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Updated Mar 25, 2020

Musicians in Senegal have taken the initiative to use their celebrity and songwriting abilities to inform people about the symptoms of COVID-19 and what they can do to prevent infection, and to combat false information. Rappers of the Y’en a Marre (“Fed Up”) citizen movement have also distributed hand sanitizer and masks at bus stops and railway stations, and encourages bus drivers to avoid overloading. Rapper Didier Awadi used his Instagram page to urge the public to take the virus seriously, and wrote about the death of a friend, journalist Jean-Michel Denis, from the disease. Awadi and pop star Wally B. Seck urged people to stay at home and follow social-distancing guidelines, measures that Senegalese who can afford to do so have not taken seriously enough.


Why It Matters

“Urban music is widely listened to, especially by young people,” says rapper Simon Kouka of the Y’en a Marre movement. “It circulates on social networks and is an important communication tool. It is essential to get the message across from scientists and authorities, at a time when a lot of false information and beliefs are circulating about the disease.” Young people in sub-Saharan Africa tend to listen to and trust musicians more than they do politicians. Incorporating urban culture into pandemic countermeasures also helps to drive home the all-encompassing impact of the virus: it affects everyone and everything.

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