Bangui : War, poverty, no Internet : The trials of a C.Africa rapper : Clad in a fluorescent high-top sneakers, Cool Fawa grabs the microphone and fires up the audience.

The rapper and hip-hop singer launches confidently into her best-known song, ''Valide'' [''Validated''], and the swaying crowd sings to the chorus. Her gig is a bar in Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic - arguably one of the toughest countries in the world for a female rapper to seek stardom.

In the music business, talent is drawn to mega-cities in wealthy countries and would-be stars use the Internet to pitch their songs and videos.

By that metric, the CAR does not even register on the scale.

Remote and landlocked, the country has been torn by civil war for more than nine years. Its people are among the poorest on the planet. Only 10 percent of the population of some five million have access to the Internet.

Such problems do not deter Cool Fawa, meaning ''Cool Girl''. A music professional since 2012 and aged 27 today, she has more than 4,500 followers on Instagram and notch up more than 50,000 views on YouTube for her 2018 hit ''On va se marrier'' [''We're Gonna Get Married''].

Such figures are of course tiny compared with the followings of Adele, Beyonce or Taylor Swift - but in the context of the CAR,they amount to big recognition.

''I love her music. It gives me hope of succeeding one day,'' said a 16-year-old girl at the bar in Bangui.

''Cool Fawa, she rocks,'' exclaimed a young man. Cool Fawa - real name Princia Plisson - sings mainly in the former colonial tongue French, with touches of national language. Sango and English.

When she first envisaged a musical future in 2010, the CAR was devoid of local women stars. ''I was fan of Diam's,'' said Cool Fawa, referring to the French rapper, Melanie Georgiades, who shot to fame with a debut album, ''Brut de Femme'', that ventured boldly into male territory.

Determined to follow suit, the teenager became the only women in an all-male revolutionary rap group. MC Fonctionnaire, whose song attacked poverty and inequality.

''At first they didn't take me seriously but they ended up accepting me,'' she said.

The World Students Society thanks The Nation, and AGENCIES, Bangui.


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