By Omar Bah
Elections are pivotal to the quality of a country’s governance and can either greatly advance or set back long-term democratic development.
The most fundamental principle defining credible elections is that they must reflect the free expression of the will of the people.
To achieve this, Gambian Civil Society Organisation, Team Gom Sa Bopa (TGSB) is prepared to use music to ensure that the country’s December election is transparent, inclusive, and accountable, and equitable opportunities to compete in the election.
In designing and prioritizing its intervention for credible elections, Team Gom Sa Bopa is organizing musical competitions where the importance of a peaceful, credible and transparent electoral process will be discussed.
The competition, which is expected to attract hundreds of young people, will be contested between 16 Gambian rappers who qualified for the second round of the 2021 Cypher Rap.
Addressing journalists at a news conference recently, Team Gom Sa Bopa president, Ali “Killa Ace” Cham said the Cypher Rap contest will offer young Gambian rappers the opportunity to showcase their talent and give the activists the opportunity to use the event to advocate for peaceful and transparent elections.
Killa Ace, who is a household name in the Gambia for using his music to fight against dictatorship, said the platform will also be used to advocate for youth participation in the elections and to sensitise them on how to contribute towards national development through non-violent means.
“The Cypher contest was initiated in July 2012 to showcase young talents from various localities and give disenfranchised young people the opportunity to showcase their talent,” Cham said.
The auditioning of the contest was held in Teranga last June with 28 artists competing, which was later cut down to 16 rappers who will now go for the second, third and final rounds.
Mr Cham further highlighted that his organisation “is a signatory to the Platform Urban which covers Gambia, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali and Morocco.
“Artists who qualify amongst the finalists will be part of the exchange program of festivals and activities around those countries as well,” he said.
He said the top three rappers will share the D100, 000 cash put forward by the organisers.
“The winner will get D50,000, runnerup– D30,000 and the person who took 3rd position will go home with D20,000. All three finalists will receive additional incentives,” he said.
A balloting was done in the presence of journalists.
Cham, who extended gratitude to all those who supported the competition, said his organisation is barely doing everything on its own to ensure that the event is successful.
Team Gomsa Bopa spokesperson, Mariama Bojang said the organisation “is a youth-led national initiative dedicated to raising awareness among youth through art performance. We engage artists to play a role in social life, civic education and to be watchdogs of the management of the country”.