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Africa Watch: Beyoncé’s 'Lion King' soundtrack, Sudanese Women and Equality in So Africa

By Jehron Muhammad | Last updated: Jul 23, 2019 - 10:35:27 AM

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Beyoncé Knowles-Carter Images: Youtube
Beyoncé just might be the necessary ingredient to rocket Afrobeats into the mainstream U.S. music scene. Afrobeats is a music genre involving a combination of elements of West African musical styles, funk and jazz influences, with a focus on chanted vocals, complex intersecting rhythms and percussion.

According to Quartz Africa, Disney is set to release “The Lion King” soundtrack, produced by Beyoncé and packed with Afrobeats artists including: Yemi Alade, Tekno, Mr. Eazi, Burna Boy and Wizkid. The singer, who lends her voice to the character Nala in the movie, has even called the soundtrack “a love letter to Africa.”

Beyoncé, who in recent years has produced music that takes you on a journey into Black identity and culture said, “I wanted to make sure we found the best talent from Africa and not just use some of the sounds and did my interpretation of it. I wanted it to be authentic to what is beautiful about the music in Africa,” she said in an interview with ABC News.

Her new song, “Spirit”, opens with resonant voices trading call and responses. Over rich piano, orchestral melodies and choir-tipped choruses, Beyoncé sings her uplifting verses about resilience. “Rise up to the light in the sky, yeah,” she sings. “Watch the light lift your heart up/Burn your flame through the night.”

Historic book to recognize exceptional African women

According to, the African Union Commission and United Nations Office to the African Union, are calling for nominations of African women who have exceptionally advanced the women, peace and security agenda in Africa. The African women will be featured in an upcoming commemorative book set to be launched in 2020. The commemorative book initiative is part of activities for the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

At least 20 African women will be featured in this historic book. It will include a chapter dedicated to each woman and sharing her story or contribution to either of the four pillars of Resolution 1325 including: prevention, protection, participation and/or relief and recovery as part of the peace and security activities they’re involved in on the African continent.

The book also aims to send a message of encouragement to women across the continent and in the rest of the world, by reflecting the exceptional stories and contributions of African women to peace and security on the continent and serve as a learning experience and motivation to other women, especially young women involved in mediation, peace-building and peacekeeping activities.

The commemorative book will be launched at the margins of the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of State and Government of the African Union (AU Summit), scheduled for February 2020 at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This will also align with the launch of the African Union theme of the year 2020 on Silencing the Guns by 2020.

Sudanese women want representation in power sharing accord

Sudan’s ruling generals known as the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and an alliance of opposition civilian groups on July 18 signed an accord creating a transitional power-sharing body. This followed weeks of negotiations and deadly protests, which included the massacre of 137 sit-in participants, with hundreds more wounded, outside the Khartoum based military command center. 

The 22-clause accord, seen by Al-Jazeera, says the 11-member government body will rule the country for just over three years, after which elections will be held.

The generals seem to have the upper hand. The body will consist of six civilians, including five from the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) and five soldiers from the TMC. The body will be headed by a general during the first 21 months of the transition, followed by a civilian for the remaining 18 months.  

Women’s rights activist Manal Bashir, who helped mobilize women during the protests that led to the power-sharing deal, says now is the time for women to speak up for their rights.

“We had been oppressed, discriminated within our homes, at the regulations even so we found ourselves lacking behind and we were aware about this status. So, we didn’t leave this status behind, but we worked a lot to achieve the change in our lives,” Ms. Bashir told Voice of America.

Activist Naimat Abubaker Mohammed says under former Sudan president Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir’s rule, women were afraid to speak up because the environment was not safe for anyone, male or female, to be active in opposition parties.

“It is good that the agreement mentions some percentage for women, be it 30 percent or 40 percent, so there is a good signal that women will be given a quota, but it is important to fill this quota with quality representation,” Abubaker told the publication.

Gender and racial income inequity on the rise in South Africa

Not only did the London-based, multinational professional and business services network, Price Waterhouse Coopers Inc., report that 85.9 percent of CEOs in South African companies are White, followed by 10.2 percent Black and 2.2 percent Indian or Asian, but women CEOs only make up 3.3 percent of companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

To add insult to injury, the network also showed that South African men in healthcare are paid roughly 28.1 percent more than women, and 25.1 percent more in media and in retail outlets. In the technology industry, men are paid 22.9 percent more, and 21.8 percent more in the financial sector.  

“To bring about real change, companies should not address gender parity and diversity concerns merely to appease individuals or organizations but should rather treat these initiatives as being essential components in their long-term success,” said Anelisa Keke, senior manager and editor of the Price Waterhouse Coopers PwC report.

But is that possible with South Africa’s inequalities getting progressively worse?

According to a 2018 World Bank report, “Overcoming poverty and inequality in South Africa,” its top-earning (mostly White) income earners make five times more than the average (Black) low skilled job earners. That disparity, reported Quartz Africa, has created two economies, one White and the other mostly Black, in a majority Black country.

The report also says that no post-Apartheid South African economic policies have been able to find a balance between job creation and economic growth.

“While the report shows inequality is most pronounced in the labor market—through income, education and, skills—it is impossible to remove contemporary circumstances from the country’s history. Inequality and its effects still disproportionately affect Black South Africans, especially women. While some previously disenfranchised may have escaped poverty, the country’s inability to create jobs and find a sustainable solution means the ranks of the impoverished are swelling far faster than those able to climb out,” reported Quartz Africa.