Y’en a Marre: Youth and Social Engagement in Senegal
Sponsored by The International Forum for Democratic Studies at the National Endowment for Democracy
Thiat (Mr. Cheikh Oumar Toure)
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow, National Endowment for Democracy
Thursday, January 30, 2014
3:00 p.m.–4:30 p.m.
1025 F Street, N.W., Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20004
Y’en a Marre (“We’re Fed Up”) first emerged in 2011 as a grassroots campaign against injustice and inequality in Senegal. Spearheaded by the hip hop group Keur Gui Crew in response to local power outages, the nascent protest movement went on to mobilize against the controversial bid by Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade to remain in office for a third term.
The constitutional changes that Wade proposed would have safeguarded his victory in the next elections. The Y’en a Marre movement responded by saying “Enough is enough” (“Y’en a Marre!”). In an extraordinary show of solidarity, Senegalese citizens, civil society organizations, and youth united to speak out against rampant corruption, rising unemployment, and regular electricity outages.
During his presentation, Thiat explored the conditions that created Y’en a Marre; the movement’s involvement in the events leading up to the 2012 presidential election; and the goals of the Y’en a Marre movement. He also discussed the next steps for Y’en a Marre, including his efforts to engage youth across Africa, encouraging them to advocate for social change and to aspire to become a “new type” of African citizen.
About the Speaker
Thiat is a hip hop artist and member of the Keur Gui Crew, a popular West African hip hop group known for its hard-hitting lyrics denouncing corruption and bad governance. In 2011, he and his band helped to launch Y’en a Marre, a movement that calls for political reform and public engagement among Senegalese youth.
Since then, Thiat has shared his experience with academics, youth activists, and civil society organizations across Africa and internationally, including at:
- the World Social Forum in Dakar and Tunis,
- the International Youth Summit in Cape Town,
- the African Leadership Network Conference in Ghana,
- the Dakar to NYC conference at New York University, and
- the Spirit of Y’en a Marre Forum in Paris, France.
During his fellowship, Thiat is plans reflect on the role of the Y’en a Marre movement, develop a project to build bridges among youth communities across Africa, and compose the lyrics for his next album, focusing on democracy, nonviolence, and respect for human rights.