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Last Updated: Monday, 10 July 2006, 00:12 GMT 01:12 UK
Senegal migrant song hits the net
By Joseph Winter
BBC News

African migrant in Canary Islands
Young Senegalese have given up all hope at home, Awadi says
A hard-hitting song accusing Senegal's government of forcing young people to risk their lives to seek their fortunes abroad has been an internet success - ahead of its official release planned later this week.

The rap song Sunugaal, which means Our Canoe in the Wolof language, has been set to a slideshow of photographs showing the faces of miserable migrants arriving in rickety wooden boats in the Canary Islands, after a perilous 100km (60-mile) journey across the Atlantic Ocean.

But the man behind the song, DJ Awadi, says he is not trying to use the internet to market his latest release, just trying to educate people.

"I don't want to make money from the death of people," he told the BBC News website.

Drowned

Awadi says the man who runs the website for his Studio Sankara suggested adding the slideshow and they e-mailed the link to friends, with a request to circulate it as widely as possible.

The combination is extremely powerful, with mournful singing interspersed with angry rapping, hard-hitting lyrics and heart-wrenching pictures which capture the hardship of the migrants.

DJ Awadi
We can't close our eyes. We have a duty to criticise for things to improve
DJ Awadi
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The site had 10,000 hits within two days, he says.

DJ Awadi, one of Senegal's best known rappers and producers, says this is the first time he has put one of his songs on the internet.

He says that if Sunugaal does exceptionally well after its online exposure, he may consider doing the same with other songs.

Awadi says the migration problem is so serious that he felt he had to play his part.

"I have friends who have died - some arrived in Spain but said they had survived after their boat sank and others had drowned," he said.

So far this year, more than 10,000 Africans have arrived in boats on Spanish beaches.

Thousands have died along the way.

Senegal's long coastline now seems to be the main point of departure, after security was tightened in Morocco, from where the sea crossings to Europe are much shorter.

'Not political'

Awadi points the finger of blame firmly at the governments of Senegal and other African countries in his song:

"You promised me I would have a job
You promised me I would have food
You promised me I would have real work and hope
But so far - nothing
That's why I am leaving, that's why I am taking off in this canoe
Swearing not to stay here a second longer
I would prefer to die than to live in this hell."

Immigrants intercepted near Tenerife
Some 10,000 African migrants have landed in Spain this year

He sings about corruption and the politicisation of the legal system, with journalists and opposition politicians in jail, while thieves and robbers are set free, if they are ever arrested.

Awadi denies that he is entering the political arena.

"We can't close our eyes. We have a duty to criticise for things to improve," he says.

He says he has not had any problems with the authorities - yet - and has made equally fierce criticism of the government in the past.

"In theory, we have freedom of expression in Senegal. In practice, we will see," he says.

And has his song made any difference?

"Attitudes won't change overnight. We all need to play our part - musicians, politicians, the whole society."




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Listen to DJ Awadi's song



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