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Dip Doundou Guiss #FreeSenegal

Sounds of the world : Music in Senegal, a weapon against political unrest

Cet article en anglais est le résultat d’un projet collaboratif entre #AuxSons et Alejandro Abbud Torres Torija, professeur à Sciences Po Paris Campus Reims, et contributeur régulier d’#AuxSons. Dans le cadre du cours “Sons du monde : la musique comme miroir de l’intime et du collectif” des étudiants internationaux de Sciences Po Paris Campus Reims se sont penchés sur les liens entre musiques des quatre coins du monde et enjeux sociopolitiques. 

This article is a result of a collaborative project between #AuxSons and Alejandro Abbud Torres Torija, lecturer at Sciences Po Paris Campus Reims, and regular contributor to #AuxSons. As part of the class “Sounds of the world: Music as mirror of the intimate and the collective”, international students from Sciences Po Paris Campus Reims prepared articles presenting contemporary music from different parts of the world in connection with recent socio-political events.


Senegal is a West African country where, as in most countries, music has an important function in daily life. In recent years it has taken on a more engaged form in the political landscape. 

The latest events of February 2021 have shown how protest also involves music and musicians. Indeed, since 2011, a real civic movement has been formed around the rappers of the “Y’en a marre” collective, whose engagement has influenced many artists. The arrest of the main opponent and candidate in the upcoming presidential elections, Ousmane Sonko, has created protests across the country. Despite the peaceful spirit of these riots, as evidenced by the youth hymns sung by the demonstrators, clashes with the security forces have claimed the lives of 11 people. 

As with every time the country faces difficult situations, music emerges as a mediator: not only between the people and the president but also between the country intentionally cut off from the rest of the world and the international community. 

A song from the famous Senegalese rapper DIP, #FreeSenegal, references the hashtag created to alert the world on the political situation. In this song, DIP reminds people of the importance of continuing the mobilization and denounciation.


Other musicians have addressed the president directly, like Bril. The first words of his song Letter To The President show how musicians can be spokespersons: « It’s the people who sent me ».


These sounds testify music and politics are intimately linked in Senegal. In less than a week, several songs were produced to warn the president, to raise awareness among young people about the importance of defending the rule of law, to denounce the excesses of power, and to pay homage to those killed during these demonstrations.


the authors : 

Awa Diallo is 20 years old and studied in Mariama Ba boarding school in her native Senegal.  She is currently a 2nd year undergraduate student following a major politics and government at Sciences Po Paris Campus Reims.

Hermès Chandès is a second-year student at Sciences Po Paris in the Europe-Africa program. He is a member of the Art Association of the campus where he regularly contributes with articles and podcasts on music.


photo : Dip Doundou Guiss #FreeSenegal

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