Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Diary Sow: Senegal’s star scholar goes lacking in Paris

She landed a spot at a prestigious preparatory college in Paris and, her friends say, continued to ace courses. She revealed a novel final yr on the age of 19.

“To Diary,” the Senegalese president wrote to her in an August notice, “a rising star who’s the satisfaction of the folks.”

Then her college, the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, alerted the Senegalese Embassy on Jan. four that Sow had stopped exhibiting up.

No person has heard from the scholar who was recognized to by no means miss a lecture — neither associates nor household.

Paris police have shared no leads as they scour the town. The prosecutor’s workplace known as the disappearance “worrying.”

“This has devastated everybody,” mentioned a former instructor, Mame Coumba Diouf Sagna, who proofread early drafts of Sow’s guide. “She has so many desires to comprehend. She has a lot hope to offer.”

Senegalese President Macky Sall despatched investigators to assist, whereas Sow’s classmates launched into their very own search. By Tuesday, a crew of eight had known as 12 hospitals every.

“We’re doing all the things we are able to,” mentioned Moussa Gueye, a 21-year-old engineering scholar from a suburb of Dakar, the Senegalese capital. “We’re out right here printing and distributing fliers.”

Sow is reserved but type, he mentioned — not boastful, although she has the proper to be.

“She will get the most effective grades in all the things,” he mentioned.

A whole bunch of Senegalese expatriates in Paris and different French cities took to the streets this week, passing out pamphlets that includes Sow’s face and a quantity to name. Video reveals them chanting, “Ensemble allons chercher Diary Sow.” Collectively let’s discover Diary Sow.

“She is known for being good,” mentioned Souleymane Gueye, vice chairman of the Federation of Senegalese College students and Trainees of France. “She stands out. These tutorial awards often go to boys.”

In Senegal, hypothesis blazes throughout social media: Was she taken? Did she run away?

“What if Diary Sow doesn’t need to be discovered?” somebody tweeted. “Idk I’ve been serious about all of it evening, the stress of being a superb scholar is tough for anybody.”

In September, the month she turned 20, Sow visited Dakar to advertise her novel, “Below the Face of an Angel.”

It’s a few sophisticated lady, she informed a bookstore viewers. The character is guarded and retains to herself. Her love curiosity sees solely “roses,” she mentioned — not the thorns.

“The names are fictitious,” she mentioned, “however I take advantage of phrases to precise myself to the world.”

Abdoulaye Diallo, the director of Harmattan Senegal, a publishing home in Dakar, teared up as he recalled the day Sow’s uncle urged him to learn her manuscript.

“It took us a yr to publish it — with two blind proof-readings,” he mentioned. “With the standard of the textual content, one couldn’t think about that the writer was a girl of her age. It have to be acknowledged that it is a greater thoughts.”

Sow wished to discover folks’s inside worlds, she mentioned in an August tv look. The expectations and pressures — “the key feelings,” she mentioned.

Although her novel was well-liked in Senegal, she desires to pursue an engineering profession.

“I’m a scientist,” she mentioned, “however that doesn’t imply I must be restricted to science.”

Her fervor for studying was clear early on.

“She is in entrance of books on a regular basis,” her mom informed information crews after Sow received her first large scholastic prize. “She doesn’t need to waste a second of her life.”

Sow grew up within the fishing metropolis of Mbour, about 60 coastal miles south from the hustle of Dakar.

She got here from humble means, mentioned Sagna, her former instructor. There have been no fancy tutors.

“Simply pure willpower,” Sagna mentioned. “After I known as for recess, the opposite college students would go exterior and play, however Diary would simply get one thing to eat — some pasta or rice — and sit inside with a guide.”

By age 13, the star pupil was at all times scribbling in a pocket book. At 15, she started to write down the story that might flip into her first novel. Sagna corrected grammar and smoothed some phrasing, she mentioned, however the uncooked expertise was apparent.

Collectively, they polished lots of of pages over 4 years. “She grew to become like my daughter,” Sagna mentioned.

They final talked in August, a couple of months after Sow’s father had died. The instructor had anticipated grief.

“She was simply so constructive,” Sagna mentioned. “She hardly ever complains. Nobody had any concept of what was to return.”

Now Sagna weeps and prays for the younger lady’s return.

“She is the inspiration of so many,” she mentioned. “She’s the instance. I don’t need my college students to assume, is it price striving so onerous if one thing like this could occur?”

Borso Tall contributed to this report.

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