Y’en a Marre and The New Type of Senegalese: Be the Change You Want to See

The group "Y'en a Marre" with their shirts "Faux pas Force"
The group “Y’en a Marre” with their shirts “Faux pas Force”

Today, I would like to talk about the “Y’en a Marre” (“Fed Up“), a Senegalese group which influenced change in the presidential election of 2012 in Senegal, by forcing President  Abdoulaye Wade (and his son, Karim Wade) out of office. Y’en a Marre decided to stop complaining and to start acting, to make the changes they wanted implemented. It is a group of Senegalese rappers and journalists, created in January 2011, to protest ineffective government and register youth to vote. They are credited with helping to mobilize Senegal’s youth vote and oust incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade, though the group claims no affiliation with Macky Sall, Senegal’s current president, or with any political party.

Map of Senegal
Map of Senegal

The group was founded by rappers Fou Malade (“Crazy Sick Guy“, real name: Malal Talla), Thiat (“Junior“, real name: Cheikh Oumar Cyrille Touré), Kilifeu (both from celebrated rap crew “Keur Gui of Kaolack“) and journalists Sheikh Fadel Barro, Aliou Sane and Denise Sow. The movement was originally started in reaction to Dakar‘s frequent power cuts, but the group quickly concluded that they were “fed up” with an array of problems in Senegalese society.  “One day, there was 20 hours of cuts,” said Fadel Barro, whose dimly lit apartment served as the place where the movement took shape. “I said: ‘Guys, everyone knows you. But you’re not doing anything to change the country.’ ”[from NYT interview – see link below]. Those words energized the musicians.

Flag of Senegal
Flag of Senegal

Their goal was to incite Senegalese to vote, to renew the political personnel, to fight against corruption and to promote a sense of civic responsibility.  Their most famous quote is: « L’heure n’est plus aux lamentations de salon et aux complaintes fatalistes face aux coupures d’électricité. Nous refusons le rationnement systématique imposé à nos foyers dans l’alimentation en électricité. La coupe est pleine. » [The hour is no longer to ballroom lamentations and fatalistic complaints in the face of power cuts. We refuse the systematic rationing imposed on our homes in the power supply. Our cup is full to the rim.]

Through recordings, rallies and a network of regional affiliates, called “the spirit of Y’en a Marre“, the group advocates for youth to embrace a new type of thinking and living termed “The New Type of Senegalese” or NTS. In late 2011, the collective released a compilation titled “Y’en A Marre“, from which the single “Faux! Pas Forcé” (“Don’t force it”) emerged as a rallying cry for youth frustrated with President Wade and his son and presumed successor. They followed with a single, “Doggali” (“Let’s finish”), which advocated for cleansing the country of Wade and son.

"Y'en a Marre" at a public demonstration in 2012
“Y’en a Marre” at a public demonstration in 2012

From April to August 2011, the group and their members campaigned door to door to register young Senegalese to vote at the Presidential election of 2012, and they claimed more than 300,000 voters registered.   During 2011, they organized manifestations, called “foires aux problèmes” (“problem fairs”), and sit-ins in Dakar’s Obelisk Square.  On 15 February 2012, these manifestations were prohibited by Wade’s government, leading to 3 members of Y’en a Marre’s arrest on the 16th. This did not stop the group which continued manifesting until the election of Macky Sall as President. Today, even though Macky Sall has been elected president, Y’en a Marre remains active, hosting meetings, and shows, urging the new government to implement all the promised reforms.

So we can all choose to be the change we want to see, stop complaining, and start acting like Y’en a Marre. If there is anything wrong bothering you in your community, it is possible to work at it, to act upon it, and change it the way you want it to be. Our countries all need it, our continent needs it. Read the article the New York Times did on Y’en a Marre, as well as the UNRIC, and the article on NPR. So let’s us be “fed up” like the Y’en a Marre, and let us act and be the change we want to see.

2012: Who did we say goodbye to – Some Events that marked Africa

2012 was a different year with a lot of disappointments, hurts, pains, coup d’etat, and all sorts of things in Africa. We said goodbye to quite a few people in 2012, including:

1. President John Atta Mills of Ghana, who  joined his ancestors suddenly on 24 July 2012… So long Prof… May the land of Ghana hold you tight.

2. President Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, who passed on 20 August 2012… leaving Ethiopia in turmoil.

3. President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi, who passed away on 5 April 2012… he is succeeded in power by the second woman president in Africa: Mrs. Joyce Banda.

4. Minister Paul-Antoine Bohoun Bouabre of Côte d’Ivoire left us on 10 January 2012; this is the man who single-handedly saved Cote d’Ivoire from a financial cliff.

5. Cameroonian legendary footballer Théophile Abega, nicknamed ‘The Doctor’, left us on November 15, 2012. He was voted as one of Africa’s top 200 players of the past 50 years.

6. Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia, was sentenced to 50 years for war crimes in May of this year.

7. A coup d’etat deposed the rightful president of Mali, President Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT) on 22 March 2012, one month before scheduled elections. This has left Mali in turmoil; the country is now going down the path of Cote d’Ivoire and Libya: split into two, and eventually … broken apart?

8. A coup d’état in Guinea-Bissau on April 12, 2012, by the military junta two weeks before the second round of elections saw the arrest of the two presidential candidates: Carlos Gomes Junior and Raimundo Pereira.

9. Abdoulaye Wade, the négrier of Senegal, was booted out of his presidency by the people of Senegal who voted for Macky Sall on 25 March 2012 (a true example of democracy in Africa).

10. Last but not least, the most hateful one of all: Nicolas Sarkozy, the ‘bourreau’ of Africa was booted out of the French presidency on 6 March 2012 … bye bye Sarko… you went for the recolonization and destruction of Cote d’Ivoire and Libya… and the deck of cards are still falling; now Mali… ? Sarko is gone… but his deeds are still going on.

Abdoulaye Wade, the Negrier is gone! – Congratulations to Macky Sall

Flag of Senegal
Flag of Senegal

First of all, I would like to praise the victory of Macky Sall in Senegal against Abdoulaye Wade…  Apparently, and the foreign press does not want to give the real results, Wade received a real K.O. …  He was apparently knocked out with less than 30% of voices in the second round of the presidential elections in Senegal.  Congratulations to Macky Sall and the people of Senegal who defeated the octogenarian Abdoulaye Wade.  I am particularly joyous because Abdoulaye Wade has viciously destabilized some of the most stable countries in Africa in the past few years: Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Libya, and recently Mali. This man totally served the western interests of stopping the formation of a United States of Africa, or rather the FMA (Fonds monetaire Africain), and the formation of a common currency. He betrayed Kadhafi, and many others.  I have no pity for somebody who was ready to transform his country into a monarchy… like Togo and Gabon… he just made the mistake of thinking that Senegal was Togo or Gabon.  He should pay for his crimes and should also be prosecuted for crimes against humanity in Cote d’Ivoire and Libya. So long Gorgui… You will not be missed!

Map of Senegal
Map of Senegal

As I said, this is a people’s win… however, history (on the continent) has shown that simple alternance of power does not mean a true system change.  Macky Sall may be good willing, full of good intentions, but how can he act if he does not even control his country’s currency? how can he act when the true power resides elsewhere, in the hexagon?  Well we wish Macky Sall the best, and all children of Africa rejoice for his victory and that of the Senegalese people.  We also hope that there could be light at the end of the tunnel, and give Macky Sall our entire support in leading his country.