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Posts Tagged ‘music’

8 goals for Africa

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

The ‘8 GOALS FOR AFRICA’ song is part of an awareness and advocacy campaign developed by the United Nations in South Africa on the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The MDGs are an eight-point road map with measurable targets and clear deadlines for improving the lives of the world´s poorest people. They make up the Millennium Declaration, which was an historic promise made by 189 world leaders in 2000. Ten years later our leaders are meeting again on 20 September in New York to review the progress, it is up to us to make sure world leaders keep their promise.

The ‘8 GOALS FOR AFRICA’ music video will be screened throughout the Football World Cup. On the day of the finals, all 8 artists will come together to sing the song in a live performance at the Soccer City Fan Fest in Johannesburg.

For more information about this campaign go to

On the ‘who should i cheer for’ website you can compare the teams according to their level of social and environmental responsibility.’

‘Who should I cheer for’

Speak out! Be heard!

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Su’Ad Muse


Photo by Coc@ CC

Raising awareness about issues in our communities, and around the world, is one the most powerful ways we can make a difference and create change. Dr Phil, our favourite TV psychologist, famously said “you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge”. But you can’t acknowledge what you don’t know. So change needs to begin with knowledge. All it takes is one person to speak out and spread the word.

And, young people all over the world have done just that. First, they focused on the issues they were passionate about: from climate change poverty and domestic violence, to sustainability, education and conflict. Then, using their talents and doing what they love most, they found creative ways, such as music, dance and film to get their message across. These young people did not rest until they were heard loud and clear. Most importantly, no matter what anyone said, they refused to be silenced.

The beat of change
“Through music we changed our reality.” AfroReggae member Anderson Sa

From the favelas (slums) of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, in the midst of racism, poverty, gang warfare and drugs, there came a beat - a beat of change and new beginnings. In 1993, police gunned down 21 innocent people to avenge the deaths of three murdered cops. A group of young friends reacted and decided that enough was enough. They understood that fighting back with sticks and stones was not the way. As young as they were, they knew that violence only leads to more violence. A new way of bringing about change, that would make people listen, was needed.


Photo by Megan Cole CC

Music was their answer and so AfroReggae was born. The favela was a place of poverty; they had no instruments, no teachers, no money, nothing. But that didn’t stop them. With whatever they could find, trash cans, bottles, tins, they played their music. AfroReggae was as much a social movement as they were a musical sensation. Their music was funky and fresh, but most importantly it carried a message. It was a medium to show the true realities of favela life and make political statements.   

AfroReggae didn’t only make music. The group strongly believed youth needed to be educated to stop the cycle of drug trafficking and violence. Right from the beginning, using music and dance, they set up projects and programmes to show young people that they had opportunities in life. Alongside youth, AfroReggae also worked to unify the favela and making it a safer environment. They exposed corrupt cops, staged talks with drug lords and held free and regular concerts in the favela, bringing the people together not just to entertain them, but empower them.

They did all this with the determination to create change pushing them forward. And with their plastic drums and rubbish cans they slowly started to gain momentum. So much so that, in 2000, the group signed an international record deal. Staying true to their cause, AfroReggae vowed to put their earning from their record deal back into there projects. They have now expanded globally with a strong UK partnership and over 3000 young people in Rio participating in music, dance, theatre and circus programmes. What started as a simple beat is now a global rhythm. Indeed, through music they changed their reality.

The dusty foot philosopher
K’naan Warsame, a Canadian musician, originally came from Mogadishu, Somalia. Somalia, a land of past poets and present trouble-makers, was once an African success story, but, since 1991, it has been ravaged by an on-going civil war. Like thousands of young Somalis, K’naan fled the country with his family as a teen and headed for the US, later relocating to Canada.


Photo by Luiza CC

Witnessing the horrors of the conflict first hand, K’naan knew the power of weaponry. But in a strange country so far away from home, he discovered a weapon more powerful than any semi-automatic machine gun - the weapon of speech. Intrigued by the art of rapping (and the spoken word) and with a desire to speak out against the plight of his people, K’naan used speech to convey his messages.

His first performance was a daring piece before the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 1999 criticising the UN’s involvement, or lack of, in war-torn Somalia. The UN isn’t used to being told off by a kid, but they listened and even invited him back! In the audience that day was Senegalese singer, Youssou N’Dour, who was so impressed by K’naan that he offered him the chance to contribute to his upcoming album AND to join his world tour! All this from getting up and having the courage to speak your mind. From there, K’naan went on to develop as an artist and established himself as a force to be reckoned with his widely praised debut album ‘The dusty foot philosopher’ in 2005.

But K’naan never forgot where he came from. Like his first performance K’naan wanted his music to have meaning; as he puts it, he creates “urgent music with a message”. Music has long been used as a means of raising awareness due to its universal appeal. And in the technological age we live in, music can be used to reach more and more people. K’naan uses the power of music to draw the attention of people from all walks of life and enlighten them about the atrocities happening in his motherland. His lyrics are vivid and his audience sees, as much as they hear, what he’s talking about.

K’naan has captivated audiences from all over the world, from Geneva to New York, and continues to spread his message and raise awareness. He doesn’t let anyone suppress his views. He speaks out for what he believes in and through his music gets others to listen.


Once you have decided on the cause or the issue that most concerns you, raising awareness doesn’t have to be a daunting task.

  • It can be as simple as talking about local and global issues with your friends and family.
  • You could join or start a club in your school/community such as an Amnesty International group, which looks at a range of issues from conflict to human right abuses.
  • For the more daring, activist concerts and free gigs are always big hits. You could look at getting your local youth council to host it and could feature local musicians and young talent.
  • To reach a wider audience, get more ideas and/or share your successes with other young people, submit articles, videos and pod-casts to the Just Focus website.


Borrow the DVD Favela Rising from the Global Focus Aotearoa library

Photo on previous page by Coc@ CC

This article was originally published in the Global Focus pages of Tearaway Magazine.

Music for Change radio show

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009
The JW team, Kfm DJ Big Music and Jennie

The JW team, with Kfm DJ Big Music and Jennie

In August the Just Write team got together and recorded a live radio show at Kfm, on Karangahape Rd in Auckland. They focused on the power of music to challenge, encourage and create positive change.

Music for Change Part 1

Maddie and Meredith start the show with Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech, and Own Two Hands, by Ben Harper.

Music for Change Part 2
Check out the Kfm International bulletin, with local reporter Pere Wihongi and international correspondant Su’Ad Muse, featuring What’s Hardcore? by K’Naan and Affroreggae’s Urbanos Conflictos.

Music for Change Part 3

Djs Drizzle and Jizzle look at how music is used to raise awareness about social issues with Little Weapon by Lupe Fiasco and Welcome to the Terrordome by Public Enemy.

Music for Change Part 4
Joy and Tom look at how we (NZ) are tackling climate change…. and they are a bit worried! I got so much trouble on my mind, by Sir John Quarterman.

Pere Wihongi recording the Kfm International Bulletin

Pere recording the Kfm International Bulletin

Music for Change Part 5
Join Cassie and Nick on The Stars and Stripes Show, featuring Ritchie Haven and Freedom, Bob Marley with Fussing and Fighting, and I n I, by Katchafire.

Music for Change Part 6
Maddie and Meredith wrap it up with Hope, Fat Freddies Drop.

Missy Higgins talks about extreme global poverty

Monday, August 24th, 2009

You can go to the Global Poverty Project website to see videos  from people who have seen the 1.4 Billion Reasons presentation. See the Just Focus events page for current New Zealand tour dates of the presentation. To R.S.V.P. to an event you can go directly to the Global Poverty Project events page.


another world is possible

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Published by -

This is a CD with 15 tracks from bands such as  Massive Attack, Moby, Manu Chao and the Asian Dub Foundation & Zebda. It also has introductions in 6 European languages, from people at the forefront of the discussion on Globalisation.

mall_photoIn English Noam Chomsky talks about the so-called boom of the 90’s, and Naomi Klein points out how uniform we can become when we buy into brands.

The introductions are not repeated in all languages so good luck with the ones you don’t know!

You can join our library and get books and DVDs out for Free!

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

By Jeff Chang - introduction by DJ Kool Herc
hiphop_photo2This book charts the rise of hip-hop activism as well as the commercialisation of the music; and the clash between the two. It profiles the lives and influences of “the trinity of hip-hop music”–Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, and DJ Kool Herc–along with many other artists, label executives, DJs, writers, filmmakers, and promoters. Chang also traces 30 years of the history of the DJs, MCs, b-boys, graffiti art, Black Nationalism, groundbreaking singles and albums, and the street parties that gave rise to a genuine movement.

You can join our library and get books and DVDs out for Free!

Kowtow Clothing

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Who are they?

Kowtow is 100% organic fairtrade clothing.. but they are also much more! Kowtow produce fantastic CDs from local and up-and-coming artists, which come free with every t-shirt you buy.

How can I be involved?

Buy a t-shirt! - they are 100% organic fairtrade, and the designs are just rad

Send them your music - they may be interested in throwing it on their next CD!

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Go to the GREENGORILLA website to check out other episodes and activities

Turn it up day

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Go to the GREENGORILLA website to check out other episodes and activities

The PYF: Pākehā reflections on a Pacific gathering

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

Lyndon Burford
welcome to tahitiThe inaugural Pacific Youth Festival was a phenomenal gathering. Held in Tahiti from the 17th to 22 July 2006, it was a veritable showcase of cultural diversity, exchange, and open-minded enquiry. It was a vehicle for celebration, learning and sharing, and as ever with new learning, there was the challenge of stepping out of old comfort zones and seeing the world in a new light.
The Festival was a week of song, dance, cultural exchange, and also a week of politics. A thousand young people from 25 countries across the Pacific (plus France!), ranging in age from 16 to 30, came together in Tahiti to discuss 4 themes of key importance to the Pacific Region; Equitable Globalisation, Conditions for Peace, and Cultural Diversity. The goal of the festival was to create a Pacific Youth Charter, a guiding document to establish a set of common hopes, values, and goals for Pacific Youth. For myself personally, the Pacific Youth Festival was a chance to reflect on my own culture and identity, and to think about my place both in the Pacific and in Aotearoa.

After a day acclimatising (and yes, checking out the warm Pacific waters!) the Pacific Youth Festival began in earnest. The Festival was structured around small group (20-50 people!) workshops and conferences’ (presented by panels of guest speakers) which ran from 8.30 till 5.30 every day. There was cultural performance every evening, in which we were treated to the great richness of the Pacific’s cultural heritage. There were performance groups from as far abroad as Belau (Palau) and the North Marianas in the West, and Rapanui (Easter Island) in the East. Each had its own unique rhythms and styles, and each brought spirit and character to the Festival. All in all, the days were packed full of learning, laughter, song, and dialogue.
discussion in workshop
Peace and Non-violent Conflict Resolution Workshop
NZ’s professional contribution to the Festival was a workshop on “Peace and Non-violent Conflict Resolution”. This was created and presented by Annie Boanas of the Peace Foundation Wellington, with assistance from Eva Lawrence of the Global Education Centre in Wellington, and from myself. The workshop was run in three phases. The first phase encouraged people to consider what peace meant to them personally. Following this, we proposed a definition of peace as more than just the absence of violence, suggesting that it is the result of a positive, non-violent effort towards the building of a culture of peace. This requires dialogue at all levels, in order to deal with the root causes of conflict. The second section of the workshop gave participants time to consider specific issues related to Peace, through discussion of questions such as:

  • What threatens peace in the Pacific?
  • What do you think your culture has particularly to offer to help create peace?
  • How can people build peaceful relationships at a personal level?

Finally, participants were invited to share a peace “success story”: a personal story, or one that inspired them, in which peace was created through the application of non-violent means of conflict resolution. At the end of the workshop, attendees were offered a “Take Action” worksheet, detailing specific personal action that can be taken in their own communities to help develop a culture of peace (this was developed a few years ago by several young peaceworkers involved with the Disarmament and Security Centre in Christchurch). After a heartfelt hour of sharing, the young delegates left with a sense of hope and inspiration, along with concrete examples of people working for peace, and peace working.

Politics in Tahiti - and at the Festival
Politics also played a large part in the week’s proceedings, however. From the opening ceremony, we were exposed to a political battle that had been raging since long before we arrived — between the pro-French civil authorities and the pro-independence government of French Polynesia.
oscar temaru
In his welcome address to the assembled Pacific Youth, the pro-independence President Oscar Temaru invited delegates to redress the injustice of the festival’s agenda that completely ignored the subjects of and independence. This challenge was taken up by two young NZ delegates, Charmaine Clark and Omar Hamed, who ran an excellent workshop on Decolonisation with Justice” at the end of the week. This was attended by delegates, media, MPs, independence advocates, as well as by the small French delegation, who had their own assumptions about the place of France in the Pacific challenged over the course of the festival. (They were growled at by the French authorities for their active in the workshop). In closing his welcome speech, Temaru stated that it was forbidden to speak the indigenous Maohi language in the French Polynesian parliament, which, although not true, does reveal a legitimate grievance of the indigenous people, in that the Maohi language is not an official language of parliament or state. Temaru’s confrontational stance at the opening ceremony saw the French Government’s representative walk out in protest, and reply with an equally confrontational outburst in the media the following day. Such was the political atmosphere in which the week unrolled.

The Politics of the Pacific Youth Charter

This political struggle also played out among the youth themselves. Each day, a Charter Drafting Committee, consisting of one member from each delegation, met to draft resolutions regarding the issues discussed that day. To the surprise of all, a young French delegate joined the Committee, taking an active role at the right hand of the Tahitian delegate, who had unilaterally declared himself Chair of the Committee. This was symptomatic of a lack of that was a constant frustration at the Festival; a young Frenchman was invited by the local French authorities to negotiate and vote on a Pacific Youth Charter, without any discussion of the matter with other Pacific delegates.
houses in tahiti
The issue came to a head in the middle of the week, when President Temaru invited the Charter Drafting Committee to an evening reception. In a vote split 11-10, the French representative held the crucial deciding vote that saw the young delegates refuse this invitation from a head of state. At this point, several delegates, including the NZ’s delegate, left the meeting to attend the reception. They pointed out, quite rightly, that it was inappropriate to snub an invitation from a head of state, particularly as the Committee had accepted an invitation from the French High Commissioner the night before. The following day, the Committee voted overwhelmingly to remove France’s right to vote on the Charter committee. Nevertheless, resolutions proposed by the NZ delegation relating to nuclear disarmament somehow fell off’ the agenda, and were entirely absent in the final draft Charter. The fallout of French nuclear testing in the Pacific still affects the region today.

A new perspective: Aotearoa in the Pacific
There was valuable learning for many Kiwis in observing the process of drafting the Pacific Youth Charter. As Kiwis, we are used to thinking of NZ as a small state, while Pacific Islanders in dialogue with us see themselves as the small state, and Aotearoa as large state or regional power’. The new perspective gained in the Charter process offered us insight into Aotearoa’s role/place in the Pacific Community. This influential role brings with it responsibility; to exercise our power wisely, in the interest of the wider Pacific Community, not simply to pursue our own self-interest.

Thinking regionally
A Pacific Youth Charter sometimes required that we put aside our own interests, and put on our regional thinking cap - human rights issues are a good example. Currently, Fiji, Australia, and NZ are the only Pacific countries that have Commissions. However, for many countries in the Pacific, recognition of the even the most basic human rights remains an urgent priority. Sometimes, it was frustrating to see relatively watered down’ concepts making their way into the final document, but for other countries, the mere mention of universal Human Rights in an official document is a great leap forward.

Cultural awakenings
International considerations aside, what are my lasting personal impressions of the Pacific Youth Festival? In a sense, I had a wake up call reminiscent of that of many Pākehā who were involved in the 1981 Springbok tour protests. Having been confronted with persisting French colonial influences in Tahiti, I have been forced to consider, as a Pākehā , my place in Aotearoa-NZ. Through dialogue with the Māori members of our delegation, I was also confronted with the reflection that my own land is not as peaceful as I had chosen to believe.
The current political debate around the removal from NZ legislation of references to the Principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in NZ is a good example. Pākehā seem uncertain as to what they believe the Principles are and what they mean in legal terms. But rather than engage in a genuine contemplation of the Principles, Winston Peters has proposed simply removing all reference to them, thus erasing from NZ law most references to our founding document. This threatens to further provoke already disillusioned Māori, who quiet rightfully would see such a move as de-valuing the historical document through which they agreed to Pākehā settlement in Aotearoa. As one Māori member of our delegation noted, where Māori are looking to Pākehā to support a just and fair society, the deletion of the only legally binding mentions of the Treaty in NZ law does not set a good example.
cultural performance
I’m a Pakeha New Zealander. What is that?
As we proposed in our Peace and Conflict Resolution workshop, peace requires constant nurturing through open and honest dialogue. So finally, I am left with this question: what do I bring to an intercultural dialogue with the Tangata Whenua of this land?
What do I know about the Treaty of Waitangi that afforded my ancestors entry to Aotearoa-NZ? More even than that, what do I know about my ancestors? Having been presented with the wealth of Pacific culture, of which Māori culture is a rich and unique part, I have been faced with a slightly unsettling question, in so far as the answer is not immediately clear: what is my culture? What is the richness of Pakeha culture? This is both the challenge and the reward of the Pacific Youth Festival for me; to take the time for some genuine reflection on who I am, where I come from, and what it means for me to be a Pākehā in a Pacific land. And in this challenge there is a new sense of hope. For in rediscovering my own history, I may be able to play a small part in healing the history of this land.

Many thanks to the Peace and Disarmament Education Trust, the Disarmament and Security Centre, and the Quakers Peace and Service Trust, who helped fund this fabulous learning experience.


Peace Movement Aotearoa
The Disarmament and Security Centre
The Peace Foundation
Global Bits magazine, Who are You? The Search for Self in the Global Village


  • Read the guide What We Can Do For Peace, put together by Youth at the Disarmament and Security Centre, Otautahi, Christchurch, NZ

Photos all by Lyndon Burford.