News, reviews and commentary on afrobeat and related music from Africa, The Caribbean and The Americas

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Y’en A Marre and Rap Revolution in Senegal

Fadel Barro and Simon (right), Y’en A Marre founders,
at polling station to vote and monitor
By Michael Shereikis

No beating about the bush here, eh Abdoulaye? Revolution heading south...where y'at Bongo, Biya, et al? From 'kola (Bukola Jejeloye) of the The Afropop Blog, the official blog of Afropop Worldwide
On February 26th, the much anticipated elections in the West African country of Senegal took place. While official results are being waited upon, speculations are high that there will be a March run-off election between the incumbent 85-year-old president, Abdoulaye Wade and Macky Sall, his former prime minister and protege (they had a falling out due to Sall wanting accountability from Wade’s son, Karim, over some governmental expenditure). World famous Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour attempted to get on the ballot but his candidacy was invalidated by the country’s Constitutional Court...
…The country found itself in the grips of protests and riots last summer that extended into recent weeks before the election where six or more people were killed.  Reportedly leading these protests, sans the riots, are M23, a composition of civil society groups, ordinary citizens and opposition parties that arose from an uprising on June 23, 2011 protesting against a constitutional makeover by President Wade, and Y’en A Marre (French slang for "fed up"), a group of citizens including youths and artistes fronting for the frustrations of society at large. ..
So who really are they? According to its website, Y’en A Marre is “a citizens' initiative started at the outset by committed Senegalese artists (rappers) and journalists.” It was indeed founded by a small group of rappers including Thiat (Cheikh Oumar Cyrille Touré) and Kilifeu (both of the famed hip-hop band "Keur Gui of Kaolack" (see our October coverage of them here), Fou Malade (Malal Talla), Djily “Baghdad” Aidara and Simon Bisbi Clan (Simon Mohamed Kouka)… Many on the streets of Dakar are not surprised that rappers would help found a new political movement in the country as they have the ears of the street through their music which their fans adore...
...Then there is the music, the revolutionary hip-hop music underpinning the movement. It is only natural that Y’en A Marre would tap into its internal resources to make its voice heard. It also helps that Y’en A Marre’s founders have street credibility as they have been rapping revolutionary songs before they formed the group. But just to highlight its message markedly, the group also released a compilation at the end of last year, self-titled “Y’en A Marre”. The single “Faux! Pas Forcé” from the compilation has become the group’s anthem in its protests and on the lips of many desiring change in Senegal. Rap has come to make its mark in the politics of Senegal and I doubt it will be leaving anytime soon no matter how annoying it might be in the side of the establishment. Fela Kuti would be smiling in his grave now ... “Music is [indeed] the weapon.”

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