The Five Notable African Artistes Who Used Their Musical Dispositions To Stir Up Political Change

by Duke Magazine

Music is undoubtably a good medicine to the heart, as it tends to serenade the soul to an electrifying mood of peace, comfort, and happiness. Nothing does the magic better than the vibes of music. However, music can also be described as a direct or indirect proposition for support or refrainment towards/from a particular course. The inspiration behind every good music irrespective of its genre is to educate and encourage people outside the premise of being just an entertainment tool. 

In the Africa setting, music has been widely employed to support and also frown at some political charade of spites being cast on the masses of a particular country. It could be recall that at post-independence in many African countries, the military dictatorships took their turn of governance, thereby being dogmatic and egocentric about their views, opinions, and policies concerning the rule over their subjects. In addition, the act of racial hegemony in some places also caused an uproar which could chiefly be calmed with the baton of music for enlightenment and support.

To this end, Duke International Magazine has compiled five (5) African music acts that used their music to fight for the relevance of the masses in government, and also to stir up awareness for a sought-after social and political change in the society.

Bobi Wine

Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly called Bobi Wine, was a Ugandan artiste who had the tenacity and passion to make up amazing stunts with his music. This was obvious in his songs like “Ghetto,” “Ebibuuzo,” “Obululu,” and “Time bomb.” Prominent for his dreadnought violent verbal attack on the Museveni administration through music, Bobi Wine claimed his stance of not going with music to just entertain while his country suffers in the hands of a president he did not believe in.  

Today, Bobi Wine is one of the decorated individuals in Uganda, Africa, and the rest of the world, for his unwavering resistance against dictatorship, life presidency, poor governance, nepotism, and corruption that dominates Uganda. Now a big political figure in the East African country, he is an independent member of the Ugandan legislature. Today, his signature red beret that forms part of his fashion has become a favorite of young people. And so what does the government do? They ban red berets.

Bobi wine is remarkably intelligent, very exposed and very confident with a unique gift of being a remarkable artiste. 
He is a man who basically turned his music into a social control and music of social change. 
He has been arrested, tortured to near death, his concerts have been banned but he has remained the only hope for the oppressed majority in Uganda.
Bobi wine is reportedly the reason why all Ugandans have united regardless of tribe, age or political differences.

Fela Kuti

A maverick that pursued change until his death, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, also known as “Abami Eda”, meaning a ‘mysterious being,’ made music that transcended every sphere of the art. At the height of his fame, he created songs that had revolutionary undertones and incited people against the then military government for a good course. His songs poked holes into government policies and exposed government cruel policies towards the people.

Those songs included, “Zombie,” “Coffin for head of state,” “Shuffering and Shmiling,” “M.O.P,”  Frustration,” and many others.

In his musical career that spanned for over three decade, he was at some point pushed into the presidential race in Nigeria. Fela was born to an upper-middle-class family based in Ogun State. His mother, Chief Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, was a feminist in the anti-colonial movement, and his father, Reverend Israel Oludotun Ransome-Kuti was an Anglican minister and school principal, who was the first president of the Nigeria Union of Teachers. According to reports, Fela’s mother was pushed down to her death in her house towards the search for Fela who was been trailed by the then military government in Nigeria.

Sauti Sol

The group is not your regular and famous musical commentator no doubt, but Sauti Sol went all out to use their music in chanting for the release of Bobi Wine who was arrested by the Ugandan government. In a song featuring Kenya’s Nyashinski, several other Kenyan’s protested for the release of the Red Beret man. 

Hugh Masekela

Hugh Masekela is known as the “Father of South African Jazz” and Africa’s musical luminary, whose memory will continually be fresh in the heart of Africans after passing away in 2018 at age 78. 

He was diagnosed of prostate cancer in 2008, and despite the disease, the world-renowned flugelhornist, trumpeter, bandleader, composer, singer and political activist continued to perform until his demise.

After decades of struggle against apartheid, he was one of the few musicians who represented the continent and whose music raised a true flag of resistance to racist oppression by the government.

The songs include, “Stimela (Coal Train)” (1974) AlanBreck. “Been Such a Long Time Gone” (1974) Batch Music Library. “Vasco da Gama (Sailor Man)”, “Colonial Man”, “Cecil Rhodes” (1976) Raymond Beck, “Soweto Blues” (1977) 

Eddie Grant

The Guyanese-British vocalist and musician, Eddie Grant was the man behind the song that sparked up hope to South Africans, and became their anti-apartheid anthem. Released in 1988, the song was banned from South Africa, because it became a symbol for blacks in the Rainbow nation. Despite being banned, it was widely played amongst non South Africans. 

The song got huge commercial success and reached number seven on the UK Singles Chart, becoming Grant’s first top 10 hits for more than five years. He was a founding member of the group, The Equals and the pioneer of the genre ringbang.

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