By Innocent Kawooya | Mohamed Kimbugwe | Edited by Consolate Kyarikunda
In recent years, music videos have become a key tool in promoting music on the African continent. Musicians have gone out of their way to craft great videos at exorbitant sums of money, just to make a mark on the continent.
What’s important to note however, is that in their desire to craft super videos, African musicians have got lost in translation. Many have the tendency of imagining that good videos must be plastic; filled with posh cars, classy houses, prop dollars and sexy girls.
In so doing, these musicians overlook the fact that our music videos can always embrace and explore the beauty of Africa. These videos can embrace both the natural and urban faces of Africa and still be great videos.
What they fail to realize is that the world out there is not looking for African videos that can mirror Hollywood, but rather those that bring out the best of Africa, including its uniqueness and identity. That world is looking for the best of Africa.
Talking of uniqueness, Eddy Kenzo’s Sitya Loss is a perfect example. There’s not a single car or house in there; not one sexy girl or one prop dollar note, yet the video went viral world over. Therein lay questions we must ask ourselves, find the answers and learn lessons.
Additionally, therein lay a fact that a typically African video can attract even more attention than those plastic videos that a lot of musicians tend to focus on. Unless you intend to use girls from mars or drive cars on their backs, there’s nothing about plastic videos that the world has not seen.
Besides, that places you in direct competition with international musicians who have mastered the art of plastic videos and you end up looking like a cheap copy of the same. There’s so much about Africa that we can embrace and still craft world class videos.
Look at African Choreography as a simple example. Africa is endowed with a variety of dance styles that no one can exhaust. Every single African country has hundreds of them and they can take on hundreds of forms and variations.
You don’t have to present them in their local raw form. Your choreographers can have them twisted and given a unique urban feel that will give a music fan anywhere in the world a memorable viewing experience.
We must show the world that we are not mere copycats trying to feed on everything that the Western world does. For God’s sake, we are a continent of good dances and dancers and we must focus on renovating our own dances and marketing them to the world.
That will give African music videos a touch of freshness and uniqueness; and place them favorably on the international market. We can complement our choreography, costumes and props that have African themes.
There are on the market, creative fashion designers and stylists that give African costumes a modern feel, good enough to wow a music fan anywhere in the world. Let’s focus on African beauty, identity and greatness; and our music videos will be special.
Africa is also blessed with a variety of beautiful scenery that we have no business shooting our music videos in the confines of the living rooms of a house you consider comfy! Take a quick example of Bebe Cool’s Love You Every day and you’ll appreciate what the African outdoors can offer.
From beautiful skies to panoramic savannahs and aesthetic woods; from the lakes and rivers to the waterfalls and game parks, Africa is an outdoor gem that musicians haven’t bothered to explore in crafting their music videos.
You see, you can bring couches from Venus, inside a living room from Mars and that will not look as beautiful as the African scenery. Go out there and explore what no other musician in the world has easy access to!
It is all out there, right before us but we do not know what to do with it. Bebe Cool’s Love You Every day explores African scenery and no music fan anywhere in the world can resist that kind of beauty! We must explore and exploit it.
Africa is also blessed with the kind of weather that enhances the beauty of the scenery. Imagine the beauty an African sunset has to offer on a warm day! Imagine the sun setting over a lake or over a mountain!
Imagine the beauty of the African skies on a seemingly cool and rainy day! A rainbow, beautiful birds gathering at a lakeside before or after the rain, a spring flowing through a semi-arid expanse or how beautiful some African deserts can look with all those sand dunes oases!
We’ve got so much beauty before us, as well as endless options for exploiting it in our music videos; yet we never focus on that all. Our videos can’t continue to be plastic when we have all African scenery and variety. Let’s find a way of depicting both the African nature and African urban lifestyles in African music videos.