African musicians fighting for social and political rights

by Denis TUTU
Source: Afrika news

The music endorsed by the Afro-American Freedom movements has been popular in Africa since the 80s. It encouraged African musicians to get involved in social and political matters. They are now leading social movements to fight corruption in their countries.

Conscious African musicians Seun Kuti African musicians

Following his father’s steps, Seun Kuti, the youngest son of the Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, is always criticizing Nigeria’s rulers. Seun’s political rebellion and outspokenness on corruption are peculiar.

He said that “The situation is much worse than at my father’s time. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. My album speaks to the people about our relationship with our rulers in Africa. People take a lot of things for granted, so this album is urging everyone to get involved and not think it’s someone else’s responsibility.” Kuti’s upcoming album entitled “Black Times” is a combination of the political issues of his father’s era and today’s matters.

Hélio Batalha, a famous South African rapper, is another engaged artist. Besides being a musician, he sees himself as an activist. He raps about the current situation of the oppressed African people and attempts to make their voices heard. He said: “I think you can bring about more change with feelings rather than politics.”

The “Y’en a Marre” movement

A generation of politically involved American musicians, who have dedicated their lives to social and political issues, emerged in Senegal. The country has a long history of democracy. In the late 1980s, when the country’s economy was shaken, the youth took to the streets and protested against injustices.

The Y’en a Marre (Fed Up) movement, which appeared in January 2011, was led by the group Keur Gui’s rappers Thiat and Kilifeu and other musicians and journalists. Keur Gui composed several songs and toured the country along with other artists in order to make their voices heard.

The movement spread at first on social networks and engaged the World Social Forum, which was held in Dakar in February 2011. It launched a national petition to invite young people to register to the electoral lists and forge the concept of the “new type of Senegalese” (NTS). This was an attempt to encourage people to “self-administer the cure for their disease, without waiting for the policies”.

Y’en A Marre has since then spread all over West Africa in countries such as Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2014, the group released their album Diogoufi “Nothing has changed”.