Grammy-award winning singer, Angelique Kidjo has been awarded an Amnesty International Human Rights award, along with three other African youth activist movements.
They are joint winners of the Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2016. The other groups are Y’en a Marre from Senegal, Le Balai Citoyen from Burkina Faso and Lutte pour le Changement (LUCHA) from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They will be honored at the prestigious awards ceremony in Dakar, Senegal, on 28 May.
Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty describes the human rights award as “a celebration of those public figures who have shown exceptional courage in standing up to injustice. Angélique Kidjo and the members of Y’en a marre, le Balai Citoyen and LUCHA have all proved themselves to be bold advocates for human rights, using their talents to inspire others.”
Angelique Kidjo had to leave her country, the Republic of Benin due to the unstable political climate in the 1980s. Having had a successful music career, Angelique has been an ardent supporter of humanitarian issues. She was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador in 2002. She also has her own arm called the Batonga Foundation, to help fund and support education for young girls in Africa.
Y’en a Marre which means ‘Fed Up’ is a group of Senegalese rappers and journalists created in 2011 as an outcry against the ineffective government in Senegal. The group also helped young people register to vote. Their stance did not end with the election, as the group still stands as a kind of intermediary between the youth and government, urging on the government to fulfill their election promises.
Le Balai Citoyen ‘The Citizen’s/Civic Broom’ was co founded by two reggae artists in 2013, Sams’K Le Jah and rapper Smockey (Serge Bambara). The group is a political grassroots movement. The group was a significant part of the protests against ex president of Burkina Faso Blaise Compaoré who resigned and fled the country.
LUCHA was created in 2012 in eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is a community based youth movement that focuses on social issues, human rights and the protection of civilians from armed groups. LUCHA advocates for social justice and democratic governance through non-partisan and non-violent actions.
Previous recipients of the Ambassadors of Conscience human rights award include: Vaclav Havel (2003); Mary Robinson and Hilda Morales Trujillo (2004); U2 and Paul McGuinness (2005); Nelson Mandela (2006); Peter Gabriel (2008); Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (awarded 2009, presented 2012); Harry Belafonte and Malala Yousafzai (2013); Ai Wei Wei and Joan Baez (2015).