In the African social construct especially among the people of ancient Mali; griots or traditional musicians played crucial roles in educating the masses about the history of the land, motivating warriors and even tutoring future leaders. Some of the roles played by ancient griots had been adopted by many of our postcolonial musicians who bravely took it upon themselves to politically educate the masses for self-determination at a time when Africa was void of strong political voices.
In an attempt to perpetuate imperialism, Africa’s education system was biasedly eurocentric, the media was controlled by unpatriotic elites who replaced true leaders like Lumumba, Modibo Keita, Kwame, Sankara, etc. At a time when conscious revolutionaries like Steve Biko were taken down, the continent needed voices that can reach far and beyond.
However, all hope wasn’t lost as the tom-tom of the revolution was still echoing louder through the talking drum, in the beautiful voice of Lucky Dube or the chanting voice of Bob Marley from the Island of Jamaica, the golden voice of Salif Keita, Fela Kuti, Mariam Makeba, Ismaël Lô, Youssou Ndour just to name a few.
In this video, we choose to reflect on one of the greatest Pan-African songs of all time by Youssou Ndour, recorded 25 years ago.
I am Youssou Ndour
Calling all Africans
Asking you to share ideas
And come together to a meeting of minds.
Without borders, let’s pool our resources and work together
Let’s come together and let nothing pull us apart
You heads of state
You may lead a country
But you don’t own it
True leaders love their country
Although we can ask for help
Let’s depend on ourselves first
We are Africans
When the sun comes up
Be on your feet
Ready with your tools of trade
The day passes very quickly
Let’s confront our problems one at a time
United we are stronger
A long road lies ahead
We have much to do
So, let’s get ready
When I think of how our grandparents suffered I cry
But our past must not stop us from moving forward
I dream to see Africans unified by a common vision
Let’s marshal our ideas, our energies
Open the borders and come together