Slam poetry, a form of urban spoken word poetry, rhythmically recited in a public place, is a powerful artistic expression, yet not easily accessible to women.
“Slammigration” was developed through a joint effort involving more than fifty mostly Senegalese artists — slammers, musicians, dancers, visual artists and rappers — who rallied around the “Women and Migration” initiative. Launched in February 2019, the initiative fostered the creation of spaces for dialogue through radio broadcasts, concerts, caravans and social mobilizations for the various actors of civil society, artists, community members, journalists, and returnees in Senegal. The first composition of the slam texts was produced by the Slam O'féminin collective composed of 14 young female slammers from Senegal, Gabon and Congo.
This series of initiatives was designed to put women's voices at the centre of the debate on migration in Senegal. Read more in this IOM Medium article.
Female migrant returnees shared their testimonies and inspired the artists throughout the creative process. This process not only encourages artists’ involvement but gives space for female returnees’ voices and helps to establish human connections and solidarity between women belonging to two generations, reaching an audience on the basis of a common cause. - Marilena Crosato, Community Engagement Officer, IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa
The Slammigration song book (in French) takes readers on a journey where dreams and memories mingle, through six themes including Hope (Yaakar), Desperation (jaaxle), Irregular Migration: Impact on Family (Tukki bu jaarul yoon), Living Witness (Ni ko dund), Return and Reintegration (Dellusi bokaat), and Heroine (Jambaar).
The song book was released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Senegal has released “Slammigration” to mark International Women’s Day in 2020.
The co-creation process is valuable because it brings artists and collaborators together to make something new. This process can be inclusive and empowering and lead to approaches and tools that can be replicated.
Including returned migrants in the creative process proved to be a positive opportunity for them to share their stories and see their experiences reflected back by the artists.
Working with artists and collaborators from different background and disciplines (music, dance, visual art, performance, returnees, media…) is a strong catalyzer. This diversity of skills helps increase community mobilization and generate content that can connect emotionally with different audiences and spark intergenerational dialogue.
Going beyond one-off live performances to invest in recording the slam songs and create the song book allowed the content to live on and reach more people.
Through live performance in public spaces, women - usually associated with traditional roles - were perceived by the audience as people who are knowledgeable about topics such as migration, education, politics, art etc...
Traditional cultural knowledge transmission can strengthen intergenerational bonds between youth and elders.
International days and campaigns, such as International Women's Day, can be leveraged to mobilize civil society and media to amplify creative content.
Slammigration was produced under the Aware Migrants project funded by the Italian Ministry of the Interior and implemented by IOM.