Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Akon launches anti-slavery song


R&B star Akon has launched a song to commemorate the victims of the slave trade, past and present.

He debuted "Blood Into Gold" at the United Nations, New York, on Wednesday - the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery.

"I will do my part to spread the word - a lot of my US friends are not aware of the history [of slavery]," he said.

Akon, real name Aliaune Thiam, was born in St Louis, Missouri, but spent much of his youth living in Senegal.

"[Slavery] is a big situation for us - the younger generation," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

"It's very important for me because it was the slaves that opened the door for me personally.

"Seeing how far we've come, I'm honoured to be a part of it and I will do my part to spread that word.

"As people, we should stop using each other for money purposes."

History lesson

Akon, the son of famous Senegalese percussionist Mor Thiam, shot to fame in 2004 with the release of his solo debut album, Trouble, which spawned the hit single "Locked Up".

He was the first solo artist to accomplish the feat of holding both the number one and two spots simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, twice.

On "Blood Into Gold" he collaborates with Emmy-award winning musician Peter Buffett, who was asked by the non-profit organisation, Culture Project, to write a song for the "Breaking the Silence, Beating the Drum" event.


Proceeds from the single will go to an organisation whose purpose is to educate and bring an end to human trafficking worldwide.

"Everyone knows that I'm African. It's very important for us as Africans to better educate African-Americans about their history," he said.

"A lot of my friends that come to Senegal - I always take them to Goree Island, where the [slaves] were kept and shipped off. It's very important to know the history."

He added: "I think we're definitely getting very very close to all of us not judging each other by the colour of our skin.

"Am I treated differently [because of fame]?

"Absolutely. They definitely treat me differently from a bum on the street.

"But you shouldn't have to be in a good position to be treated right."

Print Sponsor


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific