As the most colourful race on the planet, we Africans bring a special light to wherever we are. We’ve been expelled and scattered all over the world in the past, but we’ve made our home in our hearts. Today, it’s either to japa or face sapa, our struggle in Africa is real.
For us, every heartbeat brings a new rhythm, and a new song comes from every experience. No matter how far we are from home, we create a new culture for ourselves and find solace in togetherness.
Africans are in just about every continent on Earth, mostly due to the slave trade from the 1500-1800s. It’s a tragic story that hangs from the neck of every African who cares to read or (thankfully) watch YouTube, but yet, there is a silver lining to that horrible exodus.
When we found ourselves in new places and facing new experiences, we turned our emotions to new music. Think about it. That’s why Africans (all over the world) are responsible for most of the genres of music in the world today. If you didn’t know before, you’re about to.
First, we unlocked Blues, Country, Bebop & Gospel in the diaspora, from the songs our people sang working as slaves. It was exciting, western instruments were new to us.
Then, we invented Jazz, Funk, R&B, Soul, Rock & Disco. Most of these genres influenced Fela Kuti & Tony Allen’s Afrobeat.
From the next generation of music, we gave birth to Rap, Hip-hop, Drill, Grime in the US & UK. They reflected the struggles of the newer generation, and enforced a hustle mentality.
Also, we developed Reggae, Dancehall and Soca in the Carribean, and House & Techno from the Disco in the US. As most of us enjoy coming together to party, we found comfort in letting go of our stresses, even if it was just for the night.
Back in Nigeria, we created Afrobeat, Juju, Highlife, Afro swing, Street-hop and Alté music, and the party is still on. The new craze is South Africa’s Amapiano.
To most people, African music is when you hit the congas in those special ways. To me, African music is when you and I tell the story of who we are, and the world around us by blending sounds, emotions & experiences.
Being a musician myself, it’s comforting to know that self-expression is more important than the genre I decide to work with. If Africans forget that and get lost in the “Afro” sauce, our music will become stale.
As brilliant people with a vast and colourful heritage, we should be proud of our collective and individual uniqueness, and create art for art’s sake. We should not limit ourselves, but push past our limits – after all, music is a language, and language keeps evolving.
That’s what it means to be spectacular, to be beautiful.
This article was written by Walo Olapoju; connect with him on Instagram via here