Tuesday, December 04, 2007


On December 3, 2007 AfricaFiles circulated an article that Africa News had published on November 30, 2007. The article is about the wide distribution of the music album "Nous sommes les Tam-tams (We are the Drums)" [which is also the name of the lead song.

According to Africa News:

"Thirty-seven musicians from across Africa have partnered with the UN to produce an 11-title musical album to sensitise Africans on HIV/AIDS, poverty, gender inequalities, illiteracy and conflicts. According to a statement from the UNDP office in Bamako, Mali, Thursday, the tracks sung in 18 African languages carry very clear messages on the issues. Five of the songs were on the prevention against the HIV infection, the need to break the silence on AIDS, to fight stigmatisation and discrimination around it as well as to promote human rights. The leading song "Nous sommes les Tam-tams (We are the Drums)" calls on individuals and institutions to get involved in efforts to ensure an "AIDS-free generation" by 2015 and to fight against poverty and hunger. Other songs advocate education for all girls, equal rights and opportunities for women.

"The album, as well as a video clip of the top song, has been freely distributed to radio and TV stations in 52 countries in Africa. The album was jointly produced by the UNDP, the United Nations Office of Sports for Development and Peace (UNOSDP), the UN Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations' Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Millennium Campaign. The album was produced by Africa Fête, a Dakar-based Pan-African label led by Mamadou Konté, who died shortly before the completion of the project.

"Both the Olympus Company and the International Association of Athletics Federations provided the financial support for the initiative, launched in 2003- 2004 following meetings in Dakar, Senegal, on the relevance of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa. Seventeen singers, including legendary saxophonist Manu Dibango, recorded the song "Nous sommes les Tam-tams (We are the Drums)". It was arranged by Boncana Maïga. The singers include Achien'g Abura (Kenya), Mahmoud Ahmed (Ethiopia), Didier Awa di (Senegal), Chiwoniso (Zimbabwe), Manu Dibango (Cameroon), Jaojoby Eusebe (Madagascar), Coumba Gawlo Seck (Senegal), Salif Keïta (Mali ) and Angélique Kidjo (Benin). Others are Habib Koité (Mali), Ismaë Lô (Senegal), Baaba Maal (Senegal), Malouma (Mauritania), Cheb Mami (Algeria), Meiway (Côte d'Ivoire), Yves Ndjock (Cameroon), Youssou N'Dour (Senegal), Koffi Olomidé (DRC) and Saintrick (Congo)."

In 2004, UNDP issued the following Press Release concerning the then upcoming album:

"Monrovia, 18 October 2004—Eighteen top musicians from all over Africa have combined forces in response to the appeal launched by the United NationsDevelopment Programme (UNDP) to compose and perform a song aimed at involving every member of society in the fight against poverty and HIV/AIDS. Thesong, launched simultaneously in African countries on 18 October and entitled " Weare the drums", is part of the "Africa 2015" initiative, the aim of which is to accelerate attainment of the "Millennium Development Goals" (MDGs).

“Under the leadership of Boncana Maiga (Mali), the singers Achien’g Abura (Kenya), Mahmoud Ahmed (Ethiopia), Didier Awadi (Senegal), Chiwoniso (Zimbabwe), Jaojoby Eusebe (Madagascar), Coumba Gawlo Seck (Senegal), Salif Keita (Mali), AngéliqueKidjo (Benin), Habib Koité (Mali), Ismaël Lô (Senegal), Baaba Maal (Senegal), ChebMami (Algeria), Malouma (Mauritania), Meiway (Ivory Coast), Koffi Olomidé (Democratic Republic of Congo), Saintrick (Congo) and Youssou N’Dour (Senegal) recorded the song in Dakar and Paris with Manu Dibango (Cameroon) on saxophone and Yves Ndjock (Cameroon) on guitar. The original music was composed by Manu Dibango and Yves Ndjock, and arranged by Boncana Maiga and Manu Dibango. Work on the project was coordinated by Africa Fête, a label of musical production, under the guidance of Mamadou Konté.

“The lyrics, sung by Youssou N’Dour, invite people to stop being "victims of poverty, victims of hunger", and to take individual responsibility to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS so that the 2015 generation will not be affected by the disease. The artists calls on each person in Africa to "act as a tam-tam drum", passing the message on to those who have not yet heard it. The song marks a new stage in the commitment of artists and other celebrities involved in the "Africa 2015" initiative launched by UNDP in conjunctionwith the various United Nations agencies.

The MDGs were adopted in 2000 by all the governments at the UN; they cover eight major commitments to be achieved by 2015, including halving poverty in the world, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, and ensuring that all children have access to full primary education.

"‘Unless a special effort is made, Africa will not be able to attain the Goals before 2145, whereas the rest of the international community is talking about 2015. The presence of these artists…shows that this is not inevitable as far as Africa is concerned, and that there is a commitment to turning the situation around. A commitment at the level of each man and woman in Africa, and a commitment on the part of the international community’, said Djibril Diallo, Director of UNDP's Communications Office.

"’For once we're doing something together, to make our work as artists much more noble," explained Baaba Maal, a Senegalese singer and UNDP Youth Emissary. "We decided that after the song, over the next thirteen years, we want to make use of every possibility available to us to pass on these messages.: record the songs together first, then, if necessary, go to primary schools, secondary schools and barracks, to meet young people, parents, the authorities …’

“The song is the first step in the involvement of these African artists in the Africa 2015 initiative; it is to be followed by an album that will include, in addition to a rap version of the "We are the drums" in both English and French, about a dozen individual songs in conjunction with other major artists involved in the project. The titles will be inspired by the MDGs themselves. "This album will include both experienced performers and new talent", said Mamadou Konté, the director of Africa Fête.

“Nowhere else in the world is attainment of the Goals so important and so urgent as it is in Africa. Life expectancy, per capita income and the level of education have plummeted in many African countries, and a number of fatal diseases are far from being under control. Every other person in the sub-Sahara region of Africa lives on less than one US dollar a day. Of the 40 million carriers of the HIV/AIDS virus in the world, about 30 million are African. Currently, communities in Africa are barely able to cope with the 11 millionchildren orphaned by HIV/AIDS – by 2015, the number will have risen to 40 million.

“The "Africa 2015" initiative, launched by UNDP two years ago, focuses firstly on poverty and HIV/AIDS. It is a wide-ranging, pan-African movement that seeks to mobilise the energy that exists in Africa to intensify the efforts being made and to give rise to new initiatives. In addition to support from singers, it has also received backingfrom Africa's sportsmen and -women.’

“‘Through a net work of news organizations and Blogs, hopefully, the wider African community [on the Continent and in the Diaspora] will be made aware of "Nous sommes les Tam-tams (We are the Drums)’"

Now that you know that the album is out there, ask your radio and television stations to air it for the public to see and hear.

Information for this Blog post was found at the following locations.


Africa News

U.N. Press Release in 2004

1 comment:

Omodudu said...

I was looking foward to a direct link the the album at the bottom of the post. Thanks for the heads up.