Friday, 24 November 2017

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(W)rapping up Ebola in Senegal

Rapper Canabasse in Ebola Music Video

15 October 2014 - The Ebola outbreaks in Senegal and Nigeria have been far smaller than in other West African countries, with 29 confirmed cases in total between the two countries, and the virus so far contained.

Both countries implemented strict measures to isolate the ill and track down further possible cases. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, however, failed to impose such steps, allowing the disease to take hold.

Ebola poster wolof

But Senegal, with zero cases today, didn’t rely only on health officials – information was once again spread by the creative community through both TV, radio and social medias, as bloggers in the country quickly mobilised themselves, creating the #SenStopEbola –hashtag and a Stop Ebola Facebook page with almost 10.000 followers today.

And as smartphones are rapidly becoming commonplace, an app was launched, through which one can receive information on the disease in Wolof, Senegal’s lingua franca.

Music, and music videos, however, may well prove to be the best tools in the combat for awareness.

In the country of Teranga (hospitality), the famous Y’en a marre (We’ve had it) – movement once again took matters in their own hands even before the bloggers, much like during the previous presidential elections when they mobilized youth to take a stand and vote for the opposition leader Macky Sall. The music video "Faux Pas Forcer" (Don't force it) became hugely popular among youth, tired with the government and the ruling president, Abdoulaye Wade.

Founded by the rap group Keur Gi,  this collective of Senegalese hip hop artists quickly produced a music video about Ebola, gathering not only famous rappers (Fou Malade, Canabasse, PPS)  but also other Senegalese big names like Aida Samb and Ousmane Gangue – plus all the children who participated in this years televised singing contest Sen P’tit Galle, comparable to Idols or The Voice Kids in Europe.

Singer El Hadji Ndiaye joined the movement as well, and redid a video of his famous tube “Bonjour” from 1999, about the importance of prevention of malaria. But today his remade video features popular artists like Carlou D and Takeifa holding posters urging people to take action – not only against malaria, but Ebola as well.

Combining rap with startling images of the disease, Kilifeu justifies the harsh visuals: “You have to call a cat a cat and not shun away from reality”, he says in an interview with Jeune Afrique. “By showing this, we want to push people to take the proper precautions. “

UPDATE 17 October 2014: The UN Health Agency officially declared an end to the Ebola outbreak in Senegal. The World Health Organization commends the country for its diligence in putting a stop to the transmission of the virus. 

UNRIC's related links:
Library backgrounder on Ebola

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