On February 25th 2007, nearly 7 years after establishing a democratically elected government, Senegal, a coastal country in West Africa will hold presidential elections. However, democracy is at risk in Senegal. There is widespread concern that incumbent president Abdoulaye Wade (pictured) and his followers will interfere with the democratic process necessary to hold free elections. In recent months, opposition leaders have been jailed, journalists silenced, and the youth who were instrumental in helping to rid their country of single party rule years before, are now afraid to speak out.
The Democracy in Dakar project an interactive, multi media project founded by global music label Nomadic Wax and co produced in conjunction with Sol Productions plans to document the election process through the eyes of Senegalese hip-hop artists as it unfolds on the Streets of Dakar through documentary film, audio recordings and ethnographic research.
In Senegal rap music has become more than just a form of entertainment, it is a means for young people to express themselves and address social issues and politics by drawing both upon the realities of urban poverty and the rich musical tradition of Senegal. Senegalese rap music has always been a revolutionary style of music. It is a medium through which poverty stricken youth can express themselves and bring about change. Rappers have found themselves leaders of a movement where rap is used to educate, politicize, and mobilize the urban youth of Senegal. In the year 2000 the young Senegalese used hip-hop music to rise up against an illegitimate leader and helped to bring about democracy in what world leaders have hailed as one of the more stable democratic elections in Africa. The role the hip-hop community played in that election was so great that President Elect Abdoulaye Wade made a public speech thanking them.
The Democracy in Dakar project plans to document what the 2007 elections will bring for this movement and for the country of Senegal. On February 14th, 2007 production teams arriving in Senegal will bring video and audio gear in an effort to document the democratic process as it unfolds on the street. A mixture of journalism, academic inquiry, Internet reality TV, and hip hop activism, the Democracy in Dakar project will capture this historic period of time in its entirety. The team will record 10-minute video documentary shorts every 3 days. These will then be uploaded onto the Democracy in Dakar website (africanunderground.com) as well as You Tube, My Space and other viral media and social networking websites. The videos will then be available for people to send via email, send to friends, and embed in blogs to help facilitated dialogue and spread the word about this historic event.
The Democracy in Dakar project will launch on February 20th, 2007.