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Senegal: “Enough is Enough” Movement: First the Web, Now the Presidential Palace

As uprisings continue across the Arab World, several incidences of angry young people have sprung up on Senegalese websites. Since early March, this activism has left the web behind and a group calling itself “Y'en a marre” (Enough is Enough) has now become the main symbol of the protests.

Founded in January 2011, Enough is Enough arose from frustration built up during power cuts that brought Senegal to a standstill. The group hails from the Dakar suburbs and is led by several local rappers, including Fou Malad, Thiat (from the group Keur Gui) and Matador. An article on Afrik.com explains the story behind the movement [this and all subsequent links in French].

The group does not hold anything back on its Facebook page:

The time has passed for moaning in your living room or futile complaining about power cuts. We refuse to accept the systematic rationing imposed in our homes to supply electricity. We're sick and tired of it. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

The group has now transformed its discontent at power cuts into a mobilisation movement for young people. It attacks mass unemployment, police brutality and corruption. But above all, it tries to make people take part.

On 19 March, Enough is Enough held a protest in Dakar's Place de l'Obélisque (Obelisk Square), using its website to summon young Dakarois there. The organisers certainly knew how to get their message across: black t-shirts with “y'en a marre” in white letters were distributed around the crowd. There were also rhythmic, rap-style slogans, and both youth speak and the local Wolof language were heard.

The outcome: several hundred young enthusiasts, but most notably, the police – who were on the lookout under the shadow of the obelisk – did not use any tear gas. (Video):

To keep its momentum, the group has given itself a new objective: mobilise young people and give them a voice in anticipation of the 2012 presidential election. The organisers have redefined their message and come up with a new slogan: “ma carte d'electeur, mon vote” (“my polling card, my vote”).

On 15 April they launched a national campaign called Daas Fanaanal (a Wolof verb meaning “to protect oneself”), which aims to encourage young people to vote without pledging allegiance to any particular party.

Many young Senegalese have shown their support for the campaign on Facebook and Twitter, such as this post by Mamadou Dieye:

Enough is also enough because the majority of the 1.4 million young people of voting age will not register on the electoral roll. They're always quick to complain but never do anything about it. Y'en a marre will only succeed in the challenge it has set itself if it helps to wreck the Interior Minister's plan to leave all young people who don't support the Government off the electoral roll!

Enough is Enough does not hesitate to slam President Abdoulaye Wade's government, and the government is not sitting idly by. The group claims to have been put under a lot of pressure, and says it has received threats from the authorities. One press conference was cancelled when the landlord of Janeer, the bar in which it was supposed to take place, was pressurised by police.

The police also seized loudspeakers seized at a rally on 19 March, 2011, in the city of Rufisque, close to Dakar, despite the fact that the group had been granted official permission to hold the event.

Thiat, one of the leaders of the group, explains that it is first and foremost a movement of citizens, not an anti-Wade movement:

We are on the side of neither the President nor the opposition, we are on the side of the people and we are creating a movement which guards and upholds the respect of democracy and the institutions of Senegal. If the “enough is enough” movement is closer to the opposition right now, its founders have said that's because we're taking on the concerns of the citizens.

The group wants change. Period. Its growing popularity has made it April's catch of the month . The group instantly responded :

Y'en a marre is not a fish.

Small fish in a big pond, or mini revolution? The real extent of its impact on the 2012 presidential campaign will be known soon. The fact remains, only the rappers of the Dakar suburbs are speaking out. During Senegal's last presidential election campaign in 2007, the only passing mention of youth issues arose from the “Concrete Generation” movement. Its figurehead was Karim Wade, the then 39 year-old son of President Wade. To say that young people are missing from Senegalese politics is an understatement.

Enough is Enough is not a call for the overthrow of the government, and it talks the line of democracy and non-violence. Its revolution will affect every ballot box in Senegal. These events confirm that the Senegalese people believe in the power of their ballot papers, but above all that the next presidential election campaign has long since begun, and this time, Senegal's youth will not settle for a role as mere spectators.

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