L’argot de Sénégal

“Senegal slang” signifies more than its catchy nature would insinuate.

It is impossible to watch this “Y’en a marre” (enough is enough)  video without recollecting Golden-Age American hip hop artists discuss social progression some 20 to 30 years after the civil rights movement. The video begins with Senegalese rapper Djily Baghdad discussing crumbling social and political institutions contemporary with the 2011 Arab Spring movements.

Without showering you in excessively esoteric detail, Senegal experienced a constitutional crises when incumbent President Abdou Wade proposed multiple constitutional changes for the clear reason of remaining in power. For decades Senegal has been the clear-cut pinnacle of West African democracy. The country experienced relatively peaceful power transitions since its independence in 1959; almost unheard of in recent African history.

“Y’en a marre” is a peaceful youth political and social movement opposed to President Wade’s proposed legal changes and re-election bid. Djily Baghdad was among the founding members of the group, which produced revolutionary songs that inspired public resistance and led Wade’s electoral defeat without bloodshed.

Their song “Dok ak sa Gox” embodies the movements principles. “Dok ak sa Gox” is Wolof for “walk with your community.” Despite cultural taboos isolating older and younger populations and marginalizing women, “Y’en a marre.” successfully united these special interests. The song and its video describe each Senegalese as an observer of democracy whose responsibility rests in protecting their state’s democratic institutions. The artists comprising “Y’en a marre” are shown asking women, young children, and the elderly to participate in peaceful marches against an aspiring autocrat. The song and video simultaneously cross-cut traditional societal cleavages while advocating an unmistakable goal regarding the movements outcome: to preserve democracy and end civil silence.

Check out the video here.

 

“Y’en a marre” is French slang. The word “marre” is traditionally used in the phrase “J’en ai marre de” meaning “I am fed up with…”. The cohort of Senegalese rappers expressed frustration with multiple phenomena in a single movement: a power-hungry politician, institutionalized societal cleavages, and silence as the status quo. Take that for street talk.

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