THE BALLAD OF AFRICA
BBC WORLD SERVICE RADIO
OCTOBER 9 + 11, 2010
(between 0300 GMT 9.10.10 and 0600 GMT 11.10.10)
In a specially commissioned programme marking the 50th anniversary of the independence of many African countries, this extraordinary self-narrating Ballad explores through words and music issues that have dominated African mindsets for the past half-century.
These include post-colonial development and self-rule, building an African future based on economic growth and political stability; overcoming apartheid, rebuilding after genocide and aiming for self-sufficiency.
But one theme running throughout the programme is of independence and freedom, with some contributors wondering whether Africa really IS free, despite half a century of independence.
Music is the irrepressible common bond, the heartbeat that unites all African nations, and ‘The Ballad of Africa’ offers real insight into their thinking, and their hopes and aspirations for the future.
The music comes from outspoken Malian singers Ali Farka Toure and Oumou Sangare and Benin’s Angelique Kidjo with specially commissioned performances by Cameroonian singer and guitarist Muntu Valdo and Rwandan inanga player Sophie Nzayisanga.
Throughout the Ballad, Africans discuss their lives, history and thoughts on the future despite the negative chapters in the continent’s recent history.
The Ballad considers Africa’s progress since independence from European powers, and what resources the continent needs to flourish for the next fifty years. In a continent rich with minerals and astonishing human resources, one speaker sums up Africa’s post-colonial history of coups, natural disasters and bad leaders as ‘a struggle in paradise’ but stresses that Africa needs to become stable to be a driving force for the world.
Produced by Kellie While and Vince Hunt for BBC World Service