The entire staff of Tostan is grieving since we learned of the unexpected and tragic passing of our dear friend and former colleague, Malick Diagne. For those of us who had the opportunity to know and work side by side with Malick for eight years, we will always remember his quiet kindness, dedication, humility, generosity and desire to serve the community before himself.
For those who never met Malick, he was Deputy Director of Tostan from 1999 to 2008. He managed — and helped to transform — our growing organization, bringing it to a higher level of performance by leading a team to decentralize our structure and operations, empower employees, and put in place a system of internal control and evaluation.
Malick also worked to build Tostan’s international expansion efforts throughout Africa. He set up country offices and programs in Guinea, Guinea Bissau, The Gambia, Mauritania, Djibouti, and Somalia. He regularly traveled to those countries to do administrative and financial audits, followed by training and coaching sessions to build the capacities of both the Tostan staff and our local NGO partners.
Malick was especially engaged in Tostan’s efforts to improve the situation for the “talibe” (child beggars) of Senegal. He was known for his passionate advocacy and actions to end forced begging and led a historic three day march from Dakar to Thies to raise awareness on the need for Senegalese society to stand up, unite and ensure that the rights of all children are protected and respected.
Malick was always reading a book or using books to train staff — mostly management, English or Wolof dictionaries! Through his own personal reading, he acquired skills in “QuickBooks and Accounting for Business, Nonprofits and Government, MS Access, Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation, Basic Statistics, Management by Results, MS Project and Project Management, Management of Time, Paper and People, Strategic Planning, Team building, Newsletter Design and Publishing, Fundraising and Proposal and Grant Writing.” (Malick’s list of his favorite subjects!). But his favorite book was War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.
Malick left Senegal in 2008 to return to Washington as the Financial Director of the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA), a nonprofit organization with approximately 3,000 members from across the United States. In March 2014, he joined a new organization, Life Pieces to Masterpieces, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives and futures of young African American men and boys growing up in the most poverty-stricken and volatile neighborhoods of Washington, D.C.
In Washington, Malick continued to serve the Senegalese community by becoming a dynamic organizer and coalition builder. He was the founder and president of the Association of Senegalese in Greater Washington, D.C. Area, starting a newsletter and producing a local radio program in Wolof. He was held in great esteem by the entire Senegalese community in America — everyone seems to have heard of Malick DIagne and his activities in support of Senegalese living abroad.
Malick will be profoundly missed by all of us at Tostan who loved and respected him. We hope that his model of passion for serving others, his humility and generosity will continue to inspire present and future generations.
A Remembering of Malick Diagne from Tostan Staff
There is no human work that is completed before fate delivers its last word.
Malick Diagne is no longer with us – taken abruptly from our love on the sad day of November 4th, 2015. His path crossed that of Tostan on a day of the year 2000, a favored year, and symbol of all hopes. With this hope, he occupied the position of Deputy Director until 2008, year where he was called to inspire hope in other lands.
Malick was without a doubt one of these people that most influenced and will keep on influencing the mind of the Tostan family by his foolproof charisma and humanism. You had to meet Malick to respect, know, and appreciate him. You had to be around him to discover that God had put something SPECIAL in him.
Malick arrived at Tostan at a time when the institution needed orientation to achieve greatness, and without sparing any effort, he was able to serve as a guide and model on the unwavering path Tostan had drawn. His management style allied rational rigor of classic standards and the flexibility of experimental wisdom that is synonymous of great spirits. He embodied in himself what the developing world has of more substantial. His managerial intelligence gave him the strength to develop the skills and capacities of others, leading them to a common ideal.
Tireless worker and unparalleled manager, Malick’s professional qualities were such that he left indelible imprints on the career of each of us who were fortunate to work with him. His time at Tostan has undoubtedly contributed much to the current expansion of the organization. His love for Tostan was such that even after his departure, he was concerned about its future.
Beyond Tostan, Malick loved his country Senegal, Africa and the world. His perseverance in his belief that a better world is possible with the will and the action of each had him return to his motherland in 2010, where he made know the CAINT at large and created the PPDH. He aspired to defeat poverty and child begging at the national and sub-regional level in an inclusive and holistic approach. This man was irremediably part of this race, very rare these days, of human beings defenders of noble causes. We have known and respected as a leader but loved him as a person.
A humanist, Malick was the one who unanimously inspired humanist values around him, the basis of his beliefs and strong convictions. He knew how to remain simple despite its status, humble in his greatness, to remain in solidarity with the poor and be pleasant at all times and in all places. Malick is not only GREAT by name and size but also by spirit. He left us at a time when humanity’s need for characters like him is great.
Malick was one of the icons in the history of Tostan. He deserves the greatest tribute for his considerable contribution to the life of the organization and the professional influence he had on of most of us. He played his part and now he’s gone forever; he played a big role in the future of Tostan and will remain forever present in our hearts and minds. All the Tostan community is literally saddened by this painful loss and our CEO is the first to be pained.
Our most sincere condolences to his family, to the Senegalese people and to all the souls that met him and loved him around the world. May the Almighty God, in all of his mercy, welcome him in his paradise. Amen.