Johannes Ebert am 21. März 2015
Music in Africa

Rede von Johannes Ebert anlässlich der Vorstellung der Online-Plattform  im Muffatwerk in München

Dear Dr. von Siemens,

Dear Dietmar Lupfer,

Dear Norbert Spitz,

Dear Eddie Hatitye,

Dear Jens Cording,

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

herzlich willkommen, welcome and good afternoon, bienvenue et bonjour à tous

It was in Johannesburg during the regional meeting of the directors of the Goethe-Instituts in Sub-Saharan Africa last year when I heard about “Music in Africa” for the very first time. The presentation there by Jens Cording and Eddie Hatitye was very impressive and gave an initial insight into the wide range of information that was planned for the Portal “Music in Africa”.

So being very curious about the results of our project, this afternoon I took a closer look at the website. I found articles about traditional dances in Mali, a video course on African drum styles as well as information about the Music Industry in Africa today and general questions of Cultural Management. An article about the actual state of Zouglou in Western Africa made me think of the time 20 years ago when I myself during my traineeship for the Goethe-Institut was working in Cote d´Ivoire for several months. I had a room in the apartment of an African family in Blockosse, a traditional quarter near the lagoon of Abidjan. We heard plenty of Soukouss Music coming from Uganda; Zouglou was just starting to become popular and there was a rich Reggae scene – Alpha Blondy being its most famous representative. There was music and dance everywhere and it makes me happy that today “Music in Africa”, a project initiated by Siemens Stiftung and the Goethe-Institut, opens up through its internet platform  new access to this wealth of African Music all over the Continent. Having said all this, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you today in the Muffathalle. It is a privilege for me to be opening this evening's event together with Dr. Nathalie von Siemens, Managing Director and Spokesperson of Siemens Stiftung.

4 years ago Siemens Stiftung approached the Goethe-Institut with a proposal to become active in Africa in the musical domain. It was soon clear that the Goethe-Institut and Siemens Stiftung had similar notions in this respect and it was possible to agree a co-operation.

By involving our network of partners the Goethe-Institut helped identify on the spot a suitable starting point for the project and subsequently it has accompanied and supported the development of an internet portal.

The aim of the project is to improve the networking of the players in the immensely rich music scene in Sub-Saharan Africa with one another and with the international music scene. The approach of creating platforms for exchanging views and establishing an understanding between local creative artists and those in other countries and Germany accords fully with Goethe-Institut's operational approach.

When it came to implementing the project we were able to rely on the dedication of those responsible at Siemens Stiftung, notably Katrin Beck and Jens Cording and the team from the Music in Africa Foundation, which was founded in 2013, especially the Foundation's Director Eddie Hatitye.

The Goethe-Institut had already collaborated successfully with Jens Cording and his team in connection with the Siemens Arts Program and developed at that time the "into" project.

But all our other partners in the region and our colleagues in Johannesburg, as well as the other participating Goethe-Instituts in Sub-Saharan Africa, have done excellent work and helped the portal to experience a dynamic development and to expand its impact steadily across the continent and internationally. I want to express my sincere gratitude to them all.

This evening we will have the opportunity to get to know Music in Africa better and also to learn something about the structures and challenges of the music scene in Sub-Saharan Africa. Amadou Fall Ba will also be taking part in the panel following this part of the proceedings. He is a cultural management alumnus from our cultural management programme and in 2011 he was a guest at Muffatwerk. It's very nice that you can be here tonight!

During the past week, in the context of the collaborative project "Dox Dajé", there have also been artistic encounters between musicians from Senegal and Munich. This programme was developed between the AfriCulturban Hip-Hop Centre, founded by Amadou Fall Ba in Dakar, and Muffatwerk, and this summer it will be resumed in Dakar. The Goethe-Institut in turn is involved in enabling artists to travel to Germany and to Senegal. It's gratifying to see that a close collaboration with a strong partner and the various project and assistance models of the Goethe-Institut are ideally interlinked.

I am very pleased to know that I will be able to experience the artists live in the course of the evening and I wish all of us an inspiring time.
Thank you.
Gehalten am 21. März 2015 in München.