Released November 13th, 2020, “Deuil National” by DIP Doundou Guiss displays the extreme hardships and difficult decisions made by those who decide to leave Senegal behind and to brave the dangerous journey across the open oceans in search of a better life. “Deuil National”, which means “National Mourning”, comes in the context of the movement #LeSenegalEnDeuil, which memorializes the many Senegalese emigrants who have lost their lives at sea in shipwrecks.
DIP’s bio on Spotify introduces him as, “Dominique Preira, better known by his stage name DIP, is a senegalese rapper (born 22 March 1991 in Dakar). DIP is an abbreviation of his real name, but it also refers to DEEP, a word that represents perfectly his lyrics, despite the fact that they are influenced a lot by the street.” Singing and rapping about such a crucial issue in Wolof, DIP indeed lives up to his name with deep lyrics that pull at the heartstrings of a nation that is, as the song’s title suggests, in mourning and in grief.
The music video for the song features DIP in a canoe at sea as he sings and raps his powerful, heartfelt lyrics about the plight of emigrants from Africa, Senegal in particular, who put their lives on the line in search of a better future for their families. The song begins and ends with these lyrics sung by DIP: (Sung in Wolof, translated into French in the video captions, translated to English by myself).
Manatuma toog di xaar leneen “Je n’en plus d’attendre d’un meilleur avenir”
(I can no longer wait for a better future)
Li nek sama bop bi xatt na fees na “J’ai choisi de ramer jusqu’à rester dans les eaux”
(I’ve chosen to row until I rest in this water)
As DIP breaks into his first and only rap verse of the song, he discusses the manner in which many are forced to stare down the metaphorical barrel of an expansive and dangerous sea, knowing that it may be their only option for salvation. He criticizes his government for the conditions of poverty and unemployment that they are faced with, and the French for their hypocrisy in marching for Charlie (Charlie Hebdo) but not for the hundreds of emigrants that lose their lives at sea.
At the end of the video, a number on the screen rapidly counts up to 480, which was the number of Senegalese emigrants stated to have been dead or missing after undertaking voyages, in the first two weeks of November 2020 alone.
My favorite lyrics from the song come right before the rap verse. They exemplify the innocence and, if anything, the righteousness, of these people who, at the cost of their own lives, seek only to improve the lives of those that they care about:
Defuñu ken lu bonn “Nous ne sommes pas coupables de rien”
(We are not guilty of anything)
Dadj luñu yeene wul dom “Nous endurerons ce que nous ne souhaitons pas à nos fils”
(We endure that which we do not wish for our sons).
The music, lyrics, and cinematography of “Deuil National” by DIP Doundou Guiss certainly come together extremely well to memorialize the loss of these brave emigrants, and to highlight the changes necessary to prevent even further tragedy from happening.