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The action/2015 campaign in Kenya is off to a flying start!

03 Feb 2015

People dancing to the action/2015 song!From the oldest person to the youngest baby in the room, we all took to the dance floor when the song Hoja Zetu (My Views) was introduced to the crowd for the first time in Nairobi, Kenya during the launch of the action/2015 campaign.

The crowd cheered, sang along and waved their action/2015 flags to show their joy and excitement in welcoming another great addition to the music scene in Africa.

The crowd of more than 120 people were visibly moved by the energetic dancing and powerful voices of Dar Mjomba and Avril – two of the most popular Kenyan musicians of the moment.

These were backed by one of the few surviving pioneers of post-independence Kenyan music; the guitarist John Nzenze and the retired founder the legendary group Them Mushrooms; the saxophonist Teddy Kalanda.

Combining two generations of artists

Both Nzenze and Kalanda have composed some of Kenya’s most popular and enduring songs, namely Bachelor Boy and Jambo Bwana. Other artists involved in the project are seasoned keyboardist John Katana and afro-fusion singer Judith Bwire, aka Mama Afrika. She plays the eight-string Luonyatiti traditional harp, or kambanane.

The action/2015 song combines the East African hip hop style Bongo flavour with some Congolese lingala, which is also very common in the region and mostly appreciated by older people. It is a true representation of the talent of the two generations involved.

This collaboration, bringing legendary names and upcoming artists together, is very unique. People who might not agree on some issues came together to communicate a key message about their day-to-day experiences as young and older people.

When is our time?

Mama Africa playing her harp. As a result, Hoja Zetu has powerful lyrics and a strong message. The youth are asking their leaders to listen to them and give them a chance: “They tell us we are the leaders of tomorrow, when is our time?”

Whereas the older people are saying they are tired of being told to retire and move to back to their villages: “Old age is not a disability. When is our time?”

This is the million dollar question that every young and older person wants answered. It is in this spirit that HelpAge collaborated with the Organisation of African Youth to work with the six musicians to launch the action/2015 campaign; which we have dubbed action2015/AllAges.

The campaign aims to amplify the voices of young and old using their talent and skills to push global leaders to commit to a sustainable development framework that guarantees that everyone lives in dignity, free from hunger, ignorance, disease, fear of violence, oppression, discrimination and injustice.

Campaigners from all walks of life

The campaign brings together people from different walks of life; from globally recognised figures such as the Indian actor Aamir Khan, the musician Bono, and 2014 Nobel Peace Laureate Malala Yousafzai to people like Margaret Githinji, an 81-year-old retired teacher from Kenya. She says she wants a plan that will ensure that she and millions other older people have access to quality and affordable medical services.

“We cannot continue to be ignored,” said Ms Githinji at the launch. “We are asking our leaders to develop and implement policies that will ensure we lead healthy, dignified lives. We want accessible and affordable medical services for the ailments that come with our age.”

15-year-old Austin Odhiambo wants to see a framework that will prioritise access to quality education for everyone. “Our governments should ensure children from poor families and orphans can also go to school. No one should be left behind.”

A citizen's movement for a better future

Young action/2015 campaignersThe action/2015 global campaign was launched on 15 January with the aim of creating a citizen’s movement that will pressurise local and global leaders to develop and implement ambitious plans during UN Special Summit on Sustainable Development in September and the UN Climate talks in Paris in December.

HelpAge and OAYouth want the final framework to address inequalities including universal social protection and decent work for everyone, promote good health and ensure accountability and meaningful participation particularly for the most marginalised people.

The new framework should build on and further the implementation of existing agreements on youth (World Programme of Action for Youth) and older people (the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing).

Listen to the action/2015 song again!

How you can get involved:

Sarah Gillam for HelpAge International London

Your comments

john karanja

Such a great song. "Truly ujana ni maua na uzee si kilema" thanks Avril and the band for this great action/2015 anthem i cant stop listening to it again and again.

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Jamillah Mwanjisi
Job title: Head, Policy, Advocacy & Campaigns, EWC Afric

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.