Senegal: Ten Senegalese Artists Paint the World of Tomorrow On the Walls of Dakar

As Senegal continues the fight against the COVID-19, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the European Union Delegation in Senegal joined forces with ten Senegalese urban artists to paint the post-pandemic world on the walls of Dakar, the capital of Senegal, to raise awareness among the population, including young people, of the COVID-19 and solidarity that must be demonstrated amid the crisis.

On the walls of the Dalal Jamm Hospital in Guédiawaye and Cheikh Anta Diop University in Fann, two of the city's busiest neighborhoods, graffiti freshly sprayed in the morning recall the values of solidarity, peace and resilience that should prevail amid the pandemic. The urban artists decided to join the fight against the Coronavirus with a different approach.

Xibaaru Mbedd (street information in Wolof) is an awareness-raising campaign involving visual artists and graffiti artists from around the country. Ten Dakar-based artists -- Thiat, Akonga, Beaugraff, Djib Anton, Fifty-Fifty, Freemind, Mad in Pixel, Madzoo, Zeinixx, and Diablos -- build on their talent to serve the community by painting over graffiti on themes including the compliance with barrier measures, stigmatization, and fight against misinformation.

The campaign, initiated by IOM in collaboration with the European Union and The Playwall, an artistic exchange platform based in Dakar, offers an opportunity for young artists to express their vision pertaining to the current crisis. For two months, they met in brainstorming workshops to work together to develop awareness-raising messages. A challenge they seem to have met with success.

"My message to the youth is to stand firm, we should not slacken our efforts to respect barriers measures and we should say that it is for our own benefit. Let's fight to the end so that we can all make it through together," said one of the graphic designers of the Dieynaba Sidibé project, also known as Zeinixx.

"The recent awareness-raising initiatives conducted by the Senegalese artists have once again proved to us that art is a powerful social tool for communication and empowerment," says Delphine Buysse, coordinator of the group and initiator of the platform The Playwall used as a virtual exhibition space for the project. "We decided to jointly address this crisis from a different perspective, that of the street," she added.

"Today we can take action, we can do it with the youth, but we should consider post-crisis period, as tomorrow is another day, "jango jam" (meaning literally "tomorrow comes"), yes tomorrow is another day with innovative solutions, inventiveness, creativity, colours, hope for Europe, for Africa, for young people, and for all. "Nio Farr." Niou ande daan coronavirus, "Together we can defeat the Coronavirus," said the Ambassador of the European Union in Senegal, Irene Mingansson, who attended the activities.

"The COVID-19 crisis affects all young people in West and Central Africa and impacts the migration dynamics in the sub-region," said Luca Putteman, Awareness-raising officer at IOM's Regional Office for West and Central Africa. "Artists bring a new perspective in the fight against the pandemic which enables young people in the region to envision tomorrow's world. The power of imagination helps to identify viable alternatives to irregular migration," she added.

An online exhibition is scheduled from 15 to 20 June on IOM Senegal's and The Playwall's platforms.

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