March 16, 2010 – World-renowned African music star Baaba Maal is expected to treat a section of Kenyans to an exclusive performance at the Nairobi National Museum on Wednesday to highlight the role of culture and communication in combating climate change.
Baaba Maal arrives in Nairobi on Tuesday evening to support the launch of research findings from Africa Talks Climate, a pan-African research initiative looking at people’s understanding of climate change across ten countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Music is an important way of communicating messages in Africa, so when it comes to understanding climate change, I believe people will look to the musicians,” he says.
Over 1,000 citizens from South Africa to Sudan, Kenya to Nigeria and Baaba’s native Senegal were asked about their experiences and understanding of the changing climate.
The research by the BBC World Service Trust in partnership with the British Council found that many Africans blame themselves for the changes they are witnessing, despite being least responsible for the causes. People cite local issues such as tree cutting and bush burning rather than global emissions for impacts such as drought and changes in rainfall
As an ambassador for Africa Talks Climate, Baaba Maal calls for targeted, relevant information for those most affected by climate change across the continent to help them respond to its impacts:
“It is a terrible injustice that some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people are only blaming themselves for problems that are not of their own making. They need information and they need to be heard,” says the singer.
“It has to be Africans to stand up and protect our lands first. First we need information, then we need to understand and act. We have to be at the beginning of the process,” he adds.
Baaba Maal also highlights the opportunities that media, technology and innovation offer in giving a platform for Africans to debate the issues:
“Television media in Africa is now using local languages and incorporating local culture, and as a result is becoming closer to people … we also have new technologies we can use to be connected to each other … if we continue to exchange ideas we will be much stronger” he said.
Caroline Nursey, Executive Director of the BBC World Service Trust says: “So many of the things Baaba feels passionately about we do too: increasing information access, giving people a voice, promoting education, and using the power of culture and creativity to facilitate positive change.”
Full findings from the Africa Talks Climate research will be presented on Wednesday, at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Nobel prize-winner Professor Wangari Maathai and British High Commissioner Rob Macaire.