Why I give: Angelique Kidjo

2012-10-27 17:46

Angelique Kidjo, Benin: Singer, UNICEF goodwill ambassador

Your philanthropy work through the Batonga Foundation embraces a range of issues, from disadvantaged children to HIV/Aids. You seem particularly passionate about girls’ education?
I think when we work in this field, we have to be humble: we’re trying to help and every situation is so complex and so unique but when I speak with some of the girls the Batonga Foundation is supporting and I see the dreams in their eyes, I’m very hopeful.

What kind of philanthropist would you describe yourself as?

I try to be an advocate for the people who don’t have my chance to have access to the media. I always speak up against the growing inequality in the world.

What or who inspired you to become involved in giving?
I have been so blessed to get an education when I grew up in Benin.

My dad was not rich but he managed to send all his 10 kids to school. The African continent has given me so much, culturally emotionally and musically.

I feel I have the responsibility to give back. My dream is that every girl on my continent would have the same chance I had.

You are active on Twitter – about your music and your philanthropy. Has social networking helped to spread the word about your work?
Yes and no. You can post a lot of messages on Facebook and give a lot of information to people but I have noticed that it doesn’t really mobilise them deeply.

There is nothing stronger than talking (or singing) to the people directly in the eyes: you connect in a real way, not through a click.

Do you have a best giving moment to share?
When one of the Batonga girls told me she wants to be president of Benin, I asked her why and she replied: the men haven’t done a great job so far, so maybe women should get into power.

Which song of yours best sums up your passion for philanthropy?

Batonga, I guess: It talks to a little girl and says: “you are poor but you dance like a princess, and you can do as you please regardless of what anyone tells you.”

In a way, it was already about women’s empowerment 25 years ago when I wrote it.

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