Hip hop in Senegal to combat COVID-19

Thursday, April 9, 2020 - 4:25pm


In Senegal, the social movement, Y En A Marre, or “Fed Up,” released a hip hop music video instructing Senegalese people how to protect themselves from the coronavirus. Host Marco Werman speaks with Malal Almamy Talla, aka Fou Malade, one of the hip hop artists and co-founders of Y En A Marre.



Marco Werman: Generally, the faster governments respond to the pandemic, the better the result. But what about when activists jump in first?

In Senegal, the conscious hip hop movement, Y En a Marre — which translates to "We're Fed Up" — released a music video instructing people how to protect themselves from the outbreak. It's called "Shield Against Coronavirus."

Malal Almamy Talla, also known as Fou Malade, is a rapper and one of the co-founders of Y En a Marre. He spoke to us from his home in Dakar.

Malal Almamy Talla: We live in a very complicated country where a lot of Senegalese, in the beginning of the coronavirus, did not believe that this disease is a reality. That's why, as loud speakers, we have to make them understand and to involve them in the fight. Because Senegal is a very poor country, our government doesn't have a lot of means to face this kind of disease.

Werman: Malal, in your video, you’re all dressed in masks, gloves and protective gear — you and the other members of Y En a Marre — you're actually filming in a hospital. It's a surprise that you got permission from the health ministry to do that. Is a Y En a Marre really influential in Senegal?

Malal Almamy Talla: Yes, because when we heard about coronavirus, the first thing we did, we went to to meet the Ministry of Health, just to say we are ready to help you. We are here. We've got some efforts. We want to be with you in the fight.

Werman: So, I want you to give us your verse in the song "Shield Against Coronavirus." Can you rap through it for us?

Malal Almamy Talla: [raps in Wolof, a language of Senegal] You hear me?

Werman: I hear you loud and clear. Wolof is a fantastic language to rap in. What are you saying?

Malal Almamy Talla: I'm saying, "The coronavirus is now in the country. Now the virus is being spread in all of the localities of the country. Please, we have to be clean. It is a question of national health."

Werman: Malal Almamy Talla is a rapper and one of the co-founders of the hip hop journalist collective Y En a Marre in Senegal. He's been speaking with me from Dakar.