Committed to fighting oppression, Senegal rapper Didier Awadi has inspired a generation of young rappers and made a vital contribution not only to Senegalese music and politics but to the entire African music scene. In recognition of this contribution, Awadi was recently given an award by Artwatch Africa, an arm of the pan-continental body Arterial Network, ahead of his performance on the final night of Le Kolatier in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
The award comes after Awadi was earlier this year selected as an ‘Artwatch Africa ambassadors’, alongside Soum Bill (Côte d'Ivoire), Josey (Côte d'Ivoire), Zeynab (Benin), Master Soumy (Mali), Monza (Mauritania), Smockey (Burkina Faso), Alif Naaba (Burkina Faso), Awa Sissao (Burkina Faso), Pheno Bi (Niger) and Ade Bantu (Nigeria). The artists teamed up record a single, ‘Right To Life’ (or 'Droit de vivre'), as well as a video for the track. The song, according to producer Smockey, was an opportunity by the artists from across the continent to unite their voices and record song on freedom of expression. The studio where the track was recorded, Studio Abazon in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, was bombed in mid-September, allegedly by supporters of coup leader General Gilbert Diendéré - highlighting the significance of Awadi and the rest of the group's courageous work.
It was for Awadi’s commitment and involvement in the defence and the struggle for the rights and freedom of expression that Artwatch Africa presented him with a trophy on Saturday 10 October 2015 in Yaoundé. Awadi was in Cameroon not only to perform at Le Kolatier but was also a special guest at the recent Music In Africa annual general meeting, as well as the Arterial Network African Creative Economy Conference, which took place during the same week.
Arguably the most prominent rapper from Francophone Africa, Awadi first emerged in the late 1980s as part of the duo Positive Black Soul. In 2003 he won of the prestigious RFI Discoveries prize. As an artist, activist and entrepreneur, he continues to devote his energy to raising consciousness through hip-hop. As a committed Pan-Africanist, Awadi is concerned about important issues of the continent, such as Africa’s heritage, illegal immigration, political conflicts and insecurity. He is also involved in the growth of the Senegalese musical sector through his recording studio and his rehearsal space, Studio Sankara.