Yen a Marre: a cry for justice and equality

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Fatou Jagne-Senghor

11 Mar 2012


Senegal: Y’ en a Marre’ “enough is enough”; a youth Hip Hop group became a national phenomenon, one of the icons in the fight against injustice and the 3rd term for presidency in Senegal.

Rap and hip hop musicians have been critical of political leadership, but their messages have been limited to small circles and have not had the desired impact in the past. Today, this paradigm is changing with the concept "Y’en a Marre": which was created by talented and well-educated hip hop musicians. Their messages resonate in many circles in the Senegalese society.

The group was formed in 2011, in one of the disadvantaged suburbs of Dakar where anger, frustration and employment are the daily lot of youths. Since their inception, they embarked on massive citizen’ sensitisation and toured the country to set up branches in many regions and to prepare youths to take more responsibilities in the governance of their country.

Their first battle was to rise up against the constitutional changes of June 2011 and the candidacy of President Wade.

They charmed the mainstream media, civil society and the opposition through their slogan “NTS”: New Type of Senegalese. In June 2011, they stood firmly under the banner M23, led by key human rights figure Alioune Tine against a constitutional amendment that was fast-tracked by the President to allow himself to be elected with as little as 25 percent, coupled with a vice president’s ticket which could have opened the door to his son to take charge easily according to many political analysts.  

They quickly became an authoritative voice to be reckoned with in the national political arena, their success resides not only in their capacity to denounce, mobilise and analyse the ills of the Senegalese society, ranging from injustice and impunity to growing corruption but also their ability to propose sensible solutions to resolve some of the ills.

They have faced discredit, denials of the rights to publically protest during the presidential campaign of February 2012, have had their activities obstructed by security forces, some of their members beaten, imprisoned and threatened with death, but they have stayed on course and set to continue the struggle until the constitution is respected.

They played an important role in increasing citizen awareness on the third term of the President, and on elections transparency. They kept their spirit after the persistence of the outgoing president to stay in the race, and called on citizen to go out and vote and monitor the polls.  

Now Senegal is gearing towards a second round of the elections scheduled for March 25th which could be won by the opposition. This scenario has put the country in a lot of uncertainty, due to the fact the current President Camp was not prepared to go to the second round let alone lose the elections.  Another episode is open; it is marked with verbal and physical violence against free voices. "Y'en a Marre" is determined to remain a critical actor, an actor of change. Their capacity to analyse, adapt their message and create relevant slogan and campaign messages is a major asset. 

Background information

Since the end of January 2012, Senegal has been at the centre of the spotlight of international media, for the first time in the history of the country; election observers and media came from around to world to ensure transparency and fair polls. Tensions were high due the validation of the candidacy of President Wade by the constitutional council whose independence has been decried by many. Some independent candidates, like pop star Youssou N’dour were banned from the race.

Public protests and electoral violence erupted across the country for weeks; at least 6 people lost their lives, civil liberties especially the rights to public protest were restricted, and journalists were attacked by pro-government forces.

Senegal, known as one of the most stable democracies on the African continent, has been shaken over the past year by an unthinkable 3rd term candidacy of 85 year old President Wade. Wade, who spent more than 26 years in the opposition became president in 2000 after a free and fair election; he was supported significantly by youth and women. 

His twelve-year rule was marked by permanent conflicts with the opposition, and issues with the private media, corruption, the weak justice system and impunity. 


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OliverSpencer says

16 April 2012 15:18

I'm glad the elections have finally resolved this...