“Let us join forces and give the young generation of Africa the support they need. Because they are the future!” calls Baaba Maal from the Gambia’s largest stage at Independence Stadium Bakau. Together with the Burkinabe rapper and activist Smockey, Gambian stars like Rapper Killa Ace, kora virtuoso Tatadindin Jobarteh and Afro manding star Sambou Suso, the Finnish Sami duo Wimme & Rinne and the Ensemble Modern from Germany, the Senegalese singer celebrated the power of music at the AfriCourage festival for almost eight hours on 28 December.
Moving out of the comfort zone
“We want to demonstrate the power culture can have when it comes to strengthening civil society, freedom of expression and democracy,” explains Philip Küppers, director of the Goethe-Institut Senegal, which organised the festival together with its Gambian partner Black Lynx Entertainment.
AfriCourage is on the programme for the second day of the OpenMicFest, a Gambian music event that has been organised by Black Lynx Entertainment for over ten years. What started as a street action is today the best-known hip-hop festival in the country and an important space for civil society actors. “We want change and international cooperation. The only question is whether we’re ready for it,” says Badman Waagan, co-founder of Black Lynx Entertainment. “We have to move out of our comfort zone. ”AfriCourage offers the opportunity to prove that change is there and that we welcome and shape it.“
Rap and restitution
AfriCourage’s message of promoting cooperation, engagement, participation, tolerance and democracy is made audible by the Liberation Orchestra of Inverted Traditions. What is more appropriate than an orchestra made up of European and West African artists – including a Gambian hip-hop activist and a Senegalese academic? Known for his role in the restitution debate and his book Afrotopia, at AfriCourage, Felwine Sarr works for collaboration and participation as a singer and guitarist.
”Direct dialogue between people from different cultures is incredibly important,“ says Philip Küppers, who heads the Goethe-Institut Senegal. ”With the AfriCourage Festival in Gambia, we therefore want to establish a model for local and international collaboration in the creative industries.“
In addition to Black Lynx Entertainment, the Goethe-Institut works locally with the United Nations Youth Empowerment Project (YEP). Together, they organised Workshops for Gambian journalists, bloggers, activists and sound engineers who report on the festival and the Gambian music scene.
Thanks to the partnership with Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB) and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), AfriCourage can be experienced internationally: radio stations broadcasted the stage programme live across Europe. In the coming weeks, TV and radio stations will show further concert recordings and documentaries.
”We’ve provided the proof,“ says Johannes Theurer from RBB. ”With good partners and modern technology, we can internationally implement high-quality productions with manageable effort and thus offer our listeners access to cultural scenes in a way that was previously not possible in such a direct way.“
About the project
The goal of AfriCourage is to promote cooperation, engagement, participation, tolerance and democracy – values to which the OpenMicFest (OMF) is also committed. For more than ten years, this Gambian urban pop and hip-hop festival has been a platform where young Gambians in particular can meet and exchange ideas. The OpenMicFest plays a prominent role in Gambia’s civil society. Initiated by Black Lynx Entertainment, OMF has grown to become Gambia’s best-known music festival, drawing 15,000 visitors to Independence Stadium every year. The OpenMicFest took place on 27 December 2019. AfriCourage is a project by the Goethe-Institut Senegal in collaboration with Black Lynx Entertainment. Partners are Euroradio, RBB and the Gambia Youth Empowerment Project (YEP).