When I first came across Noah’s record, it wasn’t long before I was pinging the YouTube link around the office to colleagues. I won’t lie, it was mainly because he was wearing a T-shirt with “#YouthPower” on and I was excited that a campaign that we had devised here at Restless was now featuring in a Tanzanian Hip Hop video.
But there was another reason I was excited too. I’m a big believer in what we describe here at Restless as ‘Lifestyle’ communications. What do I mean by this? Well I mean culture, music, sport and all the things that make our young lives interesting. I believe we can use all of these things to help change the world in small and big ways. By disrupting people’s every day lives and getting them to make connections between what they’re already interested in and the bigger issues – we can engage a far bigger group of people than the self-selected global citizens already doing good work.
Noah’s “Kura Yako” project is a prime example of what Restless means by Lifestyle communications. He may not have known it by name at the time, but he understood the approach:
“After seeing the low vote turn out in previous general election of 2010, it made me feel that I have to do something for my country,” Noah said.
“We used art to educate young people. It is very important to use things like music to help in political engagement. Since music can speak more than just words, it is easier for young people to catch the message from the music rather than some one speaking.”
The name of the song “Kura Yako” (Swahili for “Your Vote”) was designed to directly educate somebody who came across the song and they used the video to dramatically illustrate other issues too such as corruption. But music is not only an effective tool for communicating a message, it also has great reach. He continued:
“Young people are big fans of music so by using music, we knew we could catch their attention.”
He certainly did catch their attention. A report estimates that through a combination of digital, TV and radio hits he reached over 3 million people in Tanzania (or 3,328,796 to be exact). I asked him if any young people had approached him about the song:
“Yes, its true many young people approached me and some were congratulating me for a such amazing election song. Not only young but even adult people and some few elders told that I did a very good thing for my nation.That made me feel better.”
Making a hit means that Noah generated other opportunities to get his message across too. During interviews on major TV and Radio stations, he was able to educate young people on the process, their rights and responsibilities as citizens, encourage young people to register, and take part in the elections in other roles too such as monitors and candidates.
But the most important part to him was getting young people out to vote:
“The most wonderful moment I had after the general election was seeing the high vote turn out in 2015 compared to the previous election of 2010. That made me feel good and think that my music has brought a positive contribution to the election and to my nation.”
So what about the future, can we expect any more politically motivated hits from Noah?:
“I am in the process of doing a song carrying the Youth Power message so it can be used as a tool of awareness raising in the Youth Power campaign, I will let you know when the track is in my hand ready!”
Watch this space. For now, check out the Kura Yako video: