Hip hop activism in Africa – Dakar, Senegal

4080Records is no stranger to the idea that hip hop is extremely influential all over the world.  Back in February the Guardian (one of those major UK papers) ran a story about Didier Awadi, a fairly militant Senegalese rapper.

Awadi is no stranger to activism, and perhaps that’s why he’s gotten so much respect.  His latest album, Sunugaal, tries its best to represent Senegalese culture and deal with several heavy political issues.  Here’s part of what the Guardian has to say about some of the political leanings of Awadi’s album:

On Sunugaal, several tracks feature samples of speeches by iconic African political leaders, including Senegal’s Léopold Sédar Senghor and Ivory Coast’s Félix Houphouet-Boigny. These form a kind of prelude to his forthcoming project, Présidents D’Afrique. The album, due for completion later this year, celebrates the work of legendary anti-colonial leaders who fought for the right of African states to self-government between the 1950s and 80s. Archive audio recordings of such figures as Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, Burkina Faso’s Thomas Sankara and Congo’s Patrice Lumumba are sampled by Awadi, who responds to their ideas with his own lyrics in French and Wolof.

“What I’m trying to do is use hip-hop as an entertaining way to get Africans to reappropriate their history,” he explains. “Which is why I take a speech by Kwame Nkrumah and mix it over a beat where I’m rapping, so it becomes a kind of inter-generational dialogue.”

Lately, Awadi’s gotten even more political active.  He’s been a major force of opposition to the EU-Africa Economic Partnership Agreements.  He’s even come out with what is ostensibly a protest song, titled “On Signe Pas” (translated, it means we won’t sign).  He’s not alone being against it, as tens of thousands protested the adoption of a document they felt threatened their local industries.  The EPA is pretty serious business for these nations, because it requires the removal of a huge amount of tariffs and quotas from African trade, which could have a devastating effect on the local economies.  Freetrade advocates would say this is a good thing, but it seems pretty unanimous among the development community that there is extreme concern that this may undermine African nation’s attempts at development.  It could raise prices across the board without any significant gain.  The Swazi Observer reports that despite this protest the Trade Ministers of many African nations have been making serious strides towards full adoption of the agreement.

Check out the video below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *