The prestigious Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award was awarded to world-renowned musician Angélique Kidjo and three inspirational African youth activist groups, Y’en a marre from Senegal, Le Balai Citoyen from Burkina Faso and LUCHA from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Every year, the Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award celebrates individuals and groups who speak out for justice. The recipients are people who have used their talents to inspire others to fight for human rights. The award also aims to create debate, encourage public action and raise awareness of human rights issues.
This would add to Angélique’s long list of awards but is one of the most significant as it celebrates her efforts to defend and celebrate human rights for all.
Previous winners of the Ambassador of Conscience Award include the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, Myanmar politician Aung San Suu Kyi, the rock band U2, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and American singer-songwriterJoan Baez.
Angélique fled her homeland in the 1980s after being pressured to perform for the country’s repressive regime and in her 30-year career spawning 12 albums, she has been a prominent campaigner for freedom of expression and against female genital mutilation.
Y’en a marre (Fed Up) is a group of Senegalese rappers and journalists who joined forces in 2011 to encourage young people to register to vote in the country’s election and exercise their right to freedom of expression. They remained active since the election, hosting meetings and urging the new government to implement promised changes such as land reform, a key issue affecting Senegal’s rural poor.
Le Balai Citoyen (The Citizen’s Broom) is a political grassroots movement committed to peaceful protest. It was founded in 2013 by two musicians, reggae artist Sams’K Le Jahand rapper Smockey (Serge Bambara). The group has voiced concerns about a range of issues from corruption and land grabs to power cuts, and it has mobilized people to claim their rights and fight impunity.
LUCHA is another community-based youth movement committed to peaceful protest. It was created in Goma, eastern DRC, in 2012. Its activism focuses on social issues, human rights and the protection of civilians from armed groups. LUCHA advocates for social justice and democratic governance through non-partisan and non-violent actions.
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Michael Kovac