Music plays a critical role in societies and continues to serve as a mode of communication across the globe. Traditional drums, chanting of war songs, celebration songs, the rite of marriage music, songs of sorrows and slave trade-related songs that express feelings and emotions that communicates to the soul and appeals to the epicenter of the listener as the African sound permeates vital African heritage in a smoothening way. African music is, in itself, healing and enriching with a universal bond across the globe. Although the tunes, musical styles and rhythms vary, there are a number of common elements that run through music from different parts of Africa. Music in Africa is more than just a song or instruments, it is a communication tool, therapeutic element and above all an element of integration. This serves a greater purpose of a shared value system in the continent.
In recent times, African music has taken a different dimension and gained global interest, it has grown in leaps and bounds through digital technology. Global superstar Beyoncé engrossed in African music recently championed her latest album, the Lion King soundtrack. Some of Africa’s biggest stars were handpicked, they include Nigeria’s Burna Boy, Wizkid, Ghana’s Shatta Wale among others, this collaboration in no doubt will serve as a big boost in their careers. The move by the US singer Beyoncé is clear evidence that the love for Africa beat – music in general- is deep.
Aside from this major move in Africa music, the new trends of digital technology and collaborations have improved economic settings of the society. In South Africa, Price Water House Coopers Entertainment and Media Outlook estimated that the music industry will grow to 4.4% which is US$178 million by 2020. Nigeria remains the ever-growing market with a total of 15.7% reaching US$3.8 billion. This is similar to Kenya and Ghana’s music revenue. Economically the African music industry is contributing significantly to the Gross Domestic Product. African music although in different languages and tunes serve a music hungry population of, roughly, 500 million individuals. But most importantly it serves as an ambassador for integration in the continent.
Various musical awards are held at national level across African countries. Major showcase awards comprise of All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA), MTV Africa Music Awards among other awards. One of Africa’s biggest award event and platform that uses Africa music as a tool for integration in the region is AFRIMA. AFRIMA in collaboration with Africa Union celebrates and recognizes creativity, talent and African music while preserving and promoting African culture. It further ensures a stronger, united, peaceful and prosperous Africa through music bringing artists from every part of Africa. A symbol of peace and integration. Another classic example of music integration, is the “We are one Africa” song by Davido, Tiwa Savage, Sarkodie and Lola Rae the song encourages and spells African solidarity and unity.
Music in Africa has grown bigger spreading its wings into various aspects. It is used as a tool in politics, to push democracy, fight against corruption and promote peace and tranquility. In Uganda, musician Bobbi Wine rode on the wings of his catchy beats of Afropop and musical instrument to fight against corruption. This led him to the seat of parliament from the benches of the studio to the house of parliament. This clearly shows the vital role music plays in all aspect of human interaction and society. Jingles were widely used in Zimbabwe political circles especially during campaign periods.
While African music is playing a critical impact in the political sphere, it is also has a string connected to humanitarian activities. Many African artists due to their songs and impacts are elected as ambassadors and peace advocates. Their songs speak of humanity, peace and unity as a continent. Rocky Dawuni, an international music star who has toured the boundaries of the Caribbean, UK, Africa and the US with his cultural invested music was named regional UN Goodwill Ambassador for Africa, Prince Ndedi Eyango was elected as UNFPA International ambassador for women and children, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, popularly known as “Princess of Africa”, the South African singer was appointed special ambassador on malaria for Southern and Eastern Africa. Dr Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukudzi has been a brand ambassador across Southern Africa. Angelique Kidjo, West African songwriter since 25 July 2002 has been International UNICEF ambassador of goodwill and many others. They all attained these honourable roles because of the music and the impacts it creates locally, regionally and globally
On the tourism fronts, African Music promotes tourism through music festivals which include Afro Nation, Lake of Stars, Sauti za Busara, Bush fire, Felebration, Nyege Nyege festival, MTV Africa Music Awards, just to mention but a few. These events bring together different stars to one stage to exhibit their talents and entertain audiences. On the other hand, these events generate a lot of media both regionally and international scene.
which attracts tourists from near and far, bringing economic impact into the country. A classic example is the Cape Town Jazz festival, one of South Africa’s largest music festival which is held over two days. Although the festival focuses on Jazz it also pays attention to other genres from other parts of Africa.
It is undisputedly known that African music also has diverse challenges the industry faces. In this 21st century, digitalization of music is the way to go, however, African artists are yet to deal with the downside of it. Rampant piracy and the lack of formal tracking of African music, weak intellectual property law guiding the hard work of our musicians remains the obstacles faced by many. Music bodies and organizations are relentlessly working hard to come up with substantial policies, albeit slow progress to date.
African music with all its different genres and forms command integration in different fronts politically, economically, socially and humanitarian which pushes the continent far. Simply put the United State of Africa is already a reality through our music which reaches to millions of people on the globe celebrating our love, connection to heritage and culture and above all the peace and integration of mother Africa this is evidently seen in our mixed lyrics, sounds and languages from various parts of Africa.
Article from AFRIC Editorial
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