Radio Freemuse: ‘Music censorship in Africa 2008’


27 February 2008

Music censorship in Africa today

This 15 minutes radio report is produced specifically for African radio stations that wish to inform their listeners about music censorship – for instance on the occasion of the global Music Freedom Day on 3 March

Introduction to the programme (suggestion)
“If you listen carefully the next 15 minutes you will understand why we’ve decided to focus on “music and censorship” today. Let’s hear what the African musicians have to say – themselves – about this topic.
This report was prepared by Freemuse, an international organisation that advocates freedom of expression for musicians.
We start in South Africa, where the singer Roger Lucey explains what the impact of censorship is. This man has tried it – his music was censored, strictly blacklisted on the radio and banned in the CD-shops during the apartheid period in South Africa:”

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Radio manuscript


0:00 – 0:06 Music: Roger Lucey: ‘Storms & Fire’

0:06 – 0.52 Roger Lucey voice clip: “Well, its death… …If not that.”

0:52 – 1:00 Music: Roger Lucey: ‘Storms & Fire’

1:00-1:20 Studio voice-over: “Roger Lucey was one of the victims of censorship of music during apartheid. Today he takes part in international conferences on music censorship. Censorship may be a disaster for the individual artist, but for a society as such the long terms effects of censorship are even more serious, says Roger Lucey”

1:20 – 2:15 Roger Lucey voice clip: “The long terms effects of censorship… …that we should be living.”

2:15 – 2:25 Music: Roger Lucey: ‘Storms & Fire’

2:25 – 2:44 Studio voice-over: “Today neighboring country , Zimbabwe, is facing state censorship, that in its systematic use of repression and threats has many similarities with censorship during apartheid. Internationally acclaimed mbira artist Chiwoniso speaks about these issues as she is touring the world:”

2:44 – 3:25 Chiwoniso Maraire voice clip: “To beat people… …what you are doing, so: dicy!”

3:25 – 3:28 Music: Roger Lucey: ‘Storms & Fire’ (mbira section of the song)


3:28 – 3:39 Studio voice-over: “Freemuse is the only international organisation advocating freedom of expression for musicians and composers. Daniel Brown is vice-chair at Freemuse”

3:39 – 4:17 Daniel Brown voice clip: “Freemuse is… … it can be a minority”

4:17 – 4:36 Music: Rabah Donquishoot: ‘152 mesures contre la censure’ (read more about this song on

4:36 – 4:46 Studio voice-over: “Music censorship is a global phenomenon, many regimes fear the power of music says Bashar Shammout, one of the founding members of Freemuse:”

4:46 – 5:47 Bashar Shammout voice clip: “If you look into… … express themselves freely”

5:47 – 6:05 Music: Rabah Donquishoot: ‘152 mesures contre la censure’ (read more about this song on

6:05 – 6:39 Studio voice-over: “Hugh Masekela, Khaled, Miriam Makeba, Fadal Day, Remmy Ongala, Tiken Jah Fakoly, Thomas Mapfumo… the list of censored artists is far too long , well, some musicians have even been killed for voicing the frustrations of their people of simply because they have entertained the masses. Freemuse documents these violations and support musicians in their struggle. But does this have any effect at all? Freemuse chairperson Martin Cloonan says:

6:39 – 7:39 Martin Cloonan voice clip: “We’ve been going… …in writing music history”

7:39 – 8:04 Music: Rabah Donquishoot: ‘152 mesures contre la censure’ (read more about this song on


8:04 – 8:23 Studio voice-over: “Why censor music? Because music can carry messages. Governments have realised this and sometimes they themselves make use of music for their own purposes. Zimbabwe is an illustrative example of this. Journalist Maxwell Sibanda og Zimbabwe says:”

8:23 – 9:02 Maxwell Sibanda voice clip: “Music has… …began to change”

9:02 – 9:15 Music: Thomas Mapfumo: ‘Disaster’

9:15 – 10:15 Maxwell Sibanda voice clip: “People like Thomas Mapfumo… …elbowing out music”


10:15 – 10:46 Music: Fadal Dey sings a capella: ‘Bat Government’
(See video on

10:46 – 11:09 Studio voice-over: “Corruption, misrule, lack of democracy, effects of colonialism… are certainly topics wellknown from the songbooks of several African artists. This is true for Fadal Day, one of the rising stars of Côte d’Ivoire. This song was banned in his homeland because it critisised the rulers of the country for being incompetent.”

11.09 – 11.19 Fadal Dey voice clip: “Et aussi il y a des artiststes… …qui ont peur de.. eh eh eh… la situation.”

11:19 – 11:29 Studio voice-over: “There are many other artists who wish to express their views, but many artists are afraid to do so, says Fadal. So they perform selfcensorship.”

11:29 – 11:46 Music: Tiken Jah Fakoly: ‘Promesses Bla Bla’ (from the album ‘The African’, 2007)


11:46 – 12:21 Studio voice-over: “Censorship is imposed by artists not just because they are afraid of governments. A lot of selfcensorship relates to religious or cultural issues. One of the artists who continues to speak up is Freemuse Award winning artist Tiken Jah Fakoly. As one of Africa’s leading reggae artists he reaches millions of people and recently he was declared “persona non grata” – a not wished person after a concert in Senegal, where he once again played his popular song about politicians that should step down.”

12:21 – 12:39 Music: Tiken Jah Fakoly: ‘Promesses Bla Bla’ (from the album ‘The African’, 2007)

12:39 – 13:10 Tiken Jah Fakoly voice clip (recorded by Maria Arnqvist)

13:10 – 13:25 Studio voice-over: “Give up the power is the strong message from Tiken Jah Fakoly, a message that forced him into exile from his native country Côte d’Ivoire several years back, and a message that is not liked by the government of Senegal either.”

13:25 – 13:37 Music: Tiken Jah Fakoly: ‘Promesses Bla Bla’ (from the album ‘The African’, 2007)

13:37 – 13:56 Studio voice-over: “One of Africa’s most outspoken artists, Nigerian singer Fela Kuti faced censorship and persecution. He was jailed, and beaten up, but he never gave up. Today his son, Femi Kuti, is continuing the struggle for freedom of expression:”

13:56 – 14:38 Femi Kuti voice clip: “Think… … about the truth”

14:38 – 15:00 Music: Femi Kuti: ‘Beng Beng Beng’

Click here to read more about Music Freedom Day 2008

Click to read more about Music Freedom Day 2008

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