Last week, I went to a “Soirée de l’Amitié” for Fulbright and other exchange program alumni sponsored by the US Embassy’s Public Diplomacy office that is responsible for my program. Along with a serious and interesting discussion of violent extremism, very topical because of the terrorist attacks here in January, they showed a music video produced by one of the panel participants and supported by the embassy.
Here’s a link to the video on YouTube.
It is interesting because it includes a variety of important African musical stars including local rap star Smockey (aka Serge Bambara), who played an important role in the popular uprising that drove President Compaoré from power in 2014. Here’s a picture of Smockey from his website with his “Balai Citoyen” (civic broom) teeshirt on.
This is a really good example of the use of social media in a positive way to advance national goals. One could call it propaganda, but it is certainly propaganda in a good cause. And to the extent that young people in Mali or Niger are seeing this on their cell phones, the fact that big hip-hop stars are saying that extremist violence is unacceptable may keep some people from supporting violent movements. Let’s hope so, anyway.