Africa is the second largest continent in the world with a population of 1.0billion people and a total number of 54 sovereign states ‘countries’. Is it me or is Hip hop not playing a major role in terms of bridging gaps between all the geo-political zones in the continent.
Hence, giving birth to what I call the ‘United States of Africa’. As I write this article, I am seated at a windy balcony listening to ‘All In’ by Camp Mulla featuring Manifest and ‘African & Proud’ by Banky W featuring L-Tido, Camp Mulla, Vector and Sarkodie.
For me, it spells out one thing and that’s ‘Unity’. I am glad to see a lot of cross-border collaborations within the continent. If you have been a long time follower of my music, you will recall that I released a song with a similar concept, titled ‘Raw African Poetry’ which featured various rappers from Zimbabwe, Zambia and Kenya.
The track was even mentioned in SA’s number one Hiphop magazine, HYPE. I am presently working on a reloaded version of that song by the way. If African artists keep chunning out collabs like that, perhaps someday you might bump in to Nigerians in diaspora speaking Swahili eloquently and also find Kenyans conversing in Pidgin. It is our duty to embrace and nurture our different cultures.
Hip hop shouldn’t be the only music genre saddled with the responsibility of uniting Africa. What about Pop, Jazz, Reggae, RnB, Afrobeat or Kwaito? Won’t it be awesome to hear Asa and Freshly Ground on one song? Or imagine Femi Kuti teaming up with Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I am sure there is a newer generation of music lovers that crave a breath of fresh air in the kind of songs they listen to. Apparently, the African music industry is fast evolving and this is evident in the way most record companies operate these days.
For instance, Kenyan-based record label Taurus Musik has Zambia’s award-winning group, Zone Fam, under its stable. To further illustrate my point; Kenyan songstress, Victoria Kimani is signed to Chocolate City Music (Nigeria). Distance is no longer a barrier, especially when A&Rs are dealing with pure talents. Label executives now go all out! So it is seemingly possible that I could get signed by Sony Music Africa someday’you never know!’
Late Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikpolakpo Kuti once said ‘Music is a weapon’. Senegaleese singer Youssou N’Dour knew he held this power in his hands and decided to organise a concert for the release of Nelson Mandela in 1985. N’Dour also discovered Somali rapper, K’Naan during a speaking engagement before the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 1999, where K’naan performed a spoken word piece criticizing the UN for its failed aid missions to Somalia. N’Dour’s goodwill was not only restricted to his home country, but was felt in other parts of the continent.
He believed in the ‘United States of Africa’. I was interviewed on a radio station in Malawi a while back, where I extensively talked about ‘Unity in Africa’ and the need to produce more African Hip hop TV shows. The media can serve as a catalyst in the process of bridging gaps. Don’t you think it will be better if the next BET cypher in Africa features different African rappers under one umbrella? Just a thought! The world is looking at the motherland for inspiration. Viva Africa!