Angelique Kidjo and co win the ‘Ambassador of Conscience Award’


In Winner and Losers, we at Continental Radio Station, CRS, highlight and salute the achievements of both individuals, groups or institutions that standout either through extraordinary efforts or putting their lives on the line.

In the same breath, we lampoon the follies of individuals or leaders who have in one way of the other let themselves or their people down through their acts.

                                        Winners of the week.

Our winner of the week is Angelique Kidjo and the African Youth Activist Groups who has just won the Ambassador of Conscience Award.

Angelique Kidjo and the Y’en mare group, winners of the Ambassador of Conscience Award

The Award aims to promote the work of Amnesty International by association with the life, work and example of its ‘Ambassadors’.

Angelique Kidjo, the popular singer from Benin, who is also the UNICEF ambassador, alongside three African youth activist movements won the human rights award for their work defending freedom of expression and peaceful protest.

Announcing the awards Wednesday, the Human Rights group, Amnesty International praised Kidjo and the groups Y’en a marre (Fed Up), le Balai Citoyen (The Citizen’s Broom), and Lutte pour Changement (LUCHA) for their work in Africa and around the world.

According to Amnesty, the winners showed exceptional courage in standing up to injustice by using their talents to inspire others and further the cause of human rights.

Angelique Kidjo with one of her previous trophies
Angelique Kidjo with one of her previous trophies

Previous winners of the Ambassador of Conscience Award are Vaclav Havel, Nelson Mandela, and Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as artists Bono, Joan Baez, and Ai Wei Wei.

The power of music.

Angelique Kidjo who now permanently lives in the US, fled her native Benin in the 1980s after being pressured to perform for the country’s authoritarian regime.

Famous before she left her homeland, she has since become world-renowned both for her music and her activism.

While recording and performing a mixture of African and U.S. influences sung in a multitude of languages, she has also worked to promote free expression, education for young women, and birth certificates for children.

According to Angelique Kidjo, music is a medium for her to disseminate her messages of freedom and human dignity.

“I can’t be in everyone’s home physically — my music will be there. And that’s the power of an artist, compared to a politician’’ Kidjo said in an interview to VOA Africa.

She added that ‘’ no one can give a speech as brilliant as what we can put on a CD.”

The Grammy winner said she does not want to be a politician, but has hope that African nations struggling with internal corruption can solve their problems through democratic means.

Kidjo said, “The day when the people — the people of Africa get up and say ‘we’re tired of this stupidity,’ it will be everyone together who will decide, not me.”

Previous winners of the 'Ambassador of Conscience Award' included Nelson Mandela pictured above
Previous winners of the ‘Ambassador of Conscience Award’ included Nelson Mandela pictured with his prize

Speaking ahead of the May 28 awards ceremony, Kidjo said the award “will energize me to stay outspoken about the crucial human rights issues of our time.”

Other laureates include a group of Senegalese rappers and journalists who encourage young people to register to vote.

The group known as Y’en a marre, or Fed Up, has been active in teaching peaceful protest methods and urging the government to implement land reforms, an issue important to the rural poor.

Burkina Faso’s le Balai Citoyen, or the Citizen’s Broom, is a grassroots movement co-founded by reggae artist Sams’K Le Jah and rapper Smockey (Serge Bambara).

The group has been active in voter education and has taught young people to speak out about political corruption and transparency.

Angelique Kidjo and other winners, we are Continental radio dot our hearts to you all. Keep flying and we support you all the way through.

Ange Ngu Thomas

Author: Ange Ngu Thomas

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