I was first introduced to Keur Gui in Chapter two of Dr. Clark’s book, Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa: Ni Wakati. Dr. Clark discussed the youth-led protest movement, Y’en a Marre, which was spearheaded by hip hop artists journalists, and other civic organizations whose mission was to register young people to vote and oppose the reelection of president Wade. Keur Gui, a Hip Hop duo, helped lead the resistance campaign. To the government, their music epitomizes rebellion. To the people, their lyrics are an urgent battle cry for freedom.
“Diogoufi,” a Keur Gui single, challenges the assertion that economic progress has been made in Senegal since the election of its new president. Translated from Wolof, Diogoufi means “nothing has changed.” It is a sober portrayal of poverty and oppression.
The music video opens with a scene from a local market. The falling cords of a somber piano is heard in the background. A member of Keur Gui is seen in front of the store, passionately reading the news paper, and narrating in a French/Wolof blend. He begins by saying, “Même chat yi, Même chien yi. . .Même promesse électorale” which, from French, translates to: “Same cats, same dogs. . . Same electoral promises.” I don’t understand the rest of what was said (I also couldn’t find an English translation of the lyrics). However, by examining how the the music video utilized cut scenes from a village, the market place, and the Keur Gui member reading the news paper, I can assume the narrator is listing the broken promises made to the people by their government. At 1:30 the narration stops and another man sings the chorus Wolof which was briefly interrupted by a rap.
As structure, cadence, tone, melody, and rhyme-scheme is concerned, this song appears to stretch our understanding of Hip Hop. Most of Diogoufi is dialogue and melody. However, it still carries certain elements of Hip Hop culture which was masterfully blended with Wolof.
I wish I spoke Wolof and French so that I could understand what appears to be a powerfully crafted message. Diogoufi is a work of art. The singing is beautiful and the message seems poignant and timely.