Contemporary music is a powerful tool to counsel West African youth at risk of being lured into attempting the dangerous journey as undocumented migrants through North Africa and the Mediterranean, to Europe.
IOM, the UN Migration Agency, has partnered with artists across West Africa to educate the youth about the perils of irregular migration and rally them behind a commitment to pursue their futures closer to home.
On 10 February, more than 10,000 enthusiastic young Guineans gathered at l’Esplanade de la Maison des Jeunes in Mamou, Guinea, for the launch of local famous rap group Degg J Force 3’s latest video Falé (the ‘Bridge’ in the local Susu language): a moving, realistic account of two young men’s journeys across the desert.
“Here it’s not Paris, dollars are waiting in America. I’m going to become someone there. When I return, I’ll buy land for my father. When I return, it’ll be the end of our misery,” says the young migrant in the video clip.
The lyrics describe the hardships faced by thousands of young migrants who choose to cross the desert every year in search of a better future for themselves and their families.
In 2017 alone, 6,604 Guinean migrants reached the Italian coast, mostly via Libya, making Guinea the second-most represented country (behind Nigeria) when considering all sea arrivals from Africa.
At the launch, the crowd joined their voices to chant the band’s motto, Entreprendre et Réussir chez Nous (Engage and Succeed at Home!).
Ablaye Mbaye from Degg J Force 3 told dozens of journalists, the slogan was rooted in his belief that there needs to be a positive change in the mentality of youth today.
One of those trying to nurture change is Ousmane Bangoura, a young migrant who returned from Niger with IOM’s assistance. He entertained the crowd with two songs based on his experiences as a teenage migrant, which he penned during his time in an IOM transition centre in Agadez.The event was broadcast live through various social media including IOM Guinea’s Facebook page.Future mass awareness raising events of this type are schedule for Boke on February 24, and March 3 in Conakry.