This blog post is dedicated to Togolese artist, Elom 20ce. He is a self-proclaimed “arctivist”: artist and activist. He has many hit songs that are dedicated to addressing the faults of African political leaders, and anti-colonialism, as well as promoting the importance of Pan-Africanism. He has been rapping for many many years and has a unique perspective on the progression of the country of Togo. Many of his music videos contain symbolism that directly correlates to corruption in the government and violence in the country’s armed forces. One article written about this artist states that he is “on a quest to reposition art and culture as essential vessels to reformulate African identities and self-worth”, which is a really effective way of describing his mission.
In one of his most recent songs, titled “Egungun”, Elom 20ce makes a point to include very detailed lyrics to provide deep imagery. Two verses that really stood out to me were “To tongues with their throats slit that keep moaning. To the snoring arms that weigh down from the cliffs, I feed the ashes born of our failures into a brazier, to revive the memory of our massacred soldiers”, and “Divide them by the souls who wander in the desert, these tombs without epitaphs which populate the oceans in the silence of our elites in ties. Now subtract all those white wizards, tropical Machiavelli, who have no morals. Contempt, Disdain, Arrogance, Insolence”. It is clear that in this song, the artist is making a direct hit at French colonialism (“white wizards”). The music video accompanying this song is also jammed packed with symbolism. There are people in the video that are covered in white sheets which I interpreted as the “ghosts” of the ancestors. At the beginning of the video, there are also people wearing what to me looks like make-shift gas masks out of trash, like plastic water bottles and cardboard. This to me symbolizes French armed forces when they colonized Togo.
Elom 20ce is undeniably a very talented artist and a very dedicated activist. He has spent over seven years creating raps that address past and ongoing issues in African countries. He is a true inspiration for change and hope.