UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador, singer and songwriter Angélique Kidjo, is expected in Sierra Leone at the end of August, on a four day visit.
Angelique Kidjo, UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador and one of Africa’s top
performing artists, Angelique is the founder of the Batonga Foundation which supports
girls’ education, including the provision of scholarships to girls in some
countries in Africa including Sierra Leone, Benin, Cameroon, and Ethiopia.
In Sierra Leone, Batonga Foundation has provided scholarships to 60 girls
in FAWE Junior Secondary School at Waterloo and a girl’s vocational training
center in Freetown that is run by Children Associated with the War (CAW).
The West African singer and songwriter is one of the most electrifying performers in the pop world today.
She is also one of its most forward thinkers, with a deep commitment to children and young people.
The UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy appointed Kidjo as a Goodwill Ambassador on 25 July 2002. “Ms. Kidjo’s global popularity and personal commitment to children will make a big difference for UNICEF and for children everywhere,”
Bellamy said Kidjo once considered a career as a human rights lawyer but decided that she could have a greater impact through her music. “I believe music is a language beyond the colour of skin, country or culture,” she says. “I want to inspire people to work to help educate, nourish and protect our children.”
In her lyrics, Kidjo has explored the topics of race, environment, homelessness and the need to integrate. But her primary concern is education. “For me, education is so crucial because everything goes with it, like healthy politics and development,” she says. “Young people are the hope of my continent. When I watch the children of Africa, all dreams seem possible.”
Kidjo first became associated with UNICEF in April 2000, when she filmed a public service announcement for the ‘Say Yes for Children’ initiative. The campaign, focusing on 10 key principles seeking to improve and protect the lives of children around the world, earned more than 94 million supporters. Now Kidjo generously offers more and more of her time to UNICEF. She joined other United Nations (UN) celebrity supporters at a gala concert for the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children in May 2002. This historic event set a new agenda for children’s health, education and protection. Kidjo appeared in a UNICEF public service announcement on child trafficking in June 2002. And in September she attended the Africa Leadership Consultation – Children on the Brink, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The consultation developed priorities for helping children and young people orphaned or otherwise affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa.
She gave a concert followed by extensive press work in Benin in October 2002, and participated in a fundraising gala concert in Finland in November.
Born in Benin, Kidjo began her singing career at the age of six. She moved to Paris because of the unstable political situation in Benin. While in Paris, she studied jazz and also attended law school. Kidjo has earned huge respect as a songwriter and performer. Her music is steeped in the tribal and pop rhythms of her West African heritage, but she has also crossed musical and national boundaries by blending a variety of styles, including funk, salsa, jazz, rumba, souk and makossa.
She has made seven albums. the latest being Black Ivory Soul, which focuses on the Brazilian connection with West Africa.