Hello, everyone! Welcome to my blog about my two month experience traveling to Niamey, Niger, to intern with the MNDHP. I want to learn about Niger’s fragile democracy and what steps Nigeriens are taking to improve it.
Nine days until departure (provided the Nigerien embassy comes through with a visa on Friday). I have my Air France tickets, numerous vaccinations, almost $400 worth of Malarone anti-malarial medication, and a place to stay lined up. Not yet sure what I’m going to eat or wear, or how I’m going to carry money, but I am confident these difficulties will be surmounted.
For my post title, I’ve adopted a French standard: J stands for jour, or day. I’ve seen a lot of this in Paris, since we are now at J-4 for the European Parliament elections I’ve been working on. My semester in Paris has been wonderful, and even though I’m incredibly excited about Africa, leaving Paris for Southern California would be hard enough. Leaving for Niger is going to be a real challenge. Un défi.
Every conversation I have in French here has taken on an additional sense of urgency, since French will be my lifeline in “Françafrique,” or Francophone Africa. After several months in France, I no longer worry about basic communication, but I’m hoping for more than basic. I want to be able to get to know local people beyond asking where to find good fruit or how to get across town.
There has been a political crisis in Niger since President Mamadou Tandja dissolved parliament in response to the constitutional court’s ruling against his plan to hold a referendum to deliver him an unconstitutional third presidential term. If you haven’t heard about it yet, don’t be surprised. Reuters’ international news wire has devoted no more than 2 short articles to coverage of the crisis since it began more than a week ago. There has been very little violence so far, and I hope and pray it is resolved peacefully. For good, up-to-date coverage of the situation, see www.niger1.com.
A très bientôt!