Music is the Medicine: UNESCO fights the Infodemic Through Culture on Africa Day

On May 25, as part of the celebration of Africa Day in partnership with France24 and the Innovation for Policy Foundation (i4Policy Foundation), UNESCO hosted a special edition of ResiliArt debate #DontGoViral: Fighting the Infodemic Through Culture followed by a concert in confinement of prominent artists from across the African Continent. More than 111,000 people participated live from across the world.

The debate was opened by UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, and focused on the role of artists in fighting disinformation and misinformation, the pandemic’s impact on cultural industries, and the challenges facing the sector in view of the digital transformation underway. Moderated by the journalist Valériane Gauthier of France 24, the debate featured artists part of the #DontGoViral Campaign and ResiliArt movement, notably Youssou N’Dour (Senegal), Neila Tazi (Morocco), Danny Lee (Niger), Siti Amina (Zanzibar, Tanzania), Kareytse Fotso (Cameroun), and Zolani Mahola (South Africa).

A 45-minute concert in confinement followed the debate, featuring prominent African artists including Bobi Wine and Spice Diana (Uganda), Oumou Sangare and Rokia Traore (Mali), Les Freres Smith and Seun Kuti (Nigeria), Youssou Ndour, Didier Awadi, and Sahad Sarr (Senegal), Mr. Leo (Cameroun), DJ Kedjevara and Revolution Groupe (Cote d’Ivoire), Djanny Pacha (DRC), Fafa Ruffino (Benin), Siti Amina (Zanzibar, Tanzania), Pam Luster (Burkina Faso), Danny Lee (Niger) and Marcus Miller (USA), among others.

The concert also featured the new release of a song of the #DontGoViral Campaign ““Zero Corona” by the Collective Africa Zero Corona, with more than 20 African artists from more than 6 countries, and a remix of UNESCO’s #DontGoViral playlist by African American DJ Flex.

ResiliArt is an online debate series with key industry professionals and artists—both established and emerging— that raises awareness of the far-reaching impact of current lockdown measures as well as of the importance of cultural and creative industries for economic development and social cohesion. It aims to trigger efforts to increase the creative sector’s resilience and sustainability, as well as harness the universality and power of creativity. Since the launch of the movement on 15 April 2020, over 70 debates in more than 35 countries including the Gambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe have been organized with the participation of artists and cultural professionals.

The #DontGoViral Campaign, launched by UNESCO in partnership with the i4Policy Foundation to mobilize creators and innovators to crowdsource creative content, addresses the urgent need for culturally relevant openly licensed information in African languages to inform communities, in their own languages, about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and combat the “infodemic” spreading disinformation and misinformation about the virus. Since 1 April, the campaign has received more than 580 submissions from 54 African countries, with more than 218 million hits on facebook and twitter.

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