By Foday Moriba Conteh
Oussouye is an urban commune in the Oussouye Department in the Ziguinchor Region of Senegal. It lies in the area of Basse Casamance in the south of the country.
Oussouye, a town in the Casamance region of Southern Senegal, is not only known for its lush landscapes and rich cultural heritage but also for the innovative approach of its King, His Majesty (Man) Sibilou Baye Diedhiou, is taking to address conflicts and promote unity within his Kingdom.
The Casamance region, with its dense forests, rivers, and villages primarily inhabited by the Diola people, has faced periods of instability due to separatist movements. However, in recent years, efforts have been made to bring peace and development to the region, allowing its unique cultural heritage and natural beauty to thrive.
One remarkable initiative in this regard is the King’s use of food security as a social cohesion mechanism. Access to food plays a pivotal role in the well-being and harmony of any community, and the King’s approach recognizes this importance.
His Majesty has vast agricultural land, and every Thursday, residents of the Kingdom gather in groups to work on the King’s farm. The harvested food is stored, and if any family within the kingdom faces food scarcity, they can discreetly approach the King for support. The King, in response to their request, provides food to the family, usually at night, ensuring that the act remains confidential.
Lionel Diadia Diedhiou, speaking on behalf of the King, during a visit to Oussouye by journalists, explained that this process respects the residents’ rights and maintains the confidentiality of those receiving aid. It has played a crucial role in uniting the people of the Kingdom.
However, the King’s contributions go beyond providing food security. He is also actively involved in conflict management and regulation within the community. When conflicts arise among residents, the King steps in to resolve them, fostering peace and harmony.
His efforts have significantly contributed to peace building in the region. Previously, it was challenging for people to move around the kingdom at night due to security concerns. Under the King’s leadership, residents now live-in harmony, free from fear of night-time attacks.
The King’s use of food security as a social cohesion mechanism demonstrates his unwavering commitment to the well-being and unity of Oussouye’s residents. By addressing food-related challenges and ensuring equitable access to food resources, he has created a more stable and harmonious community where conflicts related to hunger and resource scarcity are minimized.
In summary, this approach underscores the vital link between food security and conflict dynamics. Addressing food security challenges not only helps prevent conflicts but also contributes to conflict resolution. It highlights the significance of comprehensive strategies that integrate food security into conflict prevention, resolution, and post-conflict recovery efforts.
This article is a product of a face-to-face field trip to minority and conflict related communities on issues of inclusive journalism and peacebuilding in Senegal organized by Fahamu Africa, in partnership with Minority Rights Group International (MRI) and with support from the European Union (EU), under the “Engaging Media and Minorities to Act for Peacebuilding” (EMMAP) programme.