Throughout Francophone West Africa, analysts say France's influence has been changing. In Senegal, the country observed its 47th year of independence from France. With an octogenarian president entering his last term, analysts say it is inevitable France will lose influence with future leaders of its former colony. Phuong Tran has for VOA more from Dakar.

Thousands in downtown Dakar lined up on General Charles de Gaulle Boulevard to see Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade.

This street has had decades of independence day parades since Senegal gained its sovereignty in 1960.

Local political analyst Yoro Dia says Senegal's relationship with France will soon change, because there are no more presidential candidates trained in the French colonial system like Mr. Wade.

"When you are a product of French colonial system, you have a French colonial mentality," he said.

"The most important thing is what people are thinking in Paris. What people are thinking in Washington [D.C.], you do not care. What people are thinking in Senegal, you do not care. But what people are thinking in Paris, you do care," he continued.

Dia says it is inevitable France will lose some influence because he says Mr. Wade is the last of the colonial generation.

"Wade is a kind of bridge between that colonial generation, people who fight for independence and the other generation, people who were born in Senegal, trained in the United States, people who do not have the colonial mentality," said Dia.

"I think this is the biggest change. You no longer have the relationship between the master and the [colonized]," he added.

For 24-year-old government economist, Alfa, Senegal is still close to its former colonizer.

"Nothing [has] really changed. It is our partner. We love French people. It is our big brother," said Alfa.

But when asked where most people his age want to go if they are to leave Senegal, he does not hesitate in replying: "For the students, they want to go to America or China to learn more."

For army Commander Alain Diop, the celebration honors Senegal's responsibilities as a sovereign country.

He says the day is a reminder of Senegal's ability to make both peace and war.

Officials say there were less military in attendance this year because more are serving overseas in neighboring countries' conflicts.