radio africa

Radio en traditionele muziek

Music can be heard everywhere in Africa all the time: sweeping Ghanese high life from homes, swinging South African marabi in restaurants, and rhythmic Congolese soukous from the screeching taxi buses. Crackly transistor radios scream the latest hip-hop hits through the streets, laced with newscasts and talk shows. But where can traditional music be heard?

In numerous African countries radio is the most important medium by far. For independent news about their own country, the population must rely on international broadcasting companies like the BBC, Radio France International and Voice of America. Even though the national stations are often an extension of the government, they are the only stations that devote attention to traditional music, albeit minimally. In Islamic countries like Mali and Morocco, religious chants are abundant in the programming.

Along with state radio and international broadcasting companies, there are community stations and pirate stations that primarily target the youth. These stations broadcast not only the international genres but also local hip-hop and reggae groups. A disadvantage of these stations is that they have no interest in saving traditional music, and the pirate stations even reduce the chance of survival of popular music studios.
A more recent development in Africa's musical countryside is the increasing number of music websites made for and by young people. These sites also focus on popular music styles: the country's own traditional music is almost never addressed.

There is much more interest in traditional music on the international level, where it is especially popular among Western audiences and referred to as world music. African artists hoping for global success are wise to focus on their own country's musical heritage. Because if they do not sound authentic for one reason or another, they will probably never be heard in the West.

Although African stations pay little attention to it, the continent's traditional music is certainly not endangered. Radio, television and internet have much less influence in the numerous small villages in particular than in the large cities where the younger generation is more focused on popular styles. Throughout Africa, however, ceremonies and rituals are still accompanied by traditional sounds. Thus authentic music is passed from generation to generation, keeping it in the genes, so to speak.