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Senagalese rapper spreads civil rights awareness through hip-hop

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In Senegal, West Africa, the phrase enough is enough or “Y’en a Marre” is associated with a struggle for human rights and the movement that was birthed through hip-hop music and artists such as Cheikh Ourmar Touré, also known as Thiat.

CSUN students were introduced to Thiat and the youth movement of “Y’en a Marre” through the film, “Boy Saloum: The Rebellion of Y’en a Marre” directed by Audrey Gallet on Friday, March 7.

“We wanted to use music for something important, like social activism, to represent the people of Senegal,” Thiat said.

After reaching local notoriety within the city of Dakar, Thiat’s group known as the Kuer Gui Crew, aligned with other hip-hop artists, rappers and journalists in order to promote social discourse against the Senegalese government.

In January of 2011, the movement spread throughout the local community of Dakar and its citizens took to the streets in non-violent protests.

Even with the movement, Thiat said today’s situation in Senegal still needs progress.

Brandon Gordon, a junior majoring in Sociology, asked about the current state of affairs within Senegal today.

“The current President, Macky Sall, does not have enough courage to deal with the important issues like the French colonization. Things are changing because youth are now being involved but politicians are still the same. It will not change overnight but let’s do our part, every generation has a mission,” Thiat said.

Through such youth movements like “Y’en a Marre,” the importance of conduct through education, political awareness and non-violent means is of utmost importance.

Eian Daniels, a senior majoring in sociology, who is also an aspiring rapper detailed his own experience in the music industry and expressed his appreciation of Thiat’s impact in the hip-hop world.

“A lot of artists talk and not everyone is a doer. I did not know the exact words to the song but yet I knew what you were talking about,” Daniels said.

Although Thiat’s musical influences include many artists who belong to a label, he chose to remain independent, as he believes it allows for more musical freedoms involved with socially conscious hip-hop.

“It’s easier to share fun music, because when it’s important people don’t want to listen. The whole world is like that”, said Thiat.

Thiat said he hopes that his music will continue to act as a catalyst throughout other African countries suffering from social and political inequalities.

The country of Gambia bordering Senegal is currently facing political strife as well, the song by the Keur Gui Crew, “Against Impurity” sheds light upon the Gambian government and the current dictator in power, Yahya Jammeh, who was re-elected in 2011.

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