Brand SA celebrated Africa Day on Monday with a unique initiative designed to encourage and promote African unity.
The initiative, called Play Your Part – “Africa Unite”, was spearheaded by the launch of a new ensemble song, written and produced to celebrate the diversity of Africanism in all of its many facets, especially in language and the arts. The song also features the tagline “unity in action”.
According to Brand SA, the aim of the song was to highlight and foster African unity, and features a number of languages spoken on the continent, including Swahili, Lingala, Zulu, isiXhosa, seTswana, English, Afrikaans, Shona and French. This multi-lingual approach is inspired by the bold, vibrant, and resilient African spirit, which has once again come to the fore during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“No one could have foreseen the magnitude of the health, social and economic challenges we would have to face in 2020,” said acting CEO of Brand SA, Thulisile Manzini in a statement.
“In February, when South Africa was elected Chair of the African Union for the year, there was hardly a hint of the storm that was to come. In fact, we anticipated a very positive year in which we could devote the considerable energies of the AU and its members to the task of advancing the continent’s 2063 development strategy.
“Covid-19 has put that on the back burner, but it’s highlighted the way in which Africans pull together in the face of adversity and support one another through the most difficult of times,” she added.
The song, which is inspired by this unique African world view, features leading South African artists including DJ Maphorisa, Kabza De Small, Ricky Rick, Rouge Rapper, Youngsta CPT, Dee Koala and Shasha from Zimbabwe, as well as Tresor, who hails from the DRC.
The lyrics are a clarion call to Africa’s large youth population to stand firm in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and to #PlayYourPart in halting its advance.
It begins by calling on young people to heed the call to stay home and adopt recommended measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including regular hand washing, the wearing of face masks in public places, and social distancing. But also embedded within this is a message that reflects the triumphant African spirit: “It’s me and you together; we shall overcome.”
Pan African rapper Rouge is one of the artists who features on the song with a verse that pays homage to her Congolese roots. When asked why she had chosen French for her verse, Rouge explained to the Citizen that she had done an about-turn on her previous decision to strictly use English in her rap verses.
“It’s time get a lot more comfortable with my home language and my heritage. It’s a whole market that I have the opportunity to engage.”
When asked how else she will be celebrating Africa Day in a time of coronavirus and social distancing, Rouge shared that food will form a major part of how she chooses to celebrate.
“More than anything will be celebrating my Congolese side, through foods like, pondu and shikwang, and it doesn’t hurt to play African music all week either… Just cause I’m home doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate my continent.”
“We want Africa’s people – and its young people in particular – to feel supported and uplifted by the spirit of ubuntu (African unity) in this song,” added Manzini.
“And, as importantly, we want them to know that our culture of watching out for one another is really paying off.”
Apart from the Oceanic region, which includes Australia, New Zealand and four Polynesian islands, Africa currently has the lowest Covid-19 infection rate in the world, with just fewer than 100,000 infections.
This compares to over 1,8 million in Europe, over 1,7 million in North America, just below 865,000 in Asia, and just above 500,000 in South America as of 21 May 2020.
“Africa may be facing many challenges, but its young, energetic population has the power to harness its cultural heritage and create exactly what we’re aiming for: the Africa we want. In a similar way, we at Brand South Africa are harnessing the continent’s creative talent to demonstrate once again the subtle – and practical – power of unity.”
Play Your Part – Africa Unite is available for streaming and downloads on all major platforms including Apple Music, Deezer and Spotify from Monday.
Proceeds from streaming and downloads of the song will go toward the Solidarity Response Fund.
Watch the video below:
On Saturday, 30 May Brand South Africa, in collaboration with the department of arts and culture, Bassline and its stakeholders will be hosting a live-streaming Africa Day celebration on YouTube.
The event, which will feature a collaborative song by a number of African musicians, will honour a united Africa that is committed to the fight against the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic through artistic activism.