Baaba Maal calls for media to be "at the centre of development"
Senegalese music star Baaba Maal has joined forces with the BBC World Service Trust to call for a renewed focus on the creative use of the media in combating poverty. Speaking – and singing – at a special event in Nairobi last week, he told his audience “media should be at the centre of development”.
African music legend Baaba Maal gave a special performance in support of the BBC World Service Trust (BBC WST) at the Nairobi National Museum, Tuesday 28th September.
Interviewed by the BBC’s Tom Japanni on his career, development commitments and future plans, Maal then thrilled a packed house with an intimate acoustic set, accompanied by percussionist Mouhamadou Sarr.
The BBC WST was delighted to bring the Senegalese star to Kenya for the first time in two years.
Speaking to those attending, Regional Director Caroline Ford explained the partnership: "The reason Baaba Maal and the BBC World Service Trust are working together is because we share a common belief; that development is currently at a crossroads. The media is potentially the next wave for international development in Africa."
"Baaba’s is a unique African voice, and we are honoured to be working with him", she added.
Speaking to Tom Japanni, Maal added: "media has to be at the centre of development … the media, especially radio, can transform lives. It connects communities and gives people a voice."
The Nairobi show came just a week after world leaders attended a UN summit in New York to assess progress on the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted ten years ago.
A long-time advocate on development issues including women’s rights, sexual health and the environment, Maal admitted there was a long way to go to meet targets set for 2015. "Achieving the millennium development goals is not just for musicians or decision makers, it is for everyone" he said.
Maal also drew praise from those attending by calling for a focus on women and young people: "Our leaders should be listening to young people and giving power to the women of Africa. To put them at the frontline in politics, in culture and in the economy because this is how we can change things in Africa", he said.
Harnessing that power could be the key to transforming Africa, Maal argued:
"Everyone talks about Africa’s problems, which of course we have like anyone else, but at the same time it’s a great continent, a place with rare energy" he said, adding:
"Media is important to make the link between the people who are making the decisions and the people far away in a small village who may have the better idea about how to resolve some problems."
A focus on the ability to reach, and respond to, the most rural, marginalised and isolated individuals and communities became the central theme of the evening.
Baaba Maal is an official ambassador for the BBC World Service Trust and a long time supporter of the charity.
The BBC WST in Africa works across ten countries. In partnership with a wide range of media and development agencies, its programmes reach millions of people across the continent with life-changing information on health, humanitarian, governance and livelihoods issues.