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Senegal renames Central Square in former colonial capital

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Aerial panorama of Saint Louis, a UNESCO heritage city in northern Senegal.Getty Images

Senegal has rebaptized a central square in its former capital Saint-Louis which bore a statue and the name of a prominent 19th-century French colonial governor.

Saint-Louis was the capital of the French colony of Senegal from 1673 until 1902 and French West Africa from 1895 until 1902, when the capital was moved to Dakar.

Founded in 1659, it is the oldest colonial city on the western African coast and a UNESCO Heritage site.

Its central square was named after Louis Leon Cesar Faidherbe, who protected northern France from a Prussian invasion in 1870-1871.

Faidherbe was governor of Senegal between 1850 and 1860. Within three months of his appointment as governor, he began work on the first in a series on inland forts and expanded French territory in West Africa.

The square has been renamed Baya Ndar, which in the dominant Wolof language, means Ndar square. Ndar is the local name of Saint-Louis.

“The renaming of Faidherbe square is of historic significance,” Saint-Louis mayor Mansour Faye said.

“Our grandfathers, our grandmothers used to say ‘We are going to Baya,'” he said.

Authorities are yet to decide whether to reinstall Faidherbe’s statue, erected in 1891 and removed this year for renovation work on the square or place it elsewhere.

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