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Last Updated: Friday, 15 October, 2004, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Can musicians save Africa?
Musicians going through the paces in Senegal
What role can musicians play in development?
Some of Africa's most famous musicians are launching a continental song to help fight poverty and HIV/Aids.

The song - We are the drums - is part of an initiative by the United Nations to accelerate the achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the year 2015.

Senegalese singer and UNDP Youth Emissary, Baaba Maal says, "for once we're doing something together to make our work as artists much more noble".

The BBC's Africa Live programme asks: Do you think musicians can help alleviate Africa's poverty? Can they stop the spread of HIV/Aids?

What are musicians in your country up to? Do they make good role models or are they a bad influence on society?

Let us know your views by using the form on the right and join the debate on BBC's Africa Live Wednesday, 20 October at 1630 & 1830 GMT.

If you would like to take part in the discussion, include with your telephone number, which will not be published.


This debate has just been published. Read a selection of your comments below.

I believe musicians alone can't save Africa. There are some Africans who prefer other music to their own. Sadly, some try very hard to hide their identity. With such attitudes, how can Africa be saved? Let us be proud of who we are and what we have. God bless Africa and God bless Liberia!
Roland S. Weah, Liberian in US

African musicians have encouraged development in their continent. Music in Africa raises awareness, eg, the Dinka people from Southern Sudan or Monyjaak have songs which convey different things. Africans learn many things from proverbs and idioms. I hope people remember Bob Marley songs which have helped Africa fight colonialism and discrimination. Music cannot eradicate poverty, but it can send very strong messages about reducing the spread of HIV and AIDS.
Michael Nuul Mayen, Manitoba, Sudanese in Canada

When you listen to a musician about a particular plight that you are suffering from, you get a sense of not being alone in your problem. This makes you more optimistic. When I listen to Nigerian musicians like Lagbaja, I always feel that things will get better.
Sade, U.S.A

Throughout Africa, music is considered a legitimate and effective way to get one's message across.
Douglas Mpondi, Zimbabwean in US
African musicians like Fela Kuti, Thomas Mapfumo, Bob Marley and Lucky Dube have helped to liberate Africa. Musicians can also help in fighting the predicament of HIV/AIDS and poverty that have ravaged our beloved continent. African music is in touch with the problems of daily life and contributes to the development of a new social order. In Zimbabwe, Oliver Mutukudzi's song 'Todii?' (what shall we do?) talks about HIV/AIDS and urges people to prevent the scourge by changing their attitudes and eradicating the stigma associated with the disease. There are a lot of musicians in Zimbabwe who have died of HIV/AIDS and it is inspiring that musicians are the ones who are openly talking about the disease, when politicians would rather not. Thomas Map-fumo has talked about the issue of poverty in his song "Corruption" and how politicians have become "Swiss bank nationalists" whilst the masses are starving. I believe that African musicians will always have an audience.
Douglas Mpondi, Zimbabwean in US

Music is a special ingredient in the life of every African because it creates awareness, serves as a channel for passing information and preserves our culture and tradition. Music, however, has limited usefulness in curbing poverty and reducing HIV/AIDS. Realistically, no amount of music made in Africa can bring back the billions of dollars stashed away in European banks by our thieving leaders.
Chinedu Ibeabuchi, Lagos, Nigeria

African musicians can be role models, if African values and traditions are at the core of their songs. African musicians have thrown the respect for morality out of the window. Half-naked singers are common on African television which encourages immorality among youth. In Kenya, television is the source of erosion of African values by mixing African music with sex in broad daylight.
Yussuf Dayib, Nairobi, Kenya

I think Africa can use all the help it can get. The continent is plagued by bad governance, civil conflicts,disease and corruption and it is the poor that suffer. It should be a global duty for everyone to help enhance the quality of life in Africa. Influential people should lead this noble cause and musicians are no exception.
Mustapha Hydara, Gambian in US

Musicians must first be proper role models
Guy, South Africa
Musicians must first be proper role models and the same applies to politicians and parents. Setting examples is the ONLY language that speaks with any influence.
Guy, South Africa

I can hardly expect that musicians have a vital role in saving Africa. Africa needs intellectuals who are ready to fight poverty and HIV/Aids, not alcoholics and drug addicts!
Degen, Eritrean in Italy

Music can be a primary source of educating Africans. Music in Africa is successful in spreading the word, eg, a famous Ugandan musician in the early 80s, used his talent to spread the word on HIV-AIDS in Uganda. Uganda is now among the leading advocates in Sub Sahara Africa in terms of protection against HIV / AIDS.
MJ, Canada

I don't think music will somehow stop poverty and Aids. The African government needs to step in.
Rick in US

I would like to say that music plays an important role in every society, the rich, the poor, the corrupt and the war torn. Musicians spread the message of love, peace and hope. Lucky Dube, Fela, Majek Fashek, Alpan Blondy are to mention but a few. Many have been to prison because of spreading the good news through music. Although African leaders are deaf to them, it doesn't mean their vision is not strong enough to save Africa. Remember what Bob Marley said? "How good and pleasant it could be to see the unification of all Africans"
Efe Osariemen, in Spain

Musicians can do so much to help Africa
Michel Tchoumbou, Cameroonian in Italy
Africans listen to music more than they read books or newspapers or watch TV. Musicians have the opportunity and potential to reach our people and educate them. Africa needs a generation of generous people that are willing to sacrifice self-interest and fame, but, no one group can do it all!
Michel Tchoumbou, Cameroonian in Italy

Sir Bob Geldof did a tremendous job with the Live Aid concert. The message was, 'let's start giving' and indeed people gave, but, that did not bring lasting relief to the hungry in Ethiopia. Millions of songs have been composed about the HIV/AIDS pandemic in order to warn humanity, but, there are still multitudes of people dying of AIDS. In a small way, they can preach about how deadly the virus is, but, it is up to the recipients of these messages to make use of them.
Shuttie F.N.Libuta, Zambian in Central Africa

In this era when everyone is struggling to make ends meet, what do musicians care about trying to save Africa, poverty and the spread of AIDS? Remember, it's survival first. Musicians would rather sing songs that would fetch them a modest amount of money, than sing educational songs which would not be a hit.
Amos, Ghanaian in US

Never under estimate the power of music. Yes, the musicians are among the biggest victims of this deadly disease, but their words will go a long way to save lives.
Joel Chiutsi, Canada

I think asking musicians to save Africa is maybe asking a little too much of anyone
Juli Perold, South African in UAE
I think asking musicians to save Africa is maybe asking a little too much of anyone. Musicians can create awareness and educate. By doing this, people will be armed with the knowledge and power to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Juli Perold, South African in UAE

Musicians can help to save Africa because many fans see thems as ordinary and in touch with peoples' problems such as AIDS.
Nyaga Munyi, kenya

If all the songs found their way into the African leaders' ears, I swear Africa could be free of wars, corruption, poverty and AIDS. Most people don't take musicians seriously because music is an art, but, music can carry strong messages.
Ericho Chikankheni-Phiri, Malawi

In Ethiopia, most of the population live in rural areas and do not have much access to information. Most don't have TVs or radios,and do not buy albums. Can anybody explain to me how approaching poor people with something they can't afford to hear is going to help? Singers in Ethiopia are not worshipped as they are in the US or Europe. What works for the west, doesn't necessarily work for Africa.
M M Sibhat, Ethiopian in Los Angeles

If the lyrics are well constructed, it will be sure to touch and change people, not only Africans but the rest of the world.
Oga Bob, USA.

Music is a step in getting people to at least talk about HIV
Farayi, Zimbabwe
Celebrities breaking down the stigmas surrounding HIV and Aids, can only be a positive thing. In some countries where one in three people are infected, it is incredible that there is still such fear in admitting and dealing with HIV. It is a problem that needs to be dealt with out in the open and music is a step in getting people to at least talk about it.
Farayi, Zimbabwe

Up and coming musicians in my country are nothing but a bad influence on society. Listen to their songs and you will keep wondering if they are paid to promote HIV/AIDS. Shame on them.
Kisanya Vincent, Kenya

Musicians are labelled with drug use and lots of socially unacceptable things.
Mebrate Taffese, Ethiopia

African artists, sportsmen and intellectuals used to be the voice of Africa, but now, they have been swallowed by political activism. We now see musicians, footballers and academics supporting dictatorial and greedy regimes because of the financial rewards that they are offered. Only God can save Africa.
Rexon, Cameroonian in UK

African music is very popular among my generation of young adults. Music by Baka Beyond and Ladysmith Black Mambazo can be found in many music stores. These musicians are building awareness of the struggles African people face. God bless them.
Haley Stolp, US

Musicians are among people highly affected by HIV/AIDS.
Getahun Legesse, Ethiopia

I believe that musicians can influence the behaviour of society, but, they've got to be real role models. In some African countries, musicians are among people highly affected by HIV/AIDS. The names of some musicians are also repeatedly mentioned in cases of drug addiction and alcoholism.
Getahun Legesse, Ethiopia

Africa's problem is much bigger than just poverty and HIV/AIDS. To think musicians can save the continent is laughable. African leaders hold the key to saving the continent. Until then, Africa will continue to die slowly.
Joe Abey, Cameroonian in US

Yes they will help in some ways, but cannot totally save Africa. The only thing that can save Africa is people's attitude toward sex.
Ganny O. Ogunshakin, Maryland, USA

I work for West Virginia Public Broadcasting where we produce the radio programme 'Mountain Stage'. We regularly feature African artists and I personally enjoy music by Habib Koite, Youssou N'Dour and Rokia Traore. If these artists became more vocal in the west, I am confident that they would shine a much brighter light on Africa. Musicians can speak out against the atrocities that exist and show people all over the world how they can help. Music is a universal language that we all speak.
James A Muhammad, USA

African Musicians cannot alleviate poverty nor stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, but they have a vital role to play. Their messages should be easily heard by the people because they are well known. Musicians' contributions can make a little headway.
Peter Tuach, USA

Musicians can easily appeal to a large portion of the population through songs. They are in a better position to bring about positive influence. I believe if most of the top musicians came together and produced songs of peace and unity, the entire continent would begin to sing along and this will encourage positive behaviour.
Joseoh Harris, Liberian in the US

African music encourages HIV/AIDS.
Thabor Deng Ding, Sudanese in US

African musicians aggravate the spread of HIV/AIDS by encouraging youths to practice more sex. Music doesn't reduce poverty either, but you can forget eating when you are in a nightclub. African music encourages HIV/AIDS.
Thabor Deng Ding, Sudanese in US




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