Gambian rapper ST is set to use his status to push the climate movement in the country to new heights. The Brikama-born musician, whose real name is Sanna Singhateh has this week unveiled plans to launch an annual award on environmental protection, starting next year – 2022.
“Fighting climate change requires collective efforts and I am happy to use my voice and platform to raise awareness and call for action on the need to protect our environment,” said ST, who also goes by the stage name Da Gambian Dream or Brikama Boyo.
The multiple award-winning rapper is celebrated not just for his music but also his philanthropic interventions carried out through his charity, ST Foundation. His assistance cuts across different sectors though emphasis is placed on education where he pays tuition for needy students and fund-raises for schools to be able to provide basic needs such as toilets and classroom furniture.
The singer has donated at least 200 bags of rice to help needy households during Covid-19 while partnering with the government and Unicef to produce messages on preventing the pandemic.
“Our charitable work is changing lives,” said Alieu Sowe, coordinator of the ST Foundation. “An example is the tuition we paid for Gambia College students. More than ten of them have since collected their certificates and are teaching kids in the communities.”
Climate change is believed to be having negative impacts on the environment and people in The Gambia in various ways such as erratic rainfall and flash floods while rendering people homeless.
“We continue to lose our forest cover at a very alarming rate,” said Alieu. “Engaging young people at an early age will help inculcate the sense of responsible forestry and environmental management in our children to become positive actors in the fight against climate change.”
Alieu is hoping that ST’s involvement in environmental activism will inject dynamism and innovation into the movement against climate change in the country.
Climate activist Maimuna Jabbi of GreenUp Gambia, an environmental movement shares similar optimism. She believes that the influence of ST is needed to propel the climate change agenda.
“Climate change affects everyone, so we need such grassroots initiatives that encourage more climate action,” she said.
Meanwhile, the announcement made by the Foundation indicated that an independent board will be set up to put together the Award. It will recognise individuals and organisations for their role in environmental protection.
Besides the annual award, which will be held at a special event, the Foundation will work with organisations and communities to grow trees especially the endangered tree species. Periodic video challenges will be conducted where people all over the world will plant trees and share their experiences in the planting of trees.
“This initiative will help restore the lost forest cover, create employment and revenue for communities and rally our fans and followers to take ownership of their environment and protect it,” said Alieu.
Tackling climate change in songs
ST is renowned for his lyrics that address wide range of socio-cultural and economic challenges facing the society. In his latest album, he dedicated the My People song to relate issues of corruption, high cost of living, among others. One of his songs features Senegalese born music icon Baaba Maal.
The rapper gave a hint of his concern over environment degradation when he daringly criticised the activities of the controversial Chinese fishmeal factories in his song Fuwareyaa.
“Through this [environmental award] initiative, ST will continue to use his platforms and influence to advocate for the protection of the environment,” the Foundation announced in its statement.
Already, the rapper has signed a deal with the Outlaw Ocean Project to produce songs highlighting human rights concerns in the Gambian seas.
“Rest assured that environmental protection will be a central theme of ST in the upcoming album, which will be launched next year, and going forward,” Alieu assured.