Inspiring youth through Zouglou

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Magic System Concert in Lubumbashi.

Salif Traore, better known as A’salfo, is an artist from the Ivory Coast and the leader of the band ‘Magic System’, which utilizes a genre of music known as Zouglou to raise awareness about critical issues that people, and in particular the youth, are facing in the Ivory Coast. A’salfo is active in social causes in the Ivory Coast and world-wide. He is UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and founder of the Festival of Urban Music of Anoumabo (FEMUA), which is an international festival aimed at the disadvantaged.  

On the occasion of his concert in Lubumbashi in the DRC on 22 September 2012, A’salfo talked to us about his first activities as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and his engagement with UNESCO in Africa.  

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Magic System Concert in Lubumbashi.

You gave a concert with Magic System in Lubumbashi, in the DRC, one day after the International Day of Peace. What does this represent for you?  

A'salfo: Giving a concert in this city just after the celebrations of the International Day of Peace is a very symbolic gesture for me, because this city in particular, is in need of a message of appeasement, in view of the situation it finds itself in since several years. This part of the Congo is the most affected by war. Delivering a message of peace in Lubumbashi as my first UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador mission is a strong indication on my part of my future struggles during the course of my Ambassadorship.  

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Magic System Concert in Lubumbashi.

Music is your means of expression and of raising awareness. Why did you choose Zouglou as your genre of music?  

A'salfo: By nature, Zouglou is a music that carries with it strong messages of social commentary, addressed to everyone. Its philosophy approaches that of UNESCO, in a sense: approaching certain parts of the population through messages that relate to their daily lives and re-affirming the importance of certain issues. Thus, I believe Zouglou can have an important role to play in the promotion of Peace, and one which it owes to itself to pursue.  

©UNESCO
Group photo of Magic System with the UNESCO Kinshasa Field Office staff.

Why did you decide to work with UNESCO in Africa?

The fact that UNESCO designated me as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador has reinforced my will to fight for and promote education and a culture of Peace. This is where this natural and logical partnership comes from.    

A’salfo’s mission also included a visit to the UNESCO Field Office of Kinshasa and a chance to talk with UNESCO staff there regarding UNESCO’s activities in the field. According to him, the visit allowed him to‘re-inforce his belief in the importance of literacy and peace in Africa. This reciprocal exchange of views was very fruitful.’    

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