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Malick Gueye: An old fisherman from Saint-Louis with rich experience and an open mind

90 years of age today, Malick Gueye is a fisherman from the traditional village of Guet Ndar in the (north) region of St. Louis. What strikes most about this fisherman is his rich path lined with a very young spirit that belies his 90 years.

During his long life, this fisherman has accumulated a wealth of experience, to mention only the following:

Before independence, Malick was one of the Senegalese pressed by force into the French colonial army that led him to Algeria during World War II;

  • In 1960, the year of the independence of Senegal, the government of Benin approached the government of Senegal to seek an exchange of Senegalese fishermen with a view to assisting in the training of fishermen in Benin. Malick was one of four fishermen selected from Senegal. During two years in Benin, they were able to pass on to the Beninese fishermen the specific expertise in the line fishing, one of the techniques that requires most knowledge and experience. Happy about the work of four Senegalese fishermen on their return to Senegal, the President of Benin then came into their place of origin to St. Louis to congratulate them. But the thing to remember is that from all the fishermen who lived through that experience, Malick is the only one still alive;

  • He is the pioneer and founding member of the National Collective of Artisanal Fishermen in Senegal (CNPS), the first traditional fishermen's union to have been born in a sector as informal as artisanal fisheries. The foundation of the CNPS in 1987 by Malick GUEYE and other co-founders has been facilitated by the NGO specialised in fisheries, CREDETIP, especially the head and founder of this institution, Mr Aliou SALL. He is from the village of Hann-Pêcheurs and has studied social anthropology in Europe. In the late 1980s to late 1990s, Malick GUEYE has traveled internationally for the emergence and consolidation of a global network of solidarity between the peoples linked by a common maritime culture. Thus, he visited several fishing organisations: in Europe, in France, Guilvinec and Loctudy in Britanny, in Canada, the union called UPM in the Maritime Region in New Brunswick, in Asia the fishermen's unions of Kerala in India and many other communities in Sri Lanka;
  • Starting in the 1990s, he initiated and established a framework within the CNPS for Muslim-Christian dialogue: this initiative has for years created a reconciliation between the union of traditional fishermen and the Catholic Church in Senegal, which has always expressed its support for the artisanal fishing communities. It should be worth mentioning that these fishing communities are composed of at least 75 to 80% of Muslims. It is because of the exemplary work done by the fisherman with the Catholic Church in Senegal for ecumenism that the CNPS has been one of the few organisations in the informal sector to be invited to meet Pope John Paul II in his unique visit to Senegal;
  • Finally, Malick GUEYE is now one of the custodians of the knowledge of Qur'an and performs the duties of a teacher, as a scholar of the Qur'an, and imam in every community where he goes in his various travels between Senegal, Gambia and Mauritania. It should be noted that these 90 years had no impact on his mobility and his trips to Gambia and Mauritania, two neighboring countries of Senegal, where he has a lot of his offspring who emigrate during much of year;

With regard to its openness, while being a strong advocate of morality and decent behaviour in society, Malick impresses with his open-mindedness through:

  • His position against a religious fatalism which is likely to close our eyes to the scandal that threatens the ecology of our planet for very short-term interests of human beings. Malick GUEYE has shown us with specific passages of the Qur'an that Islam has a clear position against the waste of resources provided by nature;

  • His views are very clear about the religious fundamentalism which he sees as a misinterpretation of the fundamental principles of Islam. According to him, if there is something to which Islam attaches paramount importance, it is the peace between humans in the great respect for the diversity of their religious beliefs.

  • To see a diaporama about Malick GUEYE on the Mundus maris channel, click here.