have had a heavy heart since the announcement of the death of Pape Diouf, Tuesday, March 31, from the consequences of the coronavirus. Even if the former president of Olympique de Marseille embodied Marseille, tributes pour in from all over France and the world. Rarely has a sports executive received so much praise.

Pape Diouf, whose real name Madaba Diouf, like his grandfather, was not intended for a football career. Born in 1951 in Abéché in Chad, where his father, a Senegalese soldier, former veteran of the Second World War, was in post, he landed in Marseille at the age of 18. The father wants him to follow the same path. “You should know that my father never went to school. He made his living through the army. It was there that he learned to read and write. For him, when at 17-18 years old, he saw that I was bifurcating studies, he wanted to assure by sending me to France so that I enlist in the army “, had told Pape Diouf in 2009 in the program “We are not lying”.

“I only wanted to go home”

But the young man does not have the same aspirations. He does not go to the barracks and finds refuge in a youth center: “Very quickly, the director of the center distinguished me a little. I had stood up to the boss of the place and he made me a sort of pawn in the foyer. I had a single room and I no longer paid for the foyer. I stayed there for eight months. ” At the same time, he discovers the Marseille city. But love at first sight is not there, “but rather a huge blow of the blues”. “When I arrived, I had only one desire, it was to go back home. Marseille, it is after we get to know the city, get used to it, understand it and understand it. ‘love’, as he had confided to the newspaper Le Monde.

The Senegalese, freshly arrived in France, thirsts for knowledge and has desires for ENA [l’école nationale d’administration]. “It was at random from an article written in the Nouvel Observateur which was devoted to ENA, I had a fascination for this school. I had read that one multiplies the chances by doing Law and Sciences Po This is how I wanted to pursue this sector “, he remembered on the set of” We are not lying “. Pape Diouf passes the entrance exam to Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence, but his passage is not decisive.

From Post to OM

It’s a little job at the Post Office that will turn his life upside down. There he met Tony Salvatori, a PTT inspector, freelance in the football section of the local newspaper La Marseillaise. The latter offered to join him and collect the results for Sunday. “The Marseillaise gives him the opportunity later to write a first article on women’s basketball, in 1974. Then to become a chronicler of Marseille sports life, so of OM”, describes journalist Hervé Penot in L’Équipe. It is the beginning of the adventure of a lifetime.

In 1987, he joined the editorial staff of a new daily newspaper, Le Sport, intended to compete with the Team. But the experience, which allows him to strengthen his links with the Marseille football community, turns out to be short and lasts only one year. Pape Diouf finds himself without work. “At the same time, two men intervened: Joseph-Antoine Bell and Basile Boli [respectivement ex-gardien de but et ancien défenseur de l’OM]. Both wanted me to take care of their careers. I knew the principles and the main lines of the profession of player agent. I hesitated, given the reputation of this profession. In the end, I made the decision to do so, “said Pape Diouf in 2008 in the pages of OM Mag.

The contracts are linked. “Over the years, he will emerge from his all too easily conveyed image, that of the African agent, when he had a number of French players in his portfolio. Grégory Coupet, Sylvain Armand, Jean-Michel Ferri, captain of Nantes , for example, have integrated its structure. Like Basile and Roger Boli, Marcel Desailly, Marc-Vivien Foé, Nouredine Naybet, Abedi Pelé, Frédéric Kanouté, Samir Nasri in his early days, Didier Drogba and many others “, underlines the Team.

A figure of OM

In 2004, he wore a new cap, becoming general manager of OM, then president a year later. Until 2009, he managed the club in Marseille. The titles are not there, but thanks to him, patiently build the foundations of the team that was going to finish champion of France in 2010.

The only black leader of a large European football club, Pape Diouf is also a spokesperson when it comes to combating racism. “I am an anomaly because, before me, there is no example, he had declared to the World in 2008. I became symbolic, because I occupy a post which one does not give to the Blacks and the Be careful, this is not a complex of persecution, just the bitter acknowledgment of reality. “

In 2014, following controversial remarks by coach Willy Sagnol on “the typical African player”, he stepped up to the plate on the antenna of France 24 to denounce with the talent for publicity that we know him “a society where more and more the word is said to be liberated, where any attitude even the most provocative is admitted”. For him, it is important to remember that “French football would not be absolutely what it is without the contribution of all these people from elsewhere and mainly from Africa”.

Marseillais forever

After five years of presidency, Pape Diouf is finally dismissed by the management of OM in 2009. “He left his Marseille scene, without saying a word, but was not done with various obligations, between TVs, creation of a school of journalism in Marseille and multiple appearances in Africa or elsewhere in football seminars “, summarizes the Team.

Always so much appreciated by the inhabitants of Marseille, Pope even tries to increase his popularity in politics. He was a candidate for mayor of Marseille in 2014 at the head of a citizen collective. “I want to turn my back on any political approach, because when a lamppost is broken, it is neither left nor right to try to repair it,” he said then. This rather anchored figure on the left only collects around 6% of the votes, but his image will remain unscathed in the eyes of the people of Marseilles.

More than ever, they are in mourning today. “Pope will remain forever in the hearts of Marseillais and one of the great craftsmen of the history of this club”, wrote OM in a press release, announcing a tribute to come on its media. In his native country, the emotion is also strong. The Senegalese president, Macky Sall, did not fail to salute his memory: “I learned with emotion the death of Pape Diouf. I pay tribute to this great figure of sport, this great committed leader and eminence gray of football. To his family, on behalf of the nation, I offer my deepest condolences. “


Pope Diouf, the king’s agent – Liberation

As we learn of the disappearance of Pape Diouf Tuesday March 31, 2020, we republish the portrait that painted Release on the last page, in 2002.

In football as elsewhere, money has no smell, but the agent sometimes has honor. This is Pope Diouf’s message. Pope is a players’ agent, a profession assimilated, at best, to a legal racketeering of clubs, at worst, to a machine for laundering dirty money from the community. Big Black in this micmac, Pope wants to be “neither a conscience nor a reference”. But he claims to keep a few principles. Neither double agent nor troubled money: on the calf exchange, Pope is not a loan shark. “In France, the profession is seen from the angle of money, money, money. Business bursts, the agents are questioned. It’s easier to beat them than it is against leaders, coaches or players. But there is the same proportion of indecent people in this profession as in others. I’m not sure that all the mechanics, TV repairers or journalists are OK. ”

Pope, twelve years in the profession, has fifty footballers under his thumb, Marcel Desailly, Laurent Robert or William Gallas, whose course, whims, anxieties and heartache he manages. The job is to heat the laptop by ear, “Not a day without 5, 6, 7 calls from players”, which he concludes with a “OK son, kiss your family!”

Football is a jungle, Pope juggles it, “Sixteen hours a day”, never on vacation, planes up to four times a day. A crazy life. Fortunately, it is well paid. “The word” agent “is used for the words” business “,” bizness “,” money “. When I wake up at 4 in the morning, I have a problem to solve, I don’t say to myself: “Am I going to make a deal at 200,000 or 300,000?” Even if, at some point in the chain, the question will arise. ”

There is a Diouf style, which the Pope explains: “I’m not trying to please one or the other. I don’t tell stories to players. I give them the elements of reflection, of appreciation. When Desailly wanted to go from Nantes to Monaco, I insisted that he come rather to Marseille [en 1992]. It only expresses its potential when there is pressure. In Monaco, even if the financial interests were more important, he had the risk of being civilized. In Marseille, there was excitement. ” Winning coup for Desailly, 1993 European champion with Olympique de Marseille (OM).

So, is the agent happy? His reputation is that the Pope builds careers. Don’t just knock and win cash. He likes success before money, even if one brings the other. With his players, he never conceives a relationship “Viable and livable” that if there is “Need joint work”. Clear, “That if one leaves the other, there is a spleen”. Until recently, Pope worked without a contract with his players. What’s the point, “Since the important thing is what is said between us”. Today, international regulations oblige to contract. The more so as there is the risk, for the agent, a species in the process of multiplication, of being bitten by a player. “But if he leaves with another, it is because he no longer wants to be with me. I’m not going to take a gun … “

How the hell did the Pope the Senegalese fall into this? Having grown up in Dakar, he was sent to Marseilles at the age of 18 by his father, a bailiff at the French embassy. “Gaullist from the start, he wanted me to join the French army.” It gets stuck. “I said no and played system D. Searched for a way. I had nothing. “ Pope does odd jobs. Enrolls in Sciences-Po. Without further action. Pass a PTT competition. There met an inspector who collaborates with the Marseillaise, a communist daily. He returned as a freelance journalist. Basketball, then football. OM, ten years of its life. A reference. “Original writing, free, he didn’t get bored with conventions. The real news about OM was him “, testifies a former colleague. “Rigorous, meticulous, attentive, moral”says another. And regular fights with Tapie. “One day, reports Pope, I said to him:” You are fascinating because you can make people believe that two and two make five, but I do not admire you. “” Then he joined the daily Sport, brief attempt to compete with the team. “The strongest experience. Were it not for the disappearance of the newspaper a year later, I would still be a journalist. ”

When Sport stops, “Bamboo shot”. What to do ? African players who became friends Basile Boli, Joseph-Antoine Bell asked him to “Take charge of their business”. “African footballers were exploited copiously. It had to be stopped ”, explains a journalist. Pope : “Existential question: was I going to leave journalism to enter an environment that did not have a good press?” He thinks for a year. Then starts. Solemnly. “The principles of journalists can apply to other professions: the refusal of compromise, of lying. The meaning of the word. The courage to follow through on his ideas. ” Pope creates a small stable on “Ethnic connivance” Afro-Caribbean. “Then others came. Competence has no color or ethnicity. ”

He started a company, a small structure in Marseille with five people. Money circulates in football, it takes its share. Ball game, cash game, “Since i started, i’m told” how far will it go? ” But if this money is in the middle, it is normal that it is the main players in the game who touch it. ” Pope does not forget Senegal. He dreams of creating a football school there with OM “Who would not only take into account the sports report” but would provide alternative training (agriculture, animal husbandry, accounting management, IT …). He launched a fleeting weekly there, the Athletic, a failure. “Not to be concerned with Senegal is to deny a part of myself. Integration in France is a badly posed problem. No matter how well I integrate, marry all the local tics, there will always be people for whom I will be the black man landed from Africa. However, I am from Marseille, I speak like them, I support OM … Same for my children. They grow up with their white buddies, and then, at 18, go on a trip, and realize that their passport is looked at twice, and not the friend’s passport. ”

Pope, to relax, reads Maurice Duverger, of political science, he is a serious boy. To stay relaxed, he avoids talking about OM and its setbacks. Pope is 50 years old, four children, none is a footballer. He knows success, but his story, all things considered, is it a fairy tale? “In this profession of agent, you put your hands in shit,” explains a relative. Then there is a law of silence which links all the actors. Family secrets. They all crossed unclear stories, which they accepted. At one point, you can no longer play the moralist. ” Pope always wonders, thinks of hanging up, says nothing about it. He will not write his journey: “Either we write everything, or we write nothing.” Pity.


1951 Birth in Abéché (Chad). His parents join Dakar.

1969 Land in Marseille.

1975 Becomes freelance at “la Marseillaise”.

1977 Start writing about OM.

1987 Leaves “la Marseillaise” for “l’Hebdo à Marseille”, then “le


1990 Become a player agent.

Michel Henry


“He will leave a unique memory in Marseille”: the football world mourns the former president of OM Pape Diouf


All info on

Coronavirus: the pandemic that worries the planet

DISAPPEARANCE – The announcement of the death of the former president of Olympique de Marseille Pape Diouf, who died on Tuesday in Senegal after having contracted the coronavirus, had the effect of a blast. Tributes from the world of football are multiplying to pay it a last tribute.

Pape Diouf was an esteemed leader. Pape Diouf is a popular man. Contaminated by the coronavirus, the former president of OM (2005-2009) died on Tuesday March 31 in Dakar in Senegal, where he spent part of the year. RTS, the Senegalese public television channel, announced it at the start of the evening, information confirmed by those close to AFP. The businessman, hospitalized in the Senegalese capital and placed on respiratory assistance, was to be repatriated overnight in Nice by medical plane. But his condition deteriorated, the plane was unable to take off and he died on Senegalese soil. He was 68 years old.

On Twitter, everyone unanimously salutes the memory of the former leader of Olympique de Marseille. Benjamin Mendy, who went through the Marseille club (2013-2016), pays tribute to “a great president but above all a huge man, who will always have represented OM and his values ​​with dignity”. Florian Thauvin, who is still on the Canebière, also shares his sadness. “He will leave a unique memory in Marseille,” writes the darling of the Vélodrome. “Thoughts moved for his family and loved ones.”

Former journalist at The Marseillaise, Pape Diouf also held the position of players’ agent. He notably managed the interests of Marcel Desailly, William Gallas, Habib Beye, Didier Drogba and even Basile Boli. “Pope has been my guardian angel throughout my career, a very beautiful friend. His unique voice will be forever missed,” tweeted the author of the raging whistle that offered the Champions League to OM in 1993.

You left too early, I will never forget you– Samir NASRI

Among the players he advised, the man with the dark mustache and the broad smile marked one in particular. “Few people in the world of football have touched me or made an impact like you have had in my life or in my career,” writes Samir Nasri, the former midfielder of Arsenal and Man City. , trained at OM (2004-2008). “You have always been a mentor, you have been my first agent, you have been my president, and it is with a heavy heart that I must say goodbye. You left too early, I will never forget you. “

Appointed president of OM in 2005, Pape Diouf participated by restructuring the club in the quest for the title of champion of France in 2010, the first after 17 long years without the slightest title. Renowned and recognized for his eloquence and his elocution, he animated for behind the scenes of Ligue 1, according to his assists with his Lyon counterpart Jean-Michel Aulas. “Pope was a great president, very efficient, respectable and respected,” said the president of OL in a tweet. “I had deep respect for him. I join in the grief of all of his family and friends.”

Son of Bernard, the other great president of OM, who brought Marseilles to the top of Europe in 1993, Stéphane Tapie cries on Twitter his “friend” and “big brother”, with whom he had a fraternal relationship.

Throughout the evening following the announcement of the disappearance of Pape Diouf, many other expressions of sympathy, of players, of leaders, continued to surge on social networks.

On the same subject

And also


Death of Pape Diouf, former president of OM, killed by coronavirus

Published on : Modified :

Pape Diouf, 68, died on Tuesday March 31 of the Covid-19, when he was to be transferred from Dakar to France. He was an influential figure in French and African football. After being a journalist and then a player agent, the Franco-Senegalese presided over the Marseille Olympics from 2005 to 2009.

With his high stature and his eloquence, Pape Diouf did not leave indifferent. This sports enthusiast, born in 1951 in Abéché in Chad, did not like lukewarmness anyway. Son of a soldier, he was not lacking in character. And it took him to disobey his father by following a different path than his own.

Party at 18 years old in the south of France, Pape Diouf indeed forks. ” The main reason that brought me to France is that I had to go to military school, he told OM Mag in 2008. When I arrived, I realized that it was a real engagement in the army and not a school. I refused to sign up. So I had to support myself by doing odd jobs. The first was as a courier. Then I was a pointer at the port of Marseille and I did handling. Much later, I tried the entrance exam to the Aix-en-Provence IEP which I passed.

A journalist at the heart of the Marseille reactor

His passage at Sciences Po Aix turned out to be anecdotal, however. Through an acquaintance, the Franco-Senegalese integrates the local newspaper The Marseillaise. ” These were fabulous years for me, he assured. I first worked there as a “keyboardist” (person composing on a keyboard the characters of a text to be printed, note), then as a corrector. At the same time, I was already a freelancer in the sports department. I was then offered to devote myself solely to serving sports

After dealing with basketball news, the journalist becomes responsible for the football section and covers that of OM. Pape Diouf finds himself at the heart of the Marseille football reactor.

Transition to the function of agent

In 1987, Pape Diouf joined the editorial staff of the new daily, The sport, supposed to compete The team. The adventure ends after a few months. The reporter finds himself at a turning point in his life. ” At the same time, two men intervened : Joseph-Antoine Bell and Basile Boli, said the person concerned, about the ex-goalkeeper and the former OM defender. Both wanted me to take care of their careers. I knew the principles and the main lines of the profession of player agent. I hesitated, given the reputation of this profession. In the end, I made the decision to do it.

It’s the start of a great period. Pape Diouf, with a large address book, is building a solid network. He manages the interests of big names like Marcel Desailly, Bernard Lama or Didier Drogba.

OM results but no titles

In 2004, a new turning point. Pape Diouf crosses the barrier again. He joined OM as general manager of the club. A few months later, he became president of the Marseille club, thanks to the support of its owner Robert Louis-Dreyfus.

After two suitable first seasons, during which the French team finished 5th in the French Championship, it crossed a level. The Marseillais finish on the podium during the following three exercises.

But, despite more than convincing results, Marseille won no notable trophy during this period. Tensions with other members of the leadership have wiped out Pope Diouf’s presidency in June 2009.

A sympathetic anomaly

During the decade that followed, Pape Diouf remained a diligent observer and commentator on football, French and African in particular. Proud of its journey, the binational liked to define itself as ” a sympathetic anomaly Even if his status as the only black president of a big European football club sometimes made him bitter. ” This is a painful observation, like European and, above all, French society, which excludes ethnic minorities “, He judged in an interview with Young Africa.

More positive, he concluded in OM Mag : ” At this level, we feel that there are a lot of changes today. Barack Obama’s rise in the United States is a case in point… Yes, but you have to be careful. From this point of view, American society is much more ready than French society. I don’t know a French Obama at the gates of the Élysée… It takes time ! I will live until I die without knowing this.