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Bongo Flava: Boosting East Africa’s Creative Economy

In attempts to meet an estimated 68 million jobs needed by 2020 in the Greater Horn of East Africa (Somalia, Sudan Ethiopia, Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Eritrea, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo), The Aga Khan University of Arts and Sciences (AKU FAS) is working on boosting the creative economy through a new university in Tanzania.

“East Africa’s creative industries – music, fashion, art, theatre and film – remain relatively modest in size and renown when compared to the West or South African industries. There is almost no data on the number and quality of jobs generated by the creative economy in the region, but anecdote suggests that it is an important source of livelihoods for many artists and others in the value chain which their art supports (producers, distributors, etc).

“AKU FAS University () is developing a unique curriculum to equip students with the knowledge and skills to drive the further development of the region’s creative economy. The course is anticipated to be offered from 2016 when the new campus formally opens in Arusha, Tanzania. The long-range impact on job creation of the creative economy programme can only be guessed at. “

Implications from Institute for the Future:

Although East Africa has not been known for its musical talents, falling into the shadows of well known West African and South African musicians, Tanzania is the home of Bongo Flava a unique and increasingly popular music mixing American hip hop style with East African sounds and languages. Bongo Flava’s smart fusion of Western and East African sounds with its penchant for discussing political and social issues makes its global potential undeniable. Placing the new University in Arusha, a hot bed for Bongo Flava is a good sign, and the beginning of a new global trend. Bongo Flava could be the new Reggaeton (A Panamenian Reggae that has spread to the rest of the world).

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Society for International Development, July 2010 pg. 6

Bongo Flava:

Music by Ali Kiba (perhaps the most popular Bongo Flava artist)

Image Source and Music by artist Lady Jay Dee: