By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
Early last week Monday, Senegalese youth movement Y’en a Marre embarked on a three-day tour to The Gambia to introduce their Mboka Concept to Gambian Civil Society organizations. According to the group the aim of the trip was to conduct series of meet and greet between Gambian and Senegalese Civil Society Organisations to establish a working relationship and strengthening the cultural ties between both countries via an exchange program called “MBOKA”. This kind of meeting would never have been possible during the previous regime as Y’en a Marre are well known for their stance against bad governance and the dictatorship in particular. Their song “Against Impunity” which featured Thiat, was a popular anthem in the fight against dictatorship.
Some of the Y’en a Marre members who attended the trip include, Thiat (Rapper from Keur Gui), Alieu Sene (Journalist) and Maimuna Ndaiye (Project Manager). The group was hosted by Rapper Killa Ace’s (ALi Cham) group, Team Gom Sa Bopa. Y’en a Marre has been collaborating with numerous African movements across Africa for some time now. Highlighting the strong bond between the two movements Killa Ace said “We cannot forget that Y’en a Marre as a movement inspired someone like me to create something like Team Gom Sa Bopa. When I did ‘Ku Boka Chi Geta G’ it was one of the reasons why I did it because I saw you ‘Thiat’ and the rest of the Y’en a Marre members do a song called no to Impunity. I was like wow if these people in Senegal can do a song against our system then how about us.”
Gambians are accustomed to seeing Politicians jet across the globe on huge per-diems, however, the sight of SeneGambian youths collaborating and networking over a series of meetings seemed to make some uncomfortable. Some opined that Y’en a Marre is a protest movement and are planning with Gambian youths to protest against the government. Others like myself felt that the SeneGambian relationship is symbolic of a special bond between two African countries. It’s this belief which fuels the dream that Mboka can be a vehicle to propel us towards a united Africa, a new African determined and capable of addressing our most dire concerns.
According to Killa Ace who fled into exile after releasing his viral song “Ku Boka Chi Geta G”, “when life was difficult in exile in Senegal, they were the first people to open up their arms for us and told us come, we got you. Let’s make this fight one fight. We are Senegalese you are Gambian but we are affected by the situation today, and we are all on the same path towards fighting for democracy and for Freedom of the Gambian people. That being the case I really believe that the Mboka initiative is just to bridge the gap between Gambia and Senegal. As the old way didn’t work, we all know the political way didn’t work it’s been sour for the last decade.”
“We have to understand that Senegal and Gambia goes beyond Politics. It starts off from the social roots from what we wear to what we eat to what we speak and initiatives like Mboka will only strengthen those ties and that’s one of the most important things.”
Killa Ace – Rapper/Activist with Team Gom Sa Bopa
CSO’s Meet and Greet
Day one of the tour saw the Mboka team (Y’en a Marre and Team Gom Sa Bopa), hold meetings with five different civil society organizations and social enterprises at their respective offices. The groups they meet include the Institute of Human Rights and Development in Africa, Peace Ambassadors The Gambia, Beakanyang, Gambia Has Decided, the National Youth Parliament and Hot Ink Media respectively. The second day of the tour saw more meetings with Tango, Activista, Power Of Freedom, Gambia’s Victims Center, Not in my Name and Occupy Westfield respectively.
Speaking at a meet and greet, Thiat explained that “after the protest that we did [in Senegal]in 2011, and then better organise ourselves in 2012 to reach the whole country. In terms of the project that we made happen called Dok Ak Sa Gok, etc. We travelled the whole country and established that kind of civic awareness. The most important thing in a country is when the population are ready when the population are aware. When they are involved in what is going on in their own country.”
“Our whole project is about the new kind of Senegalese. Like get rid of the bad habits we are used to have which is accepting the corruption. You are also part of the problem.”
Thiat – Rapper/Activist with Y’en a Marre and Keur Gui
“We’ve been traveling the world but we haven’t been yet in The Gambia. This is a big surprise because Gambia is just next door. The political system made it worse than what the colonizers did. In reality, we are one nation because we share the same cultures and realities. This is why we decided to establish a new platform called Mboka which means my family. Having the platform Mboka will help us to learn from you guys and you also learn from us. Making the relationship between SeneGambians more fluent in terms of protest, civil society knowledge, civic participation, the role of civil society itself and also through art bring back what we have in common which is the culture, languages and all that.”
According to the Director of IHRDA, Mr. Gaye Sowe “This is really a wonderful initiative. At the time there was that crisis at the time the border was closed there were political problems but it didn’t stop us from interacting. As civil society, we shouldn’t sit back and expect all the initiatives to come from our government. This is something we should have started a long time ago. I’m happy we’re thinking about that, I’ happy all of us are thinking along those lines.”
“I don’t think it’s possible for either of our countries to progress without the others. Like they say in Wollof ‘diganteh b dafa jarah ratahal, lee koh ratahal’.”
Mr Gaye Sowe, Executive Director of IHRDA
“If we see an organisation, if we see a movement, if we see individuals who are working towards that then as SeneGambians all we can do is support that. Like you said this is not about whatever the Political leaders are going to do. If this scheme works this will be perfect.”
The trip was concluded with a well-attended press conference by numerous media houses at YMCA. Some of the key initiatives discussed included the possibility of hosting ‘Mboka’ spaces where workshops can be held and different collaboration initiatives can be held to enhance the synergy between the two countries. According to Thiat “the final project maybe in three years’ time is to have an office like this in The Gambia with Senegalese History, Senegalese Political history, Culture and everything, that people will come here and have information about what is happening there, with a library, conference room for civil society. The same office can be made in Senegal. We came to find out what is your question, what is your concern and if you have an input? That is why we came on this first trip.”