As globalization continues to take root, it seems that more and more borders are opening up and economies are becoming more interlinked, meaning that the movement of people and money is now much easier than before. However, Africa has largely been left behind all of this, until recently.
Africa had always been seen and perceived to be of little value in contributing to the world economy, with the 'dark continent' moniker amplified even further by stories that emphasize just how badly off we were thanks to economic decline and corruption.
However, the continent has experienced stunning growth over the past two decades, weathering the worst of the crisis that has caused economies elsewhere to stagnate. As a result, the continent has seen the rise of a relatively wealthy middle class, with disposable incomes on the rise. Even though we are a little late to the globalisation party, we are learning to make the most of it.
There have been a number of business summits and conferences on the continent, with deals signed to connect the continent to the global marketplace, but one particular sector is starting to get recognition - entertainment.
There is growing interest in African culture, music, and entertainment thanks in part to the increasing visibility of cultural and artistic icons from the continent. The internet has also come to spread the more invisible aspects of African culture beyond these icons, meaning that more African people to stand out and get noticed.
While American entertainment still dominates the world, we're also seeing more African acts going mainstream. There are now more collaborations between American and African artists than ever before. This mashup of cultures has also had another effect on the African continent.
Africa - A Destination for American Entertainment
Just a few years ago, it was almost unheard of for American artists to visit Africa to perform. Most of them have performed at home in the States, in mainland Europe and Australia, and with a couple of stopovers in Asia as well. These performances have been dubbed 'World Tours', which is obviously a misnomer, as they routinely leave out the second most populous continent.
Despite many Africans being familiar with American entertainment, a good number being hardcore fans, it has been a source of disappointment for them to miss out on these performances.
It seems that things are starting to change. Now more American artists are realizing the potential that Africa has in both culture and as a market for their music. Hip hop as an art and culture, is a global movement, and Africa is attuned to this and welcoming hip artists in throngs on the continent.
Trey Songz is one such musician, traveling from the US to Kenya to take part in the upcoming season of Coke Studio, where he will collaborate with Ghana's Stone Bwoy among other artists. American artist Jidenna went back to Nigeria where he grew up to record a few tracks from his latest album Long Live the Chief is set to be released later this year. A number of other musicians have incorporated African influences into their music, and rather than leave it there, many of these artists are also starting to visit the continent as well.
African artists that have become mainstream in the U.S. have also greatly contributed to putting Africa on the world map. South African, Nigerian, and Kenyan artists are leading in this regard. Nigeria, for example, has a good number of artists who've had collaborations with American artists, and some have even been signed to record labels in the U.S. with the likes of P-Square, Wizkid, and Davido putting African music on the charts as a result.
Collaborations like those of Alicia Keys and DJ Black Coffee are also proof that the African sound is getting worldwide acceptance.
African concerts for African music
International artists are seeing the need to push their music across the African continent with a good number doing shows and performances on the continent. We've seen performances from J.Cole in South Africa, Aloe Blacc and Estelle in Kenya just to name a few.
One sign that Africa's music scene is indeed booming is the rise of locally organized festivals featuring international performers. made it
The Nyege Nyege Festival took place on the banks of the river Nile earlier this month. The three-day festival featured a daily screening program of films and documentaries about music and art installations, along with two performance stages.
The festival honoured African electronic music legends while showcasing the next wave of electronic music, with more than 200 acts from 31 countries. The organization was all done from Uganda, and the two-day event was a resounding success.
Moving forward, it seems like the current African renaissance is just the beginning. Expect to see more concerts featuring internationally renown acts gracing the African stage, and more African talent get showcased on the world scene.