Amnesty International has named world-renowned musician Angelique Kidjo as winner of its prestigious Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2016 for her active role in advocating for human rights.
She has been a prominent campaigner for freedom of expression and for the education of girls in Africa, as well as against female genital mutilation through her music.
“I have always tried to use my voice – singing and spoken – to fight injustice and inequality. Amnesty International’s work throughout the years has been so courageous and extraordinary that receiving the Ambassador of Conscience Award is intimidating to me! The award will energize me to stay outspoken about the crucial human rights issues of our time,” Kidjo said.
Kidjo will be honoured at a ceremony, alongside three other youth activist movements on May 28 in Dakar, Senegal.
The three groups are Y’en a Marre from Senegal, le Balai Citoyen from Burkina Faso and Lutte pour le Changement (LUCHA) from DRC who have proved themselves to be bold advocates for human rights, using their talents to inspire others and further the cause of human rights.
Y’en a Marre (Fed Up) is a group of Senegalese rappers and journalists who joined forces in January 2011 to encourage young people to register to vote in the country’s election and exercise their right to freedom of expression.
Le Balai Citoyen (The Citizen’s Broom) is a political grassroots movement committed to peaceful protest and was co-founded in 2013 by two musicians, reggae artist Sams’K Le Jah and rapper Smockey. It has voiced concerns about a range of issues, from land grabs to power cuts, and mobilized people to claim their rights and fight impunity.
“Le Balai Citoyen is honored to receive this award. To all those who have placed their trust in us and who have read through our acts the commitment to fight against injustice: we want to reaffirm that our convictions remain as strong and safe as our dreams which underlie them,” said Smockey.
LUCHA is a 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.
“We are perfectly happy and deeply humbled to welcome this prestigious award. It is the recognition of our commitment, and a great encouragement to keep up our non-violent fight for social justice and democracy in our country,” said Juvin Kombi, one of LUCHA’s members.
Previous awards have gone to Vaclav Havel, Nelson Mandela, and Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as Bono, Joan Baez, and Ai Wei Wei.