Late last year, we introduced you to five fantastic musicians who are using their talent to fight corruption in Africa. We asked you to vote for your favorite, and you answered. The winner of the 2019 Accountability Music Awards is Chioma “Cill” Ogbonna!
“I am glad to see that people still embrace music that inspires them to do right and not act like spectators, music that awakens their consciousness; this is exactly what conscious music is to me.” — Chioma “Cill” Ogbonna
The Lagos-based musician quit her legal career to pursue music in 2016. Her style incorporates soul, alternative rock, folk, country and elements of “Africanness.” She won for her song “All You’ve Got.” The song encourages citizens to take an active role in pushing for social and political reform in Nigeria.
For Cill, music is a source of hope and inspiration in the face of harsh realities and social ills.
“We live in a world, especially in Africa, where you wake up almost daily to scary events, human rights violations, abuse of power, failing electoral processes, a decline in political participation — or even worse, political apathy or downplaying of life threatening realities like we see on Twitter everyday where we just want to ‘dance away our sorrows,” Cill explains.
“I am glad to see that people still embrace music that inspires them to do right and not act like spectators, music that awakens their consciousness; this is exactly what conscious music is to me. I’m more hopeful today than yesterday.”
It was a close competition between Cill and the rest of the nominees. Close in second is Nigerian hip-hop artist Falz, whose song “Talk” challenges promises of security and prosperity offered by Nigerian policymakers in the face of threats like Boko Haram. These two artists are followed by Kenyan afro-pop group Sauti Sol, Malian singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara, and Zimbabwean dancehall artist Platinum Prince.
About the award
For many African citizens, corruption is a pressing issue. The most recent Corruption Perceptions Index, launched by Transparency International last week, ranked sub-Saharan Africa as the lowest scoring world region. Sub-Saharan Africa scored 32 out of 100 points, well below the global average of 43. Many report losing faith in governments and institutions as a result, making it a serious problem in need of solutions.
Music is an essential way of addressing these concerns and getting citizens involved in anti-corruption reform. The Accountability Music Awards – a collaboration between Accountability Lab, the ONE Campaign and Trace Africa – seek to honor musicians for their activism through music and elevate their crucial work to a wider audience.
“These artists are using their voices to engage citizens around critical challenges in their societies,” says Blair Glencorse, Executive Director of Accountability Lab. “The more we can do to celebrate and lift them up, the more we can begin to popularize their messages and shift understandings of the problems.”
Music has always been a powerful tool for inspiring change and sparking action. Artists like Cill and the other nominees are creating music to take a stand, demand accountability and make the world a better place.