Travel – Simphiwe Dana for Africa

2014-06-24 14:00

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Soul star Simphiwe Dana recently took a life-changing trip to the headquarters of the African Union

Tell us about your recent trip to the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa.

I was first invited in March to be part of a round table on African development and languages.

I was so excited. I requested a meeting with the chairperson of the AU, our very own Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. She has written the African Union Agenda 2063. It’s a beautiful dream that details a future vision of Africa.

It’s a letter from the year 2063 to tell Kwame Nkrumah about how Africa has developed in the future. It’s so beautiful I cried when I read it. However, she had not elaborated on how the creative industries fit into developing the continent.

I made an example of how before MTV Base started pumping Nigerian music, we were so wary of Nigerians. Now we see them as beautiful. We can trust and do business.

Then she said: ‘You go and gather your fellow artists, and write the arts and culture chapter of the AU’s Agenda 2063, and I give you just under two months to do it.’

That’s incredible. How many artists did you gather and where is the process now?

In the end we got 120 artists, drawn from each of the 50 member states. We produced the document. We want it to be a living document that is reviewed every year.

You recently released a single, Nzima, which is to appear on your forthcoming album. The music video is explicitly about Marikana?

When Marikana happened on August 16 2012, two months after June 16, I wrote an article about my initial reaction.

The shock, the awe and everything about it that left me traumatised as a black person. It took me a long time to process it. I remember a lot of us artists called one another and talked about doing something.

But we were all confused and shocked. Time went by and we didn’t do anything. One day while I was sitting in the studio working on another song, it hit me that we are still serving the master and are willing to kill one another to please the master.

We are still wounded psychologically. That’s how the song came to me.

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