- Title: Poets in Burkina Faso rally youths to plant trees
- Date: 19th August 2021
- Summary: BOBO-DIOULASS, BURKINA FASO (RECENT) (REUTERS) MAN PLAYING TRADITIONAL AFRICAN STRING INSTRUMENT, CALLED 'NGONI' MAN BOBS HIS HEAD ALONG WITH THE MUSIC AFRIKAN'DA POETRY GROUP MEMBER, MOULAY RACHID STANDING IN STUDIO, READING LYRICS FROM HIS PHONE OVER THE MUSIC
- Embargoed: 2nd September 2021 12:20
- Keywords: Burkina Faso art climate change desertification entertainment environment music poetry tree planting
- Location: BOBO-DIOULASSO, BURKINA FASO AND KUINIMA FOREST, BURKINA FASO
- City: BOBO-DIOULASSO, BURKINA FASO AND KUINIMA FOREST, BURKINA FASO
- Country: Burkina Faso
- Topics: Africa,Environment
- Reuters ID: LVA001EQY3XW7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: From inside a neon-lit studio in Burkina Faso's second-largest city, a group of poets hatch a plan to combat climate change by doing what they do best - putting words to music.
"Due to the ecological and geo-climatic disruption. Let us expect the disappearance of several animal species. Man is a passionate destroyer," Moulaye Rachid spits into a microphone.
In 2012, Rachid and three friends from the city of Bobo-Dioulasso founded the slam poetry collective 'Afrikan'da' - meaning 'African Voices' in the local Bambara language.
They've performed throughout the region since then, having released three albums and two extended plays of poems that aim to raise awareness of social issues ranging from conflict to climate change.
Today, the poets of Afrikan'da are recording 'Hot Earth', a track they hope will educate youths in Bobo-Dioulasso about why they must work together to halt the desert's steady advance into the Sahel.
"Making a song to raise awareness of reforestation is very necessary for us today, because we are launching an educational programme through our art called 'Art That Educates'. We educate through our songs, through our writings. And the song can carry the message that we would like a long way. And we really wish that this song would travel throughout the world, to sensitize more than one person on the current condition of life, of nature and the ecosystem in general," Rachid said.
After years of trial and error, Rachid says that the best place to reach local youths is at one of the city's myriad tea shops, where people of all ages gather to discuss anything from religion, to politics to love.
"The tea shop, for us, is a place where many people of different ages gather and there are young people who talk about many subjects. We thought that our subject could interest them, and enable them to bring more to our ideas. So, we're still working to raise awareness at many tea shops across the city, and as we go along, we'll be able to reach our goals a little bit. Reforestation is something we really care about and every year we try to reach as many people as possible from tea shops across the city," Rachid said.
When enough people had heard their message, the poets of Afrikan'da decided to act.
Rachid says that the group routinely visits nearby forests that have been hit particularly hard by desertification.
Last Sunday, Afrikan'da recruited more than two dozen young people to join them for a trip to the nearby Kuinima Forest to fight back the desert directly.
By the end of the day, the group had planted more than 200 trees. For the poets of Afrikan'da, that's music to their ears.
"Burkina Faso is a Sahelian country, and it is necessary that we as young people work to green our country, quite simply. It is what motivated us at this scale to put plants in the ground to fight against this desertification," said Bony Lanky, another member of Afrikan'da.
(Thiam Ndiaga, Media Coulibaly, Cooper Inveen)
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