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Protesters opposed to President Abdoulaye Wade running for a third term during a rally, Dakar, Senegal, Jan. 31, 2012 (AP photo by Tanya Bindra).

Lyrical Protest: Hip-Hop and Youth Activism in Senegal

Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016

DAKAR, Senegal—“Africa’s luck is that it has youth on its side. But we need to harness that luck,” says Senegalese rapper Keyti, his voice ringing out to the crowd of young people before him at Cheikh Anta Diop University’s outdoor basketball court.

It’s a mid-November evening in Dakar, Senegal’s capital. Hundreds of men, mostly youth, gather on plastic chairs or dangle their legs over cement ledges, gazing out onto center court, listening intently. It’s not a lineup of basketball players they’re looking at, but a collection of some of Senegal’s most well-known hip-hop artists—household names like Awadi Didier and Fou Malade, Keyti and Xuman, Fadel Barro of the Y’en a Marre citizens’ activist movement, and even members of Balai Citoyen, a hip-hop social activist duo from Burkina Faso. ...

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