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  • on 30.01.2012
  • at 03:47 PM
  • by Randa Ghazy

Pan-African hip-hop collaboration: beats with no borders 0

As 2011 entered its twilight, African youth from different nations came together in South Africa to collaborate in music productions they hope will spur economic and social development.

They spent much of December recording. They produced inspiring songs, some of which are in a new continental language they called “Tswahili” because of its fusion of East Africa’s Kiswahili and South African Tetswana, alongside other indigenous languages from across Africa.

The project was dubbed “A Dollar a Day” after a phrase used often to describe the people of Africa as poor by the West. The project collaborators want to use the project to counter this view, seeing Africa rich with culture, heritage, and natural resources.

“A Dollar a Day” is a wonderful 18-track album produced by Kenya’s South African based Akili Blaq. The project is co-produced by Kenyan artist and activist Muki Garang, founder of Maisha yetu which is an arts and culture NGO.

This musical project was birthed in the heart of Maftown – the same exact space for the Northwest Hip-Hop movement, Lefoko. The music is in an array of languages, ranging from Sheng (Nairobi slang), Swahili, Zulu, Setswana, Pidgin, Motswako (Setstwana slang), and English.

“We are reaching out to our peers in Africa, using the spoken word and Hip-Hop music,” says the South African Lerato Mosimane, one of the event organizers.

Some of the poetry by the sisters pays tribute to heroines like Professor Wangari Maathai, Miriam Makeba, Graca Machel, and others.

The recording also includes audio interviews with policy makers and stakeholders in the Northwest province of the post-apartheid nation on the use of culture to foster responsible leadership, fight against the spread of HIV, and include youth in political decision-making.

Participants included Mpho ya Badimo (SABC’s Motsweding fm), Lerato Mosimane (Formerly of Bop TV – Jo’Burg), Apu, TLS, and Relevant Source from South Africa; Mpaphi Angell Nthoi and Ngozi Chukura from South Africa; Omadada from Nigeria, Akili Blaq from Kenya; and Bra Sam bass from Zimbabwe.

The exchange program meeting was organized by both Maisha yetu (Kenya) and Platinum Africa Youth Tourism (South Africa). “We educate and engage youth into identifying opportunities linked to our culture and heritage as African people,” said the organizer, Lerato Mosimane, in an interview with Africa Review.

The content in the musical compilation is not isolated to the youth. Rather, it accommodates the wider African society, as it covers topics such themes as love, HIV and Aids, xenophobia, land reform policies in Zimbabwe, and ethnicity in Kenya.

“I like the gender sensitivity in the songs,” remarked Syliva Liabile, the Chair Person of the South African Business coalition on HIV and AIDS, “The artists have addressed issues of women development with great depth and reflection.”

South African artists Mpho Yabadimo and Apu spoke strongly against black-on-black violence in their country, “During apartheid era blacks were not allowed to move freely,” said A.P.U. “We can’t allow these restrictions to continue against African brothers from other nations in a free South Africa.”

The artists are also trying to embrace an older generation that set the pace for the South African struggle. Mosimane explains that “In marking 100 years of the African National Congress’ liberation struggle, we will package the album as a souvenir to revelers who attend an event at the Protea Hotel in Mafikeng city on St. Valentine’s Day.”

“We are reaching out to the rest of Africa to encourage cross-cultural productions that will help artists to learn from one another, following in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela and Prof Wangari Maathai,” she added.

Akili Blaq, the producer of “A Dollar a Day,” says “’A Dollar a Day’ can be interpreted to be music for border hoppers, through music and poetry we paint a picture of the effect these harsh economic times have on African youth.” For him, Blaq says, “My beats have no borders.”

The “A Dollar a Day” album can be downloaded for free from here. To find out further information on “A Dollar a Day,” visit here.

Source: AFRICA the good news

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