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Smarty, The Burkina Faso Rapper Whose Lyrics Became An Anti-Compaore Anthem

"Our sovereign king is ill, let’s pray for him, tragedy eventually comes knocking on the door of the unknown," Burkinabe rapper Smarty says in his track "Le Chapeau du Chef" ("The boss’s hat"), which was released back in 2012. The song, which now sounds almost like a prophetic warning to Burkina Faso’s recently ousted President Blaise Compaoré, has become an anthem for the head of state’s opposition.

The West African country is now currently looking for a way out of the crisis and Smarty’s lyrics also questioned the aftermath of a change of power. "The king is going to die, the village knows that. But what will happen after, even the king hasn’t thought about that," he raps.

Before performing as the opening act for the Ivorian singer Tiken Jah Fakoly in Paris on Tuesday, Smarty moderated his thoughts on the ousted president in an interview with France24 on Monday: "Blaise Compaoré had the greatness of spirit to leave and offer a new way, the way of freedom for Burkina Faso."

"For this transition to work, we need someone who does not have any political calculations," the rapper said, as the opposition handed over a draft of a transition charter to the army, which has ruled the country since Compaoré’s resignation almost 2 weeks ago. "The people have issued a warning to the former power, but also to those that will come," he added.

Smarty told France24 he was "very scared" during the two days of the uprising in late October. But he is now looking towards the future: "Burkina Faso will get through this; we are upright people who know how to take our responsibilities. As soon as the uprising ended, people started sweeping the streets and putting their towns back in order," he says.

Along with Chadian rapper Manwdoé, Smarty used to be the other half of hip hop duo Yeleen expand=1]. The two artists produced five albums together, played around the world for 10 years and won several awards. In his solo career Smarty has also been hugely successful. Considered one of Burkina Faso’s best artists, he released his first album in 2012, Afrikan Kouleurs, centering both on a quality rap and African issues.

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Geopolitics

The Trumpian Virus Undermining Democracy Is Now Spreading Through South America

Taking inspiration from events in the United States over the past four years, rejection of election results and established state institutions is on the rise in Latin America.

Two supporters of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dressed in Brazilian flags during a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Bolsonaro supporters dressed in national colours with flags in a demonstration in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on November 4, 2022.

Ivan Abreu / ZUMA
Carlos Ruckauf*

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — South Africa's Nelson Mandela used to say it was "so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build."

Intolerance toward those who think differently, even inside the same political space, is corroding the bases of representative democracy, which is the only system we know that allows us to live and grow in freedom, in spite of its flaws.

Recent events in South America and elsewhere are precisely alerting us to that danger. The most explosive example was in Brazil, where a crowd of thousands managed to storm key institutional premises like the presidential palace, parliament and the Supreme Court.

In Peru, the country's Marxist (now former) president, Pedro Castillo, sought to use the armed and security forces to shut down parliament and halt the Supreme Court and state prosecutors from investigating corruption allegations against him.

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