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Senegalese Rappers Push a 'New Type of Senegalese'

Rappers and musicians in Senegal's Y'en a Marre (We're Fed Up) coalition sit in Dakar while waiting to make a music video.

Known for their political activism, the Senegalese coalition of hip-hop musicians and rappers known as ‘Y ‘en a Marre’ is also pushing for more subtle changes in their country.

A group of rappers and musicians sits on a stoop in Dakar, Senegal, waiting patiently for the crew to set up for a music video shoot.

As one young man walks by, he throws a plastic cup on the ground, and the leader of the rap group quickly reprimands him and tells him to pick up the plastic piece of trash. This is just one message the Senegalese musician coalition known as Y’en a Marre (We’re Fed Up) are preaching as they push for what they call NTS – a New Type of Senegalese.

“We’re talking about this NTS – the New Type of Senegalese. Y’en a Marre has this slogan, the New Type of Senegalese, to make people change, to change their mentality – to change our habits that our not really good for us,” said rapper and Y'en a Marre member Djily Bakhdad. “We’re also criticizing ourselves – the way we’re living everyday. We’re telling people, ‘Hey – do not litter. Do not eat stuff and just throw it on the ground.’”

Best known for their political songs and videos criticizing the country’s current president Abdoulaye Wade, the coalition is also promoting change on smaller, more personal levels in the West African country.

Bakhdad added this means encouraging people not to overcrowd public busses nor bribe police officers to get out of traffic violations.

“We want people to make changes in their mind, knowing that a new Senegal is possible,” he said.

For now the musicians are still mainly focused on the country’s presidential elections and ensuring the current government is ousted during the March 25 vote. But Bakhdad and others assured their fight will continue long after the last ballot is counted.