Senegal’s rapper-activists recently collaborated on a new single in support of Amnesty International’s campaign against impunity in the country. The human rights advocacy organization launched the campaign to draw attention to the fact that there has been no justice for those who died during the 12-year regime of former President Abdoulaye Wade especially during the period just before the 2012 presidential elections. The campaign puts public pressure on President Macky Sall and calls for follow-though on criminal investigations in order to get justice for victims of violence and torture.
“100 Coupables: Impunité! Nous Avons besoin de Justice” (100 Guilty: Impunity! We Need Justice) is the brainchild of rapper/producer Simon of 99 Records. The single featuring Simon (Bisbiclan), Drygun (Yatfu), Beydi (Bideew bu Bess), Djiby (Dabrains), Thiat (Keur gui), Keyti and Books (Sen Kumpë) aims to bring the issue of impunity to the public’s attention. When Simon called the collective of rappers were more than willing to head into the studio in support of human rights. In fact, several of the rappers were either arrested themselves or victims of police brutality because of their work with the now famous Y’en a Marre movement—a social movement founded by rappers and journalists that gained mass popularity after president Wade attempted a power grab by changing the constitution and running for a third term in office. The song is a call for justice, respect for human rights and memorializing of the many victims of violence with rapping in Wolof set to a Hip-Hop beat.
If the social media response is any indication, Amnesty International was wise in its decision to collaborate with the rappers because the music video has been shared widely on multiple social networking outlets while official Amnesty International reports remain the reading of a select audience. Once again, Senegalese rappers continue to impress with their ability to take the message directly to the people.
* Janette Yarwood is a cultural anthropologist focusing on popular protests, youth movements and civil society across sub-Saharan Africa.