Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Humanities, PhD

Committee Chair

Masolo, Dismas

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Fleming, Tyler

Committee Member

Fleming, Tyler

Committee Member

Logan, Mawuena

Committee Member

Diagne, Souleyman Bachir

Author's Keywords

social movements; neo pan-africanism; francophone Africa; y en a marre; Senegal; cyber activism


The emergence of the Y en a marre movement in 2011 has reshaped the face of social activism in Francophone sub-Saharan Africa. In less than a decade of its existence, Y’en a marre has become iconic in Senegalese civil society and beyond. Their effective opposition to the Wade regime between 2011 and 2012 reverberated beyond the Senegalese border through their slogan “touche pas à ma constitution” (Do not touch my constitution), a rallying cry that young people in Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of Congo later appropriated, thus giving the movement a Pan-African platform. The birth of Y’en a Marre and its confrontation methods (street protests, verbal attacks via radio, TV, concerts, rap sons to name a few) enabled several important interrogations that this project aims at exploring. What triggers the formation of social movements in contemporary Senegal and Francophone West Africa? How does Y’en a Marre’s blueprint fit in the general struggle for Pan-Africanism today? How are music and art used to create a transnational solidarity against bad governance and foreign influence in West African affairs? This dissertation explores how contemporary social movements in Francophone West Africa are re-appropriating Pan-African principles to fight for democracy and good governance as well as to curb foreign influence in African affairs.

This dissertation argues that such movements use various innovative means including music, visual art, social media, and street protests to draw popular support and foment resistance to confront regimes that fail to safeguard basic democratic principles, such as fair and transparent elections. In doing so, social movements in Francophone West Africa help foster a new era in the development of Pan-Africanism called “Neo Pan-Africanism” in which social activist and popular movements become one of the key driving forces of Pan-Africanism as a transatlantic movement and ideology. The dissertation also contends that the Y’en a marre movement is spearheading a new type of transnational collaboration partly grounded in popular culture (especially hip-hop), advocacy training and sometimes litigation, to enable social movements in West Africa to fight against common issues that pertain to the safeguard of their national sovereignties.