Document Type

Honors Paper


Catherine Benoit

Publication Date



After over fifty years since decolonization, Senegal is seen as a success story in establishing democracy in sub-Saharan Africa. However, due to neocolonialism, Senegal is still far from independent, and its leaders are still working against the interests of their people. Emerging out of a history of anti-imperialist mobilization, young rappers continue a transnational struggle against imperialism in reference to the ideology of revolutionaries before them. These rappers and journalists, drawing on a sense of responsibility to a historical, multigenerational fight, unite to create the movement Y’en a Marre—a movement of civic mobilization to oppose their authoritarian government and fight for liberation—that through community-based initiatives, takes charge of the issues at hand to transform their discourse into concrete action. Based on research conducted in Dakar, Senegal, over the summer of 2017, this paper addresses the ways in which engaged rap in Senegal embodies a sense of responsibility to transnational anti-colonial discourse that embraces a global black identity, challenges marginality, and engages in political critique, which, through the creation of organizations and movements such as Y’en a Marre, contributes to a project of African development outside of the Western framework. Through the analysis of the movement Y’en a Marre that arises out of a politically conscious rap scene, and their shared goals with other civil society organizations, this study seeks to illuminate the systems of oppression faced by the Senegalese people living in a neocolonial state, but most importantly seeks to highlight the strong intellectual and artistic forms of resistance that arise despite economic hardship, to ask pertinent questions about government, leadership, and Africa’s role in a global world.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.