If you ask anybody in the streets of Cameroon, Boko Haram is the organization that is terrorizing the people living near the Cameroon-Nigeria border. I heard they want to Islamize Africa and the world. Others say they just want their independent nation within the region where they spread fear. I say Boko Haram is a terrible tragedy that should have never been part of any country’s history. But it’s there and somehow, we have to deal with it.
The President of Cameroon Paul Biya has reportedly been working super hard to develop strategies that would improve the situation. Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan is hopefully doing his part. And thank God and the neighboring countries for the troops that were recently deployed to the war zone. But I am still waiting to see what hip hop will do.
History says hip hop was born because black people were desperately looking for their own culture in America, a way of talking, dressing and living that would be theirs. Gangsta rap came as the voice of the people. It could tell out loud what black people were enduring in silence. If you could not say “Fuck the police,” then NWA would say it for you. Hip hop was born because black people needed something they could relate to. Something that would be true to what they are and what they are experiencing. Black people were lost in a world that was not trying to include them, hip hop found a way for that new generation.
Someone who lost his/her way can be an opportunity or a threat. When you lack a purpose in life, all you need is someone who can sell you a dream. A dream you can buy. If you are lost, you can find a way depending on who will influence you. You can even end up being part of a group like Boko Haram. These people aren’t so different from us. We all want to find a purpose in life and someone believable enough to sell it to us. Some people saw in hip hop what they wanted to have: fame, money, women, a sense of belonging in something that would change the world, whatever it was, there was a reason why they chose hip hop. The young supporters of Boko Haram also had their promise.
In the time we are living today, for what hip hop stands for, I am a bit disappointed I have not heard anything poignant enough from any hip hop artist (mostly from Cameroon) that would get my attention, and say what I feel about what is going on right now in the north of Cameroon. I recently received lots of rap songs, but none of them talked about anything real. It was mostly about having fun, being rich and fucking girls. So now I have to ask myself what happened to our engaged rappers like Boudor or Ak Sang Grave. Can’t they take this opportunity to speak to my soul, better yet, to speak to the soldiers who are dying so these very same rappers can rap? I want taggers to take an entire wall on the street and dedicate it to the victims of Boko Haram. Many of the soldiers today are from the hip hop generation; they understand it and would appreciate it. It would show them that we are together. It will show them that we appreciate them.
I am expecting hip hop to salute them, because isn’t it what hip hop does? Doesn’t hip hop act as a way to convey truth and realities to a broader audience? Doesn’t hip hop take negative energy and channel it into something beautiful? Doesn’t hip hop have the ability to empower and inspire people?