Music can make a difference in the world.

Does a song ever move you? Are you a fan of live performances that turn your worst day into your best day? Did you ever hear a song that moved you? Music can move and change us. Music today doesn’t seem to have the same earth-moving and society-shaping power as the past music.

The antiwar sentiments expressed by Bob Dylan, a US composer, are much rarer. The anti-apartheid and government-challenging lyrics of musicians like South Africa’s Miriam Makeba and Nigeria’s Fela Kuti have largely been exchanged for party-hard, live-the-rich-life lyrics.

Music has become an integral part of our lives thanks to modern technology. We listen to it while driving to work, at parties, while studying, or when exercising. Because of its messages, we see fewer people carrying picket signs on the streets. However, musicians still hope their words will bring about change.

Youssou N’Dour, a musician and peacemaker from Senegal, is well-known around the globe. He lends his music and words to important campaigns promoting malaria prevention. Oliver Mtukudzi has made music that has raised awareness and encouraged a dialogue about HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe. Angelique Kidjo, UNICEF’s goodwill ambassador, sings about injustice, hunger, homelessness and AIDS in Benin. Some up-and-coming musicians have also joined the protests against crimes, human rights violations, and Xenophobia.

Music with a message

Combining the right lyrics and rhythm can create a sense of belonging, stir strong emotions and engage people. Music is the ideal partner for social reform. Many NGOs, bands, and activists in Africa work together to make music a positive force for social change.

The Sigauque Project, a Mozambican band, is based in Maputo. Their music is about raising awareness and trying to effect change. Its musical influences include Senegalese Marrabenta and Nigerian Afrobeat. The band uses music from across Africa and performs it uniquely, creating a unique pan-Africanism. Two singers with full horn sections and rhythmic drum percussion create a lively sound and loud and carry the message.

You hear musicians now singing about girls, money, and fast cars. “Africa was once full of music that made statements–about corruption, government, and other important things,” said Daniel Walter, Sigauque Project leader and trumpet player. “Our music speaks about HIV, women’s rights, recovering after a disaster, and Xenophobia. We’re not just making great music; we’re also saying something.

Music to promote social change

Community Media for Development Productions (CMFD) produced most of the music used by the Sigauque project. This company records music and runs radio programs for social change. Musicians Against Xenophobia was a project that brought together musicians from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to create four songs about discrimination.

The large South African migrant population is subject to harassment and discrimination. Mascotte, a Mozambican player of the saxophone, says that many people don’t know these things occur. “Maybe we can get people to think about these things through music. People will be changed.”

CMFD Productions, Sigauque Project and other musicians have recently released two songs to raise awareness about HIV. The first combines the band’s jazz sound with lyrics by a local rapper about being faithful. The other uses the passada rhythms Mozambicans love dancing to.

The CMFD also created other songs for radio programs. The latest, “Hungry City”, is part of a radio drama and documentary series on the situation in South African cities regarding food security. Another song is about floods in Mozambique. It’s part of a radio series that focuses on the country’s recovery after the flooding in 2013.

Music is a platform

Music is an integral part of popular culture. It entertains us and is a great platform to discuss social issues. Concerts can be very effective as artists can address large audiences. Large numbers of people must receive social messages to become a reality. Individuals are more likely to listen to their peers who accept them.

People hear music and sing along, repeating the messages to make sure others hear them. This allows people to listen to the music and then talk about it.

Music can be used to communicate important messages and ideas to others. It is an effective way for people to share their thoughts and hope to listen.

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