Windhoek At least 11 African musicians from Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Namibia, Gambia, Rwanda and Zambia have collaborated on a song –‘My White Army’ which was released last week.
The song which is an initiative of Merck Foundation Chief Executive Officer Rasha Kelej was released on the 1st of June to appreciate the health professionals who are at the frontline in the war against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the musicians are; Salatiel (Cameroon), A Pass (Uganda), Cwesi (Ghana), Kambua (Kenya), Mahmoud Al Leithy (Egypt, Nikki (Nigeria), Rozzy (Sierra Leone), Sean K (Namibia), Sunita (Gambia), Tom Close (Rwanda) and Wezi (Zambia).
In a statement, Kalej said the song is a gesture to express gratitude to the health workers across the globe who are risking exposure to the virus so that everyone else can stay home and stay healthy.
“I am very proud that I have been able to coordinate, direct and produce this gesture of support across 11 African countries through the 11 talented singers in three languages- Arabic, English and French. They have amazing voices and great diversity; and are from countries in North, South, East and West Africa.
It was very difficult especially during the lockdown, but they were all super cooperative and we finally did it together,” said Kalej.
“Salatiel the famous Cameroonian singer who sang with American Beyoncé and Pharrell in the latest ‘Lion King’ movie sang his part in French, and so did Tom Close. Both of them represent African French speaking countries. Mahmoud AL Leithy, who is also an actor sang his part in Arabic representing African Arabic speaking countries. The rest of the group who are famous singers in their own countries, sang in English.”
She said although she directed and produced the song, the lyrics and music writer was done by Cwesi from Ghana.
Kelej said the gesture to produce the song was her personal contribution towards the response to COVID-19 which is in line with her personal initiative ‘Separated but Connected’.
She added, “I strongly believe, it is important for the people on the front line; doctors, nurses and health workers to know how grateful we are. I don’t want this to be a once-off thank you, but one that becomes a regular act of gratitude across our communities. I have heard stories of horrible behavior against our health workers, such as, landlords are forcefully evicting them due to paranoia that they might spread COVID -19. It is shocking, illegal and inhuman behavior”.
Besides producing a song as a personal contribution to the COVID-19 response; Kelej through Merck Foundation has also responded to the pandemic in Africa through working together with 18 African First Ladies in four main focus areas which include: supporting the livelihood of thousands of casual workers and women during the lockdown; launching of “Stay at Home’ Media Recognition Awards, launching an inspiring children storybook ‘Make the Right Choice’ to sensitize children and youth about Coronavirus, and building healthcare capacity through providing online one year diploma for African doctors in Respiratory medicines and Acute Medicines.
While many know her just as a CEO of Merck Foundation, Kelej has previous experience in production and presenting television programs in Abu Dhabi TV. She has also produced many documentaries with the aim to break the stigma around infertile women and empower women and girls in education in Africa and Asia.