Africa has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. Mugabe’s dictatorial leadership, conflicts and massacres in Sudan, famines in Eritrea and Niger, child and human rights violations, poverty and disease struck families, and the list could go on. However, these disturbing stories seem even more tragic when one realizes the battles lost. One would wonder if the Dark Continent would ever see the light of the day if there really is any hope for peace and prosperity to arrive.
African music has influenced the world and has given birth to genres of music including rock, jazz, blues, reggae, dub, etc. However, the heart of African music lies in its ability to express freedom, and protest against injustice. The music teaches us to love and not hate. It teaches us to persist and not give up. Only the downtrodden and the oppressed can crave for love and freedom like no one else can. Militia and Mugabe may give the image of Africa being the land of unimaginable cruelty, but the oppressed of Africa find their soul in music. Music allows them to achieve a temporary state of liberation, which may otherwise not have been possible.
Sometimes, music may result in political and social revolutions too. Bob Marley’s ‘Get up, Stand up’ is an inspiring poem that has been the anthem of an entire generation. The words in this simple song have inspired many not only in Marley’s home country of Jamaica, but in his ancestral continent Africa too. The song encouraged millions in Africa to stand up and has been an anthem for the oppressed. It continues to inspire people and nations in not only Africa but also all across the globe.
Africa‘s homegrown musicians such as Baba Maal, the Senegalese stalwart and others continue to inspire musicians all over. Ali Farka Toure, Rabih Abou Khalil, and even Tracy Chapman have black ancestry that gives a colour to not only their skin, but also their music. A colour that speaks of strength, beauty and resilience. These are the qualities that are reflected in African and African inspired music all over the world. Afro origin musicians have been the best at creating jazz at its best.
Africa may be a land of resources, but the resource that many connect to is its people’s undeniable talent in music, which connects souls across the globe, regardless of the colour of the skin. Once a friend said, “Music is in their Bones,” and one couldn’t deny that. One must wish and hope for Africa’s healing, and that shall surely be in the way of beautiful music, for the continent has suffered for too long.