Arts, Culture & Media

Global Hit

When you think non-governmental organizations working in Africa, you might think of them digging wells or improving people's health. That's just part of the picture, though. The Washington-based NGO "Search for Common Ground" is trying to improve people's lives in ANGOLA through a musical project. The World's Marco Werman explains.

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Some NGOs measure their success by the number of pumps they've sunk in the ground. Here's the gauge of Search for Common Ground's success in Angola.

This music represents in a way the next baby steps Angola is taking toward a peaceful future. Search for Common Ground works in countries where there is, or has been conflict.

And it works with locals to determine innovative ways to, as its name indicates, find common ground between opposing sides.

One of those innovative ways has often been through the arts. This arts project in Angola is called "Angola solta a tua voz": Angola lift up your voice. The voices on this track belong to two of Angola's best-known singers.

Bonga, who spent many years in exile writing songs about his dreams for the country. And Filipe Mukenga who has also been a musical proponent for peace. But most of the singers on "Angola Solta a Tua Voz" are less well known than those two.

Angolan music fans know them. But even they will be surprised to find some of these musicians duetting together.

That was the idea.
In the wake of conflict, bring together artists who wouldn't normally sing together: fusing different styles from different parts of the country and fusing different generations of artists.

Recorded and produced in Angola, this album came about last year when it was announced that parliamentary elections in Angola will take place this coming September. The last time there was an election in Angola was 1992. The ruling MPLA won that election narrowly.

And when the UNITA rebel movement rejected the results, the country was plunged back into civil war. The musicians on this CD want to prevent a repeat of that 92 election. And with the play it's getting on Angolan radio, it could make a big difference.

It may sound warm and fuzzy to say, but the whole "Angola solta a tua voz" project is a big musical hug between artists from different parts of the country. Not coincidentally, "Um abraco a Angola" -- "A Hug for Angola" happens be the title of this track from the young rappers MC K and Father Mac.

It's time to transform history, raps MC K. He's not joking, and the odds are good that most Angolans would agree.

For The World I'm Marco Werman.

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