Unfortunately for the president, several months earlier he replaced the Director General of Senelec - the nation's only electricity provider - with his son, Karim. Given the corrupt nature of Senegalese politics, this was originally seen as a good sign (after all, the President would only put his son in charge if there was a plan to make his son look good, right?)
That was just prior to the so-called Arab spring. And prior to the incredible spike in the price of oil. Oil is what Senelec runs on. This is a formula for power outages that are as frequent in Senegal as fart jokes in the third grade. The only difference is the power cuts are now lasting for days, not just hours. And THAT is a formula for violent protests as the President's power grab was essentially meant to help him pass more power to his son in the style of an old fashioned monarchial dictatorship.
10 months ago, I would have told you this type of thing would not be possible in Senegal. But, 10 months is a long time - especially when political leaders are so insulated from the citizens they no longer have any clue as to their disconnect.
The current events are an incredible reminder of the human side of events. Today, I received an email from a former colleague who was charged with sending some hard drives back to our home office. Here is his email, verbatim:
Also, I will send you the packing list and reports as soon as the problem on Campus is resolved. Right now it is dangerous to send the drives. I will try tomorrow. If not possible, I will wait for one week. I do wait to hear from you about the replacement hard drives. I need to rush home...