Asian Dub Foundation
For almost 15 years Asian Dub Foundation has delivered uncompromising messages of social change—looking at prejudice against Britons of Asian descent.
Steve Chandra Savale, already an accomplished musician, mentored several of the band members, including Aktar, the lead vocalist. Aktar came to Asian Dub after being victimized by a knife attack on London’s famous Brick Lane. He performed a song he wrote to try to make sense of the madness.
Asian Dub saw too many young, talented inner city youths failing to reach their potential and turning to a life of gangs, and more recently, knifes. So, they formed Asian Dub Foundation Education (ADFED) as a way of getting them back on track.
ADFED teaches inner city kids music technology and steers them towards different options and career paths. Through ADFED, the band not only gives them a chance to escape the gangs but it also introduces new talent into the band.
The plight of the Touareg is simply to survive. In this episode, Steve travels to the far reaches of Northern Mali to meet two of the founding members of Tinariwen –Ibrahim and Hassan. He witnesses the power and importance of the band at the yearly camel festival. These nomadic tribesmen have not only endured years of drought but fought a bloody civil war in the 1990’s. Through all the hardship there has been one constant – the music of Tinariwen.
Tinariwen were once a group of rebel soldiers, training alongside Colonel Gadaffi in Libya, with the aim of preserving Tourareg cultural identity and access to basic resources. But after years of struggle and violence they decided to lay down their guns and fight with a different weapon – music. It is music that they now believe will awaken political consciousness and bring their plight to the world.
Such is their success, they are now reaching further and have founded Taghref-Tinariwen, an organization to promote the region.
24-year old Afrobeat musician Seun Kuti, youngest son and musical heir of the mighty Fela Kuti is the focus of Episode 3. Set in Nigeria’s capital, Lagos. Seun’s songs, like those of his father, attack one of the most corrupt governments in the world.
Fela Anikulapo Kuti died 11 years ago. A major difference since his death is the proliferation of the gangs of dispossessed youths known as Area Boys. They control entire neighbourhoods of Lagos with crime and violence. Seun talks about personal and political influences on his music, his relationship to the Area Boys and ambitions to effect change in his neighbourhood
Feliciano’s long term goals are bold – to bring clean water to the whole of his region of Mozambique and to stop the spread of disease. This is a personal quest. As a child he had polio, which left him crippled, yet determined to prevent children from his region from the ravages of disease.
His band, Massoukos, is the most well known band in the country. When he approaches new communities he does it with the band first. They arrive, they play and only then do they talk about how to make things better. Episode 4 sees Massoukos play their 73rd village gig.
Despite being presented as an African success story his province, Niassa, is among the poorest places in the world. Slowly this is changing and Feliciano Dos Santos is doing it through music.
Nuno Santos (aka Chullage) is a Cape Verdean living in Portugal. Half of his fellow Cape Verdeans in Lisbon don’t have official documents and live without basic human rights. Nuno writes blistering protest songs about being an immigrant in Europe, and his outspokenness has made him a target for right-wing attacks.
Yet Nuno has built a flourishing career out of the slums of Lisbon, where he spends all his spare time at a community centre he founded. It provides children with computers and after school classes. There’s a small recording studio where he teaches young talent to find and hone their skills. Episode 5 follows Chullage as he gets back to his first passion, music.
Vigario Geral is one of the most dangerous favellas in Brazil’s capital, ravaged by bloodshed and deprivation wrought by rival gangs of drug traffickers. Shootings have been a daily occurrence for decades, but it was a massacre of 21 youths by police in 1993 that sparked a remarkable musical group.
Episode 6 takes us to Vigario Geral where we meet Anderson Sá. He turned his back on drug dealing and crime and formed AfroReggae – a group dedicated to providing an alternative to children in the favellas. Now it runs 61 social projects in Rio de Janeiro and is a loose collective of six thousand.
Walking through the favela it is not unusual to stumble across 100 schoolchildren being taught the complex rhythms of Brazilian samba. Two thousand children are involved in 11 AfroReggae centres in Rio alone, where classes in music, dancing, martial arts are offered, alongside literacy programs and job training.