Song for Africa (SFA) is a Canadian non-profit organization founded in 2006 by music and movie producer Darcy Ataman. The organization is founded on the belief that music has the power to create sustainable change in the developing world. It specializes in giving people the opportunity to give a voice to their struggles and trauma. Participants in the Song for Africa Music Enrichment Program learn how to write, perform, produce, and disseminate their music on the local radio. Song for Africa is currently working in Kenya, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In the spring of 2006 several Canadian musicians came together to write and record the single Song for Africa to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic in Africa. Following the premiere at the International AIDS Conference in Toronto, the non-profit organization ‘Song for Africa’ (SFA) emerged as a way for participating artists to further promote efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
In partnership with Free The Children and CARE Kenya, the first Song for Africa documentary captured everyday stories of communities deeply affected by HIV/AIDS. The film featured Ian D'Sa (Billy Talent), Damhnait Doyle, Luke McMaster and Simon Wilcox, who traveled to Kenya in the summer of 2007.
A second documentary in 2009, Rwanda: Rises Up!, focused on the resilience of the Rwandan nation and the staggering progress made since the genocide in 1994. The accompanying full length album (released by Sony Music) featured an impressive roster of Canadian artists including Sarah Slean, Steve Bays (Hot Hot Heat), Damhnait Doyle and Tim Edwards (Crash Parallel) who participated in the film, as well as Ian D'Sa (Billy Talent), Cone McCaslin (Sum 41/Operation MD), Classified, and The Trews.
Darcy Ataman has continued to travel to Rwanda and more recently to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in order to develop partnerships for the Song for Africa Music Enrichment Program. Potential partnerships with programs working with child soldiers together with Roméo Dallaire's Child Soldier Initiative have been explored, as well as one with the Panzi Hospital
Song for Africa created the Music Enrichment Program (MEP) as a tool to enhance, enrich, and improve education in Africa, and as an opportunity for young people in Africa to engage in new forms of expression. The MEP uses music to accomplish 2 educational goals: to effectively educate on the difficult topic of HIV/AIDS and to develop leadership and personal life skills.
The program uses music as the medium and method to deliver interactive seminars to teach HIV/AIDS material more effectively than in a traditional lecture model. Facilitators lead the MEP music seminars, which provide unique opportunities for facilitators to share information on issues affecting the participant’s lives such as HIV/AIDS (and other illnesses outlined in the Millennium Development Goals framework) and the traumas associated with war. The education of the participants has a subsequent effect of increasing dialogue between the participants and their families and communities.
Concurrently, SFA’s Music Enrichment Program involves participants in cooperatively creating music, which aims to develop participants’ leadership and group work skills and builds self-confidence. These skills allow participants to share their experiences with their peers, their families, and their communities. These life skills are tools that are needed to transform the world around the participants, allowing them to communicate accurately and meaningfully to their peers and communities and convey powerful potent messages through culturally accepted and culturally powerful modes of communication.
The SFA Music Enrichment Program seminars include music enrichment activities, writing master classes, and professional recording sessions with both local and international producers, engineers, and performing artists.Song for Africa
Rwanda: Rises Up!!
A Song for Africa
Rwanda: Rises Up!
Canadian International Development Agency
The University of Winnipeg Global College
Child Soldiers Initiative
MetalWorks Institute of Sound and Music Production