By Anele Selekwa, Jessica Violetta and Jared Sachs
The Afrikan Hiphop Caravan will visit politically conscious hiphop communities across the African continent in the lead up to the World Social Forum in Tunis March 26-30. The annual project aims to build bridges and share social justice and cultural resources among these nascent communities.
The vision for the Caravan grew out of conversations at the 2011 World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal between a small group of conscious Hiphop collectives and activists. After this and other meetings we realized that the oportunities we have had to collaborate have often been based on an NGO’s initative that we must adhere to. Recognizing the importance that our communities and politics develop independent of NGO agenda’s we have grown the Caravan initiative. Today the network has grown to eight leading Afrikan grassroots Hiphop collectives including: Soundz of the South (South Africa), Imbawula Trust (South Africa), Uhuru Network (Zimbabwe), Pungwe Entertainment (Zimbabwe), Pamberi Trust (Zimbabwe), Ukooflani Mau Mau (Kenya), Sankara Studios (Senegal) and Disobedience (Tunisia).
Together we aim to harness the power of Hiphop culture to support African communities to address social problems and build continental-wide movements to create social change. Our collectives already utilize Hiphop to produce music, popular education and artistry to speak to issues of dictatorship and democracy, racism, gender inequalities, and cultural development. We have seen what is possible when Hiphop is used to inspire and engage young people and challenge the status-quo of corrupt politcs as usual. For instance, in Senegal the underground Hiphop scene became recognized as the official opposition after helping to remove the french pupet government of Abdoulaye Wade in 2007, and then by leading demonstrations and riots in 2010, 2011 and 2012 put down his canidacy again in 2012. The Afrikan Hiphop Caravan endevours to build on such local experiences by creating space and organization to share cultural tools, and strategize around regional and national issues.
As a group of linked collectives, our latest brainchild is “The Afrikan Hiphop Caravan” – an annual educational exchange involving an array of Hiphop artists from six African cities. The vision for the caravan is to establish a tour engaging African and international Hiphop artists, activists and intellectuals to exchange and produce knowledge and art. The plan is for the caravan to produce collaborative recordings and two concerts, (one in the city center and one in a high-density neighborhood), and a Hiphop Symposium in each city.
Originally the Caravan was planned to begin in South Africa in February 2013 and travel north culminating in a two-day symposium at the end of March at the World Social Forum in Tunis, Tunisia. Due to a lack of funding some of this vision has changed. We are happy to let you know events are going forward in Cape Town (Feb. 13 – 17), Johannesburg (Feb. 20 – 23) and in Harare (Feb. 25 - March 3). These events will include local, regional and international artists, including Portland, U.S.’s own Mic Crenshaw. Nairobi is getting off the ground sometime in March - the original dates are shifting as the election was just announced for the same weekend we had planned! We haven't solidified plans for the Tunis, World Social Forum leg as funding for travel hasn't been secured yet. But we are still knocking on doors, and are hopeful something will pull through to get us there. We truly hope to see many of you from the U.S. activist community in birth place of the Arab spring in March.
Over the next year we aim to strengthen our connections to international Hiphop communities and activists to gather the financial support necessary to realize this project’s vision of becoming an annual movement building initiative. If you are aligned with our vision we would love to count you as one of our supporters. If you can make a financial contribution, become an endorser of the Caravan,or simply want to keep in touch with our work please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current Endorsers include: Dead Prez (U.S.), The Coup (U.S.), Zion I (U.S.), Mumi Abu-Jamal (U.S.), Global Fam (U.S.), Hip Hop Congress (U.S.), the Obo Addy Legacy Project (U.S.), Veterans For Peace (U.S.) Education WithOut Borders (U.S.), University of Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe), Disobedience (Tunisia), Sankara Studios (Senegal), Africultureban (Senegal), Ukooflani (Kenya), Mau Mau (Kenya).