Dip Doundou Guiss is just one of the artists I have come across who released a track addressing the political unrest that erupted in Senegal in March of 2021. Simply titled #FreeSenegal in reference to the trending Twitter hashtag, the song is one of protest and revolution, providing insight into the minds of the people living through the unrest, particularly of the country’s youth, who have been at the center of the protests.
For context, following the arrest of a popular opposition leader Ousmane Sonko protests broke out in Dakar as well as other major cities across Senegal. Sonko was known for his criticisms of the current leadership of the country, sentiments that are shared by the wider populace. While the arrest was the catalyst, grievances against the current regime are what fueled the protests and what continues to drive the opposition.
#FreeSenegal addresses such topics as political corruption, police/state brutality against citizens, unemployment, poor healthcare, and imprisonment of the youth. DIP’s song speaks to both the disillusionment as well as the revolutionary spirit that a populace feels when the leadership they elected fails to perform the necessary duties honorably. DIP also references past movements which led to the fall of other political leaders who failed to retain the support of the Senegalese people, which one can assume as a message to the current leaders of what can and will happen to them.
Regardless of the fact that #FreeSenegal is very obviously a Senegalese protest song that speaks to Senegalese politics, people across the globe can relate to its themes. Fighting against political corruption, combating state violence, and striving to ensure that one’s government works for and not against the people is a global desire, particularly in those countries which were colonized and built on the backs of oppressed peoples.
#FreeSenegal by Dip Doundou Guiss is just more proof that Hip Hop culture continues to be a vehicle through which youth express their social and political commentary.