In Dakar, under the graffiti, the anger

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No sooner had she turned on her heels than her country was on fire. Senegalese graffiti artist Dieynaba Sidibé, alias Zeinixx, is in Geneva, invited by the Film Festival and International Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH). With two Genevan graffiti artists, she creates a large fresco on a building opposite the Geneva University Hospitals on female voice in public space.

Meanwhile, thousands of kilometers away, Senegalese youth took to the streets following the arrest of Ousmane Sonko on Wednesday. The opponent was released on Monday but remains under judicial supervision after being indicted in a rape case. Not sure that this is enough to bring calm. The country is in a state of astonishment, after several days of riots and looting, which left at least five dead.

Indeed, the arrest last week of the anti-system politician, very popular with the youth, set fire to the powders in Dakar and in other cities of the country. So much so that Senegal, a haven of stability and tolerance in West Africa, called on the army for reinforcements and suspended several media outlets accused of covering the protests too diligently and of pouring oil on them. fire.

Read also: Senegalese justice orders to release opponent Ousmane Sonko under judicial supervision

“Destroy the sketch”

To understand this sudden conflagration, Zeinixx uses a metaphor: “In Senegal, the sketch is destroyed, before the fresco is finished”. The graffiti artist refers to the legal troubles which, in recent years, have opportunely dismissed several opponents of power.

Arrived in third position in 2019 for his first participation in the presidential election, with 15% of the vote very far behind President Macky Sall, the troublemaker Ousmane Sanko was a promise, in anticipation of the next election in 2024. A ballot for which the leader Outgoing state leaves room for doubt, setting up a noxious atmosphere. If he launches again, he would run for a third term in defiance of the Constitution and resume a bad habit in West Africa.

The rape charges? “A masquerade”

Ousmane Sanko is accused of having abused an employee of a massage parlor and of having threatened her with death. His parliamentary immunity was quickly lifted. Finally, he was arrested for “disturbing public order” when he was going surrounded by his supporters when summoned by a judge. “He was in his car, how could he disturb public order”, indignant Zeinixx, for whom these pursuits are a “masquerade that must end”.

“The youth can’t take it anymore. It could only explode, ”Zeinixx analyzes. Beret screwed on the head and jeans stained with paint, the young woman is the eldest at the top of her 30 years. According to her, the restrictions and the curfew due to the Covid-19 pandemic are not the only cause, even if the precariousness has increased. Senegal’s economic growth is stalled. The country is however presented by Switzerland and its Minister of Foreign Affairs Ignazio Cassis, who was visiting Dakar in February, as a “lioness”, that is to say, one of the most economically promising countries in the world. continent. “We have the impression that we are gradually stripped of our freedoms”, asserts Zeinixx, calmly.

“We are rarely refused walls”

The graffiti artist is not at all excited. Certainly, it claims the rebellious character of graffiti, one of the pillars of hip-hop culture. But, in Senegal, graffiti is well accepted. They have a social function, while a large part of the population is illiterate. “We are rarely refused walls. Because we ask the permission of the owners. We are not vandals, ”she explains. “We are speaking to the inhabitants, so it is better to consult them. Thus, they help us and participate in the works ”.

Just before coming to Geneva, Zeinixx, for example, contributed to a fresco on illegal emigration produced in a district of Dakar. Work funded by Italian cooperation. The message: local opportunities exist and they are less risky than the hazardous crossing to the Canaries. Spokesperson for Africulturban, an association that promotes street culture and hip-hop, the graffiti artist, who also does slam, wants to pass on what she has learned about asphalt.

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“You have to be stubborn and chart your course as you wish,” she advises. Her family finally sided with the artistic aspirations of the youngest. One of the few women in a very masculine masculine environment, she said she had to “be strong not to let go.” “Hip-hop culture is full of sexist clichés and a little creepy,” she concedes. However, she says she suffered more from outside looks than from the remarks of other graffiti artists.