‘Barca mba Mbarzak’ - ‘Barcelona or hell’ – is the sentence every kid in Dakar grows up with: leave or die trying. Life is tough for many people in Africa, especially in the ever-expanding mega-cities like Dakar, Lagos and Nairobi where work is shared between millions and life is a hundred times more expensive than it was in the village. Getting to the west and the promise of a life with well-paid work is what is occupying everyone’s mind. With visas virtually impossible for the ordinary person to get and the internet and TV showing the life in Europe and the US, the image of Western life presses hard on the African mind. Paradise is just a canoe journey across the Atlantic away or a mad trek across the Sahara. Many thousands have died along the way, but thousands more have followed, even more determined to make it. Some have never been to school, don’t speak English, can’t swim, and do not know anyone where they are going. The thing that unites them is their determination: “Yes we can”, we can make it, get out, and live the life we have always dreamed of.
This compilation presents 15 artists from Africa and the Diaspora who share their perspective on migration. The CD starts with ‘(Still on a) Money Talk’ by Nigerian rapperRapturous from Berlin: “Gimme the glitz, the glamour, the fame, the fortune, that euro, that dollar, that Dolce & Gabbana …” dreaming of what it could be like “if I follow my dreams”. Senegalese Hip Hop stars Daara J Family are present with the exclusive track ‘Unité 75’, named after the 75 Cfa that a phone call to Europe costs in Senegal. It addresses a problem many immigrants face: the pressure to send money back home, money they often do not have. Another well-known Senegalese rapper, Matador, talks about the growing alienation the youth feel towards their home country Senegal: “The youth protest, kids organise a petition. The police catch them and beat them till they’re silent … if they don’t smoke ganja or drink wine, I don’t know what they’ll do to forget the pain.”
The freestyle rappers of CAPSI revolution, also from Dakar, are even more cynical: “Illegal immigration … I know that you’re destroying my continent, you empty us of the best people, to feed the depths of the Atlantic.” In ‘Green card’ Wanlovfrom Ghana talks about getting to the USA by marrying an older white woman from Texas.
Martin Pecheur from Cameroon sheds light on another perspective behind migration: he is infected by the ‘virus des sapeurs’, a movement originally from Congo that worships western designer clothes. They embody the power of having made it. Celebrating one’s riches is also in the heart of the Coupe Decalé movement from Ivory Coast that has brought Africa a dance craze which consists of displaying the designer clothes acquired in Europe. Coupe Decalé is represented here by one of the stars of the movement: Kedjevara. Izéfrom Cape Verde sings about going home for a different reason: he feels homesick in Paris and wants to go back to his home country to party with a funana dance.
These 15 songs reflect some of the many different perspectives on migration. Each one tells a different story that is confusing and complex but one that is ultimately shared by many Africans all over the world.