The Rise of a New Senegalese Cultural Philosophy?


  • Devin Bryson


The Senegalese social movement Y’en a Marre formed in 2011 in response to political stagnation and a lack of key public services. It played a decisive role in defeating incumbent president Abdoulaye Wade in his unconstitutional reelection campaign in 2012. This article considers the movement within the context of postcolonial Senegalese cultural politics. After a brief survey of the recent forms of hip-hop engagement with social issues in other African countries, this study presents Y’en a Marre as articulating a social identity, a collective movement, and a cultural/musical form that are distinct from these other examples of hip-hop activism because they are continuations of a specifically Senegalese hybrid of art and social engagement imagined first by Senghor. Y’en a Marre is a culminating articulation of various trends within post-independence Senegalese culture by bridging the divide between tradition and modernity, between the national and the local, between elders and youth. Y’en a Marre combatted the threat to Senegal’s prized political stability, and has continued to challenge social and political stagnation, by reconfiguring, but also confirming, Senegalese cultural philosophy for a diverse, inclusive audience.