Professor Brezault hosted two renown Senegalese artists for a 2-day visit on campus whose work has been nourished by political and social activism to keep democracy alive in Senegal. Simon Kouka is a famous rapper, slammer whose new project “Rapping History” gives voice to forgotten African historical personalities (Cheikh Anta Diop, Aline Sitoe, etc.) and Docta is one of the precursors of African graffiti and urban art in West Africa who raises awareness about socio-political issues faced by Senegalese people whose voices have been repressed by current political powers. Together, they created in 2011 the movement Y’en a marre (“Enough is enough”) to mobilize young people to vote by using what its members called “Urban Guerrilla Poetry.” These two urban griots (African storytellers) advocate for freedom and democracy by vesting their aesthetics in some of the cultural traditions of their country.
They visited Professor McKie’s government class and Professor Kenniston’s history class and talked to students about the importance of art and activism in their work. They also went to Professor VanderZee’s class on Contemporary Global Issues at Suny Canton to meet other students and discuss the political situation in Senegal.
Their talk at SLU was on “Hip Hop, Urban Cultures and Democracy” and they explained how their art is nourished by their own community and how it is important for them to give back to the people in their community and learn from them. Their art has been used as a counterpower to raise political awareness in their own country.
The event is sponsored by the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery; Music; Art & Art History’s Jeanne Scribner Cashin Fund, World Languages, Culture, and Media; Anthropology; Area Studies; English; African Studies; Government; Global Studies; and Digital, Media and Film.