Singer Déesse Major was arrested and released after three days of detention on indecency and assault on morality charges brought on by complaints of the artist wearing provocative clothes, reported French global radio RFI on 22 June 2016.
Troubles for the singer began in October 2014 when Adama Mboup, president of the Senegalese Committee for the Defence of Moral Values (CDVM), filed a complaint against her for being indecently dressed at a concert and for exhibiting behaviour “contrary to good manners”, reported Seneweb on 17 June 2016.
At the time the singer apologised for the actions, but CDVM re-issued the complaint as they state that she continued to wear “sexy outfits” in public, thus “undermining morality”. A court summoned the singer and after the hearing, she was arrested and detained.
Mboup eventually decided to withdraw the re-issued complaint on 19 June 2016 saying that the “media coverage was adequate” and that the arrest sent a “strong signal”.
Déesse Major was advised by a judge to be more aware of her outfits, but has said she will continue to perform her music in her way: “They want to educate me like I was a kid … I am an artist; I must have my freedom – it means to dress as I think or speak as I think.”
Conservativism on the rise in West Africa
In a troubling trend quickly unfolding across West Africa, several countries in just the last year have targeted artists, banning their songs, music videos and concerts, on indecency and moral grounds.
In Ghana, in June 2016, the musician union has called on musicians to refrain from using profane and obscene lyrics in their songs.
Also in June 2016, in Gambia, state police banned music, drumming and dance for any festivity, day or night, during Ramadan.
In Nigeria, in May 2016, rapper Olamide has had a fourth of his songs recently banned in less than a year by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission for “obscenity, being indecent, [and having] vulgar languages, lewd and profane expressions”. In August 2015, the commission released a list of 18 “inappropriate” songs that were banned.
Niger, in February 2016, denied Cameroonian singer Franko an entry visa into the country to perform in a concert in Niamey on moral grounds due to his current hit ‘Coller la petite’, saying it “violates the customs of the country”.
Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the continent in Tanzania, in May 2016, singer Snura Mushi not only had her latest video banned due to “immorality”, but she is also banned from performing until the video is edited. Further, any public citizen caught sharing or distributing the video will be charged under the 2014 Cyber Crime Act.
And in neighbouring Kenya, in February 2016, the film and classification board banned Art Attack’s music video remix of a popular gay rights song on the grounds that “it does not adhere to the morals of the country”.
Photo from artist’s Facebook page
» RFI – 21 June 2016:
Senegal: Singer Déesse Major released
» Dakaractu – 20 June 2016:
Last minute Déesse Major will be released soon
» Seneweb – 17 June 2016:
Exclusive: Singer Déesse Major placed in custody
» Freemuse.org – 17 June 2016:
Ghana: Music union calls for regulation on obscene lyrics
» Freemuse.org – 14 June 2016:
Gambia: Music banned during Ramadan
» Artsfreedom.org – 19 May 2016:
Tanzania: Artist banned from performing due to “immoral” video
» Freemuse.org – 18 May 2016:
Nigeria: Broadcast authority blacklists yet another one of rapper’s songs
» Freemuse.org – 6 April 2016:
Niger: Cameroonian singer denied entry visa to hold concert
» Freemuse.org – 7 March 2016:
Kenya: LGBT music video banned
» Freemuse.org – 25 August 2015:
Nigeria: New list of songs banned by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission