Building Unity Through Music

All together in unity; all together in solidarity. No matter where you come from on this earth, we are all human.
— Lyrics of a song and music video by the group Kasan Matassa ("Country of Youth")

Music plays a central, unifying role in Nigerien society, embodying the diverse cultures that make up the vast desert nation. Anticipating the potential for dissension and political unrest in the 2016 electoral season, a group of talented, PDev II-trained artists decided to use their musical talents and peacebuilding skills to come together and develop a song that would embody the cultural diversity of the country and highlight the important role that peaceful co-existence plays in Nigerien national unity.

The group, Kasan Matassa, “Country of Youth” (Hausa), is composed of eight young men and women from various regions of Niger. They came together in Niamey to compose a song that would remind people of the everyday things in life that make them human. Drawing on their experiences, hopes and dreams for inspiration, they wrote lyrics, developed an instrumental track and recorded the song in studio. The result, “On est Ensemble” or “We are Together,” was released on February 10, 2016 and is a mix of song and poetry performed in four languages: Hausa, Kanuri, Zarma and French.

With an irresistible melody that invites everyone to dance, the song touches on what it means to be together in good times and bad. While the focus is in the context of Niger, the song touches on a much larger idea of humanity. As one of the lyrics states, “All together in unity; all together in solidarity. No matter where you come from on this earth, we are all human.” After recording the song, the group filmed a striking music video that tells an equally beautiful story.

One of their members, Doula Talata Ibrahim Wasilla, is a standout leader herself. In addition to being a talented artist, Wasilla was also the first in her class and an active youth leader with PDev II. She has a strong desire to help other young people so they do not have to go through the same hardships that she did.

She was elected Vice-President for the regional Youth Parliament in her home region of Tillaberi. To be elected to this honorable position required years of hard work, proven academic excellence and exemplary behavior. She thanked PDev II for their leadership trainings which gave her the tools she needed to excel in her elected position. Similar to the goal of “On est Ensemble,” in this role she stated that she hopes to encourage girls to stay in school, promote peace and tolerance and prevent conflict.

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