Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Y'En A Marre

The government of President Abdoulaye Wade will have a hard time silencing a growing part of his population. For the last couple of years, Senegal has been suffering chronic power outages. In 2010, then Energy Minister Samuel Sarr was under pressure to resign due to the power managing of the electrical situation. The government failed to give a tangible explanation to the population, some explain that it has to do with the poor quality fuel damaging unit generators. Former Minister Sarr, revealed that the government was lifting taxes on renewable sources of energy in an effort to diversify supply. He said the power problem would end by August 15, 2010, still the end is nowhere in sight. After a week of strong protests President Wade replaced the Minister of Energy with his son Karim, adding speculation that the President is grooming his son as his successor (although both deny claims).

2010 - Imams of Guediawaye (an area on the outskirts of the capital) called on its mosques to boycott Senelec (the state controlled company) for one month.

Energy problem also has reduced the rice production -Africa’s third-biggest importer of the grain. Estimates by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Service said imports dropped 33 percent in the first quarter of 2010.

The International Monetary Fund has also identified the energy sector reform as crucial to expanding economic growth.

A group of young advocates are arising from the turbulent waters the government has being brewing. Led by four rappers and a journalist, the masters of words speak out on the common thought found in a growing part of the population, “enough is enough.” Y’en a marre they call it.

The group of rappers mobilized thousands of their peers to assert themselves non-violently for democracy. As of early 2011 the apolitical group known as Y’En A Marre, has been advocating voter registration, protesting against the growing power cuts, and defending their constitution. On June 23rd, Y’en a Marre participated in a street protest for the prevention of President Wade’s grab for power attempting to amend the constitution in order to serve a third term and reduce the portion of votes needed to win re-election, at 85-yrs of age.

Rappers, Thiat, Fou Malade, Kilifa and Simon and fellow journalist Fadel Barro will fight to keep their democracy afloat. They wont let the state touch their constitution, and they will animate their fellow colleagues to stand in protest.

Dakar, 9 am, Sunday, September 18, a roomful of colorful t-shirts with printed bold letters screaming Y’EN A MARRE, dress the populace who attentively listen to the five spokesmen of the movement. Senegalese have gathered to share ideas in an open forum. They all have time to speak, and the assembly drags from morning to late afternoon. A mic is passed, from hand to hand, as the chapter leaders from fourteen regions speak of their individual progress and chip in thoughts, as everyone listens.

Corruption is a common topic among the people. Some rappers have let go of their dignity and joined the campaign trail of prominent politicians, lured by large amounts of money. Yet others have looked the other way when offered campaign participation. Fou Malade can speak for himself, no money will buy him out. He will speak his voice on his distaste of government affairs, not be manipulated by them.

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