Illegal logging fuels one of Africa's oldest uprisings

A short extract from the full article written by Eva Oude Elferink.

Bumping along the dirt track, his rifle loose in his lap, Amadou Jatta peers relaxed at the woods that surround him. For several hours now, the convoy of the Quick Reaction Force of the Gambian army has been winding through the arid twilight land between The Gambia and Casamance, Senegal’s southernmost region. The sun is burning, the steel benches at the back of the jeep don’t soften a single hole. But Jatta’s mood is great.

This was his last patrol, the 35-year-old soldier says, his smile so wide that the strap of his helmet tightens even more under his chin. He can finally go home.

Jatta really shouldn’t have been here. After more than thirteen years in the army, his military service ended in 2020. He thought. But at the end of January, the soldier was suddenly summoned to put on his uniform again. The army needed reinforcements at the border – right away.

One of the oldest conflicts on the African continent has flared up again on a far side that no one can pinpoint precisely through the trees and marram grass. A guerrilla war that started with the urge for independence in a region that feels different from the rest of Senegal in everything, culminated in a rebellion in the early 1980s, which also included Gambia, the small country that sees Casamance as a tongue of the rest of the country. separates, is dragged along.

*Feature shot for NRC