In every African country there is a national broadcaster charged with televising educational, informative, entertaining, and politically balanced programming. In almost every country in Africa this duty is never met. As a rule of thumb, national broadcasters across the continent are boring, poorly funded, terribly managed, and biased. They lag behind bigger commercial channels which provide viewers with newer, fresher, and richer content. They are the channels of last resort. Unless, of course, your parents walk into the television lounge while you are watching a scandalous Rihanna music video. That is when the national broadcaster becomes a safe house for good morality and “Oh, yeah, I was just watching the news quickly, Dad.”
(African parents never really believe the lies. But they silently praise the effort.)
Despite their shortcomings, though, local broadcasters are where numerous African artists premiere music and videos. To homegrown artists, national broadcasters are still the best way to connect with their niche audiences. They are also a good place to find memories of flickering television screens and overplayed music videos.
Any African child who grew up in the nineties and early 2000s before cable television became a ubiquitous and necessary commodity will be able to pick out a tune from The Department Of Native Affairs. There are some classic tracks from African music legends scattered throughout this compilation along with newer releases from younger artists of the current age.
The Department of Native Affairs is a playlist with total disregard for passport and immigration control. It goes wherever its beat takes it, riding in crowded matatus in downtown Nairobi, snacking on kapana in the hot Namibian sun, and pausing for a drink or two (or twenty) at a shebeen in South Africa. This compilation is full of throwback goodness with service delivery that is unmatched on the continent.
If you are in need of music that will bring a smile to your face, lighten your soul, and give you the foot-tapping goodness you need to get through a tough day at work then you need to go to The Department Of Native Affairs.
Please pass the Jollof rice when you are done listening to this playlist.
DURATION: 1 hour 19 mins (17 tracks)
MOOD: Happy; shake it up; white privilege can’t dance along to this.
NOTABLE ARTISTS: Angelique Kidjo (Black Ivory Soul; Öyö); Brenda Fasie (Brenda; Now Is The Time); Miriam Makeba (The Many Voices Of Miriam Makeba; Welela); Johnny Clegg & Savuka (Third World Child; Heat, Dust & Dreams); TKZee (Shibobo; Halloween); and Salif Keita (Destiny Of A Noble Outcast; La Difference).
Author’s note: Basically, this is every African wedding, New Year’s, and grandmother’s birthday summed up in one go.