Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism

ISSN: 2165-7912

Open Access

The Power of Song in the Struggle for Health and Development Outcomes in Africa: Lessons for Social and Behaviour Change Programmes


Fayoyin A and Nieuwoudt S

This paper explores the use of music in the struggle for health and development outcomes in Africa. From our case studies, we found that development agencies and other stakeholders employ songs for social mobilisation, information diffusion, partnerships with high profile global, regional and national artists and fundraising for humanitarian response. The lyrics from the songs range from the entertaining to the satirical and from defiance of oppression to hope for the future. The study shows that charity songs are also used to frame and reframe Africa’s development issues by different artists. Finally, we conclude that music is strong in disseminating information in social development but ineffective in influencing collective behaviour on structural inequalities and the root causes of underdevelopment. In view of the ambiguous impact of music in behaviour and social change, we recommend an interdisciplinary framework for a global theory of songs in development. The use and misuse of charity songs also deserves further investigation.


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