Many have drawn lofty conclusions from the title of Yemi Alade’s second album “Mama Africa.” And they are justified. The name does present a lot of interpretation angles, with the most prevalent being that the bold and ambitious title signifies the intention of the singer to take over the African continent, with exportable ‘World Music’.
It’s a fact that Yemi Alade wants to dominate the African market. From her fashion to her many trips and performances in exotic continental locations, it is glaring that her aim is to connect with different cultures via music. This she has done to this point by selectively speaking their languages on songs. She has a Swahili version of ‘Na gode’, and a French version of ‘Kissing’. These songs open her music up to a wider audience with Anglophone Africa already covered by default, the East and Francophone African countries can also be conquered.
But what many fail to see is this. Yemi Alade isn’t in the real sense of things trying to become Africa’s mother. The album title does not even allude to these lofty ideals. It is simply a construct from her friends, who having seen her travel all over the continent, began to call her “Mama Africa”.
“My producer Fliptyce and so many other people they’ve been calling me “Mama Africa” because they noticed that your girl no dey stay one place”, she said.
“Today I go dey Angola, tomorrow I go dey Kenya. I dey waka too much and mostly to African countries. So den start to dey call me “Mama Africa” you no go sit down one place”, she added.
When she needed a name for her next body of work, ‘Mama Africa’ was the only name which resonated within her. Creatively, it was a good fit, and would serve as the moniker to elevate her music beyond the borders of Nigeria, and that’s how we have it.
Other schools of assumption also state that Yemi Alade’s music should be reflective of the title ‘Mama Africa’ in ways which properly represent the African movement, and discuss weightier issues. In simpler words, they want Yemi Alade to be a conscious singer due to the album title and branding. They want another singer in the mold of Brenda Fassie and Miriam Makeba, people who advance the weighty cause of the continent via unifying music. Yemi understands this, hence she intends to make music that connects but does not go through the pretense that comes with conscious posturing.
This African woman might be me, it might be you, it might be your sister or your cousin”. She said at her press conference and album listening which held in Lagos yesterday.
“It’s about me, it’s about you, it’s about the females, it’s about the guys, it’s about life in general and what I think, I’m going to express my pain, my joy, my thoughts even if you might think I’m crazy.
“This is me expressing myself undiluted, I’m not trying to please anyone, I’m saying it as it comes to my head after all that is what music is about”.
Yemi Alade has always sought to express herself, and share her stories via music. It’s what her made her rise through the ranks, and it’s a formula that she intends to not change. Africa will have to listen, connect and celebrate the music of Yemi Alade. In between, she has to keep travelling. She is “Mama Africa” of course.