Rappers involve Malian youth in the news

70% of the population in Mali is under 35 years old. Yet in the media you see very few of the themes that concern young people. The rap-news from our partner Kunafoni is changing that: young rappers deliver the news in a way that engages Malian youth.

It is not strange that many young people in Mali are pessimistic about their future perspectives. Youth unemployment is high, the country has one of the highest percentages of child marriages in the world and the north of the country is suffering under extremist violence. Disadvantaged young people are an easy target for radicalisation by the fighting groups.

Realising goals

Journalist Togola Hawa Séméga wrote independent articles about the situation in her country, but she was unable to reach the youth with them. During a trip to the United States, she became inspired by the rapping weatherman: that could be a good concept for involving Malian youth in the news.

‘The future of Mali is in the hands of the youth, but an increasing number of young Malians want to leave the country,’ says Séméga. ‘They feel they have no opportunities and that they have no voice. With Kunafoni WebTV I want to show young people that they can innovate, create, dream, but even better: that they can actually realise their dreams.’

Free Press Unlimited believed in Séméga’s plan. Together, we worked out a distinctive format: unlike other rap-news in West Africa, Kunafoni WebTV had to be based on objective news. Free Press Unlimited trained a team from Kunafoni, that now has five rappers, three video journalists and a beatmaker, in journalistic techniques like rebuttal and storytelling.

Presidential elections on the beat

Young people are now served online news bulletins by Kunafoni Rappou on a weekly basis where, instead of seated grey suits, young rappers stand behind the semi-circular talk show table. Accompanied by a rousing beat, they talk about hot issues in their country. The presidential elections in 2018, for instance, were widely discussed. The video journalists of Kunafoni interviewed young Malians at demonstrations for the opposition and the rappers reported the official results and allegations of fraud.

An increasing number of Malians are getting hooked on the creative mix of journalism, rap and humour of Kunafoni. The number of followers on Facebook has grown since March 2018 from 26,500 to almost 40,000. In 2018, Kunafoni was rewarded with a second place in Le Prix francophone de l’innovation dans les médias, a prize for innovative media formats in the French speaking world. Last year, the bulletins also made their debut on Malian television: twice a week, Renouveau TV broadcasts the rap-news. To make the rapping newsreaders even more well-known to Malian youth, Kunafoni is going on tour with live performances throughout the country in the coming year.

Since: 2016
Donor: Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Contribution: € 66,100

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