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'Enough Is Enough,' Say Senegalese Rappers

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Senegal's capital of Dakar remains jittery, with youth and police locked in running street battles.

Riot police are firing tear gas on rock-throwing protesters who oppose President Abdoulaye Wade's bid for a third term in office. With a week to go until the presidential vote, opposition demonstrations have been banned, but crowds have taken to the streets and the atmosphere is becoming increasingly tense.

Some of the protests have been led by rap artists. They have been mobilizing the youth and putting pressure on Senegal's leader to step down.

They even have a name for their movement: Y'en a Marre. It means "We're Fed Up. Enough is Enough."

Rappers At The Front Line

"The Y'en a Marre thing, everybody was Y'en a Marre inside their chest," says Djily Baghdad, a rapper and founding member of the movement. "Everybody had that Y'en a Marre feeling. Everybody was fed up. So, as rap artists, we write songs to protest about how people are crying."

The rappers have composed what's become an opposition anthem, a song titled "Abdoulaye Faux! Pas Force," or "Abdoulaye, don't force it, give up!"It was written by Kilifeu and Simon, two rappers that were detained by police on Thursday.

You hear their song at Y'en a Marre's outdoor gatherings, which attract hundreds of Senegalese youth. Independent analyst Babacar Justin Ndiaye says it's ironic that the young people who helped propel Wade to power in 2000 have now turned against him.

"President Wade cannot forget that he practically swept into office on a wave of youth support — which he had enjoyed throughout his political career," Ndiaye says.

"This is a huge embarrassment for Wade. The youth has signed the divorce papers with him, that's quite clear," Ndiaye says. "But Wade is a political animal. He's managing to hide the pain this has caused him, but he's hurting."

A 'New Type Of Senegalese'

"They're forcing our hands to be violent," Baghdad says. "As you see, all throughout Dakar, people are protesting — burning tires on the streets, throwing rocks [and] blocking roads and stuff. So, that's the chaos Abdoulaye Wade wants to be; he's forcing us to be violent."

The president's allies insist his third term bid, validated by Senegal's top court, does not violate the constitution and that he's staying in the presidential race. Wade's interior minister, Ousmane Ngom, cites security reasons for the ban on demonstrations in downtown Dakar, describing recent protests in Dakar as a crime spree by vagrants and vagabonds.

But Baghdad says rappers are just trying to wake people up and convince the Senegalese that only the people can bring change.

"We have this slogan called NTS: New Type of Senegalese," he says. "That's what Y'en a Marre is trying to build, but [to] do it in the most peaceful way."

The rappers, the opposition and other demonstrators vow they'll continue to protest and make Senegal ungovernable unless Wade withdraws his candidacy ahead of next Sunday's vote.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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