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Hip hop festival promotes stability, mobilizes youth against extremism in Sahel

“Hip hop artists such as Morocco's hip hop star Sultana (above), Tunisia's Medisa, France's Sniper band, and Senegal's rap star Bogostyle, will take part this year's round of Assalamalekoum Festival,” which begins June 20 in Nouakchott, Mauritania.  Magharebia

“Hip hop artists such as Morocco’s hip hop star Soultana (above), Tunisia’s Medisa, France’s Sniper band, and Senegal’s rap star Bogostyle, will take part this year’s round of Assalamalekoum Festival,” which begins June 20 in Nouakchott, Mauritania. Magharebia

Magharebia, by Jemal Oumar (Nouakchott, Mauritania, June 17, 2013) — Hip-hop artists, rappers and music bands from Niger, Senegal, France and other countries are set to perform in Nouakchott at the annual Assalamalekoum Festival.

The week-long festival that begins June 20th is an annual reminder about the dangers of terrorism and extremism, festival director Limam Kane said.

“The Assalamalekoum Festival also mobilizes people against clandestine immigration, putting an end to religious and ethnic conflicts and encouraging settlement in the countryside,” Kane (also known as “Monza”) added.

American artist Kokayi will give a concert entitled “Rap music and democracy”, the director said. “He will, in partnership with other artists, seek to combat extremism among young people.”

Some 77 artists, mostly amateurs, took part in the 3rd round of the first screening contest, known as “Assalamalekoum to Discover Art Talents.” Young people of various ages were selected from among them. They will present their shows at the end of the week.

Rappers from the Maghreb and beyond take part in the Assalamalekoum Festival preliminary contest. Jemal Oumar, Magharebia

Rappers from the Maghreb and beyond take part in the Assalamalekoum Festival preliminary contest. Jemal Oumar, Magharebia

“All stages have been positive, as we managed to mobilize many young people from different Sahel countries to present hip hop shows in an atmosphere of positive competition,” Monza added. “Some of them will take part in concerts this week and next week, whether as part of Assalamalekoum Festival or of World Music Day.”

“Through these activities, we try to make young people in the Sahel, especially in Mauritania, engage in culture,” Monza noted.

“I’m sad to say that our efforts haven’t so far gone beyond Nouakchott, which alone responded to the call of Assalamalekoum Festival,” he added.

In gratitude, organizers planned “a special festival called ‘Alekoum salam’ to express gratitude for the young people in Nouakchott who responded to us,” Monza said.

“Hip hop artists such as Morocco’s hip hop star Soultana, Tunisia’s Medisa, France’s Sniper band, and Senegal’s rap star Bogostyle, will take part this year’s round of Assalamalekoum Festival and associated activities,” journalist Babakr Enjai told Magharebia.

Enjai, who is charge of the festival’s media relations, praised the event’s role in discovering young hip hop artists.

“More opportunities must be provided to have young people discover their potential rather than use them in negative fields, such as violence and deviation,” he said.

In the past years, according to Enjai, festival organizers promoted a discourse that “helped raise awareness among thousands of young people about the dangers of extremism and terrorism”.

“Assalamalekoum Festival is an event we wait for every year,” Ibrahim Jallo said.

“We see ourselves in this festival and all other associated activities, starting with the artist casting contest and ending with the music soirées,” his friend Mokhtar Vall said. “I wish to be a hip hop star, like my friends who succeeded in the contest last week. I’m here to watch them.”

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