Laurence Gavron was born in France to a Jewish family. She’s lived in Dakar, Senegal, for the past ten years, where she is a film director and a writer. Fascinated by African cultures, Laurence Gavron has produced documentaries on local musicians, and on the work of film director Djibril Diop Mambéty. She also writes regularly for the local papers, took part in several photo exhibitions, and wrote two novels: “Marabouts d’ficelle” (2000) and “Boy Dakar” (2008).
And she’s running for parliament, a white, Jewish woman in a black, African country.
“I’m a Senegalese of French origin, ‘a product of diversity,’ as they say in France,” the 57-year-old redhead told AFP in the garden of her Dakar home.
“If all the people who have said they will vote for me really do vote for me, then I shall certainly be elected” on Sunday, she said.
According to AFP, if Gavron wins, she’ll be only the second white person to have taken Senegalese nationality and win a seat in parliament. The first was Jean-Baptiste Collin, a Frenchman who was did all of the above in 1961.
“Laurence is entirely Senegalese, even if she has white skin. She has a place on our electoral list,” El Hadji Sarr, one of the leaders of the left-wing Party for the Emergence of Citizens – Tekki told AFP.
The group, which currently has only one member, a woman, in the outgoing National Assembly of 150 seats, is led by economist Mamadou Lamine Diallo. His principles appear to be: competence, morality, fairness, good governance, transparency and participation by citizens. Gavron says she identifies with all of them.
“I’ve always had a left-wing bent. I am incapable of voting for the right, it’s something that I’ve never done,” she said.
Gavron will benefit from a new law passed under former president Abdoulaye Wade, demanding complete parity between men and women on voting lists. The law will be applied for the first time in Sunday’s election.
“This is something very good, particularly in Senegal, where much injustice is done to women,” Gavron said.
Gavron was married to German cameraman who died when she was 32 and pregnant with her second child.
“The first time I set foot on Senegalese soil was 25 years ago. I’m in love with this country,” said Gavron. According to AFP, she is now married to a Senegalese man, speaks fluent Wolof and reasonable Peul, two of the country’s 20 or so official languages.
Gavron’s agenda is “to work against all kinds of injustice, the terrible things sometimes done in the name of religion or tradition … excisions, forced marriages with young girls, the exploitation of children.”
She is in 28th place on the electoral list presented by Tekki which, judging by the last election, will probably get only one or two seats.
About the Author: Tibbi Singer is a veteran contributor to publications such as Israel Shelanu and the US supplement of Yedioth, and Jewish Business News.
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