- Title: NIGER: Music group raps about youth problems in Niger.
- Date: 15th November 2011
- Summary: VARIOUS OF MEMBERS OF THE MUSIC GROUP DANCING SURROUNDED BY YOUNG CHILDREN CLAPPING
- Embargoed: 30th November 2011 12:00
- Location: Niger, Niger
- Country: Niger
- Topics: Arts
- Reuters ID: LVA6THTTLQAINTNCUJQJEW38WRXX
- Story Text: A local music group in Niger highlights issues of unemployment, poverty and insecurity in the region. The group was formerly based in Libya and is now trying to form a fan base back home in Niger's Agadez region.
Unemployment, the arms trade, fighting in Libya and boredom are all rich pickings for the Emankayan music group who have made a name for themselves singing and rapping about the problems facing youth in Niger today.
Formed in 2004 by a group of Nigeriens living in Libya, the group has become increasingly popular back home, where their tuneful laments about the state of poverty and lack of opportunity in the region have struck a chord with a generation of disenchanted youth.
Their latest album 'Kouskous', a mix of traditional music played on guitar and drums mixed in with singing and rapping in French and Haoussa is a tribute to everything band members say is wrong with Niger today.
"Why do we in Agadez have mining companies and the towns are deserted and young people have left in an exodus? Why are the towns no good? The reality is that there are no roads, there are not even gutters or drains. Why on television do we see beautiful cities but with us there are no resources and they (the government) does nothing?" said band member DJ Balza.
The group recently returned to Agadez following the onset of fighting in Libya's revolution.
While they stop short of suggesting Niger's youth should rise up in their own violent revolution, they say they'd like to see more action by young people on the issues that matter to them.
"We're having a revolution but the revolution that we're involved with is the anger that we have about political problems in our country," said Mathias Daniel, a singer in the group who's also studying at the local university.
Niger has a largely subsistence based economy centered on agriculture and regional food exports. The landlocked country is consistently ranked near the bottom of worldwide human development indexes with large parts of the country heavily dependent on outside aid.
Unemployment in Niger is particularly bad for young men, hundreds of whom leave each year to find work and opportunities in neighbouring countries and further afield.
Since the unrest in Libya, local journalist Diallo Manzo says, the problems facing youth have got even worse. Those who managed to leave to get employment in the construction or oil industries are now flooding back with no prospects for the future.
"Today we're following events in Libya there are a lot of young people who used to work in Libya who have come back and found nothing. These young people have nothing to occupy them. There is no work, there's nothing for them to do," Manzo said.
But if resources are sparse, musical talent is not hard to come by in a region steeped in ancient music and dance traditions, something Emankayan are keen to market to a wider audience.
"There are so many festivals that go on in Europe where all you see is young people from Mali, from Senegal and Ivory Coast playing. Why not us Nigeriens? We also need to participate in these festivals to show our talent, to reveal what we've got to offer, to show our richness. Truly, that's our objective to make our music travel. Not just to make it here but elsewhere," said Makris Cecil founder of the group.
So far performances have been restricted gigs in the local area and advertised with flyers printed off by the band. But with a new album already in the making, Cecil and his band mates hope it's only a matter of time before their music travels beyond Niger's borders, speaking to generations of young people across the continent and the wider world.
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