UNESCO places music and the fight against COVID-19 at the heart of Africa Day celebration

Paris: Music and the fight against COVID-19 will be the focus of UNESCO’s celebration of Africa Day, 25 May, organized in partnership with the African Union of Broadcasting (AUB) and the Most Beautiful Dream Academy for Youth organization. Together they will organize the WAN (Worldwide Afro Network) Show, whose theme will be “Together as One, together is WAN.”

WAN is an initiative that mobilizes Africa’s civil society in addressing the health and social impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The celebration will feature several debates on subjects such as financial inclusion in times of economic downturn and the acceleration of Africa’s digital transformation.

“Culture is essential for the future of Africa,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, speaking about the Day. “Artists and creators contribute to the young continent’s vision of the future. They play a central part in relaunching the informal economy and bolstering communities’ resilience. UNESCO stands by them, during the pandemic and beyond.”

In partnership with the French broadcaster France24, UNESCO will host a ResiliArt debate (1pm, UTC) about the #DontGoViral campaign launched to counter false information about COVID-19 with the Innovation for Policy Foundation (i4Policy). The debate will focus on the role of artists in fighting the fake news “infodemic,” on the pandemic’s impact on the cultural industries and on the challenges facing the sector in view of the digital transformation underway. Moderated by France24 journalist Valériane Gauthier, the debate will be webcast by UNESCO, WAN and France24.

A short 45-minute concert with prominent African artists will be featured on the same websites at 1.45 pm UTC. Some 20 African artists will perform the theme song of UNESCO’s #DontGoViral campaign during the concert which will also feature a remix of UNESCO’s #DontGoViral playlist by African American DJ Flex.

The Day will close with a major online concert with the participation of celebrated artists including: Jimmy Cliff, Oumou Sangaré, Youssou N’dour, Angélique Kidjo, Chris Martin Coldplay, Femi Kuti, Djimon Hounsou, Baaba Maal, Tiken Jah Fakoly, Khadja Nin, Lénine, Calypso Rose, Aït Menguelet, Hiro, Kassav, Salif Keita, Aston Barret Wailers, Cheick Tidiane Seck. The concert will be broadcast on prime time by Africa’s public, and some private, broadcasters with technical support by the African Union of Broadcasters.

UNESCO’s #DontGoViral campaign will also be broadcast throughout the Day and during the concert. The broadcasting unions of the Asia-Pacific region and Europe will also facilitate the airing of the event by their members.