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How Senegal's artists are changing the system with a mic and spray paint

Babacar Niang, known as Matador, raps at a recording studio at one of Africulturban's facilities in Pikine, Senegal on April 26, 2018.
Ricci Shryock for NPR
Babacar Niang, known as Matador, raps at a recording studio at one of Africulturban's facilities in Pikine, Senegal on April 26, 2018.

In 2005, heavy rains flooded neighborhoods around Dakar, Senegal, forcing tens of thousands of people out of their homes.

It was the worst downpour in decades and Babacar Niang, a rapper also known as Matador, witnessed the devastation.

"People's faces read worry first, then fear," reads one line from his song, "Catastrophe."

But he couldn't just sit there and write songs about it, he wanted to do more.

In 2006, he founded Africulturban, a cultural center where young people go to create music and art.

The center feeds into a large and lively hip-hop scene that is often socially conscious.

Listen to our full report by clicking or tapping the play button above.

Mallika Seshadri contributed to this report. contributed to this story

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.
Ayen Bior
Ayen Deng Bior is a producer at NPR's flagship evening news program, All Things Considered. She helps shape the sound of the daily shows by contributing story ideas, writing scripts and cutting tape. Her work at NPR has taken her to Warsaw, Poland, where she heard from refugees displaced by the war in Ukraine. She has spoken to people in Saint-Louis, Senegal, who are grappling with rising seas. Before NPR, Bior wore many hats at the Voice of America's English to Africa service where she worked in radio, television and digital. Bior began her career reporting on the revolution in Sudan, the developing state of affairs in South Sudan and the experiences of women behind the headlines in both countries. In her spare time, Bior loves to kayak, read and bird watch.
Ricci Shryock

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