January 2001  |  Archive  |  read article | © Dieter Telemans
reportage The honorary revolutionaries
Theatre Performance by the 'BMG 44' group in the 'Green Theatre'. Senegal counts no less than three thousand hip-hop groups, many of them are based in the district of Pikine, Dakar Rappers district Over two million people live in the crowded district of Pikine, which grew up in the sand dunes beyond Dakar in the sixties and remains poor and underprivileged Streetscene A rehearsal of the 'Peace and Right' group. Family, neighbours, and fans make up the audience. Rappers call themselves 'honorary revolutionaries' and caused a political upheaval during the presidential elections of March 2000 Crowd A rap matinee in the Tenbi Club in the Thiaroye district of Dakar Fans Young fans collect signatures of members of the 'Janti Bi' group in the Saint Ursula secondary school, after a performance sponsored by a group of young lawyers committed to popularising human rights Vision Rehearsal of the 'Guestu-men' group on the Malika beach, Dakar. 'Guestu' refers to 'people who engage in research'. Some rappers consider themselves teachers or educators of the masses who never received any schooling, even though they themselves barely finished grade school Female Two members of Senegal's only female rap group (ALIF) with the impressive name of 'Women's Infantry Liberation Army'. They claim to be very much against the common practice of polygamy in Senegal but feel it would be dangerous to speak out against it in the current religious situation Pretty Girls at a rap matinee in the 'Cafeteria' club. Men in Senegal have double moral standards towards women: they seek pretty girls to go out with but want veiled mothers for their children Koran A Koranic school in Pikine Faith The Touba mosque. Some rappers believe Europeans have become godless. "We can teach you the beauty and comfort of Islam. Because of your advanced technology, you think you can do without God" Style Senegalese rappers seldom value Western opinions or European culture. Their concerns are slavery, colonialism and the destination of Sierra Leone's diamonds. Even haircuts are politicised, such as this 'Lumumba' hair style Ballgame A rapper shows his street skills during a performance to promote a first cassette by the group,'Pacotille', in a youth centre in the Yeumbeul district. 'Pacotille' raps in favour of human rights, yet believes that Salman Rushdie deserves his death sentence Rehearsal The 'Pee Froiss,' 'Abbas,' and 'ALIF' groups prepare for a concert in Lille, France Recording A recording of a 'promo' of the 'Flam G' group. Rappers hope that a 'promo' may eventually lead to a real commercial recording, a goal rarely achieved Future The 'Tim Timol' group in Pikini district. Father Mounty (in the foreground) proclaimed: "What I don't understand with you, white people, is that you always need to be busy. We have no problem at all wasting time. What we do a lot is thinking, about life, the future, anything"