Today’s Solutions: April 19, 2024

Two decades after Nelson Mandela’s legendary 46664 concerts, a new movement, Move Afrika, developed on the African continent. Inspired by Mandela’s vision, his grandson Kweku Mandela launched this five-year project to create an annual music tour to promote Africa’s artistic environment while tackling bigger socioeconomic issues. What was Kweku Mandela’s ambition? Everything that can be done to “[promote] health and equity, [defend] our planet, and [create] jobs and economic opportunity.”

Shaping the musical landscape of Africa

Kendrick Lamar, the Grammy Award-winning singer, lit up the stage at Move Afrika’s debut performance at Kigali’s BK Arena on December 6, 2023. As Global Citizen‘s chief vision officer, Mandela stressed the significance of this achievement, saying, “We are putting a marker in the sand around live touring events and showcasing the creative economy on the African continent.”

The event featured renowned East African singers such as Bruce Melodie and Zuchu, highlighting the vast and vibrant musical diversity of the region. Notably, the stage design was a tribute to local ingenuity, created by the Rwandan NGO Nyamirambo Women’s Center by fusing traditional aesthetics with contemporary flair.

The musical renaissance in Africa

Africa’s musical history, which includes giants such as Miriam Makeba and Fela Kuti, has now entered a new period. Mandela stressed the rise of a new generation of African musicians, saying, “It’s so essential that they have a live tour event playing as part of that.” African music, which was once labeled generically as ‘world music,’ has evolved into various genres that have become interwoven into worldwide popular culture.

Global outlets such as MTV and the Grammys, which have specialized categories for Afrobeats and African performers, highlight the seismic change in recognizing African musical prowess.

Local artistry with worldwide appeal

The significance of this event was not lost on the local artists. Bruce Melodie, reflecting on the night, expressed his elation: “It’s a great opportunity for me as a local artist being here.” His partnership with Shaggy on “When She’s Around” exemplifies the growing global appeal of African music, notably Afrobeats.

Melodie emphasized the government’s support for the conducive climate for music in Rwanda. Sherrie Silver, an award-winning choreographer, expressed this sentiment, highlighting the importance of Africa actively participating in and benefiting from its vibrant entertainment sector.

Beyond entertainment: economic empowerment and social impact

Move Afrika’s ticket distribution approach, in which 30 percent of tickets were sold and the remainder were acquired by community initiatives such as tree planting and volunteering, highlights the organization’s greater objective. Hugh Evans, co-founder of Global Citizen, underlined the importance of investing in Africa’s domestic entertainment and creative economy to create jobs and empower local artists.

Creating a path forward

Kweku Mandela sees the shift from altruism to genuine cooperation and investment as evidence of Africa’s changing narrative. He stressed young Africans’ need to be viewed as partners seeking true investment and empowerment.

Move Afrika is about more than simply music; it is a communal movement aimed at changing attitudes, fostering collaboration, and paving the road for Africa’s expanding creative economy to onto the world arena. As Mandela aptly concluded, “We are moving past the idea of just philanthropy. What young Africans are really asking for is genuine authentic partnership and real investment.”

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