African musicians combat malaria

April 2005 -

Musical super-stars from the African continent performed on 12 and 13 March 2005 in the Senegal capitol Dakar to support the fight against malaria. The two-day benefit festival, with performers including Youssou N'Dour, Baaba Maal, Orchestra Baobab, Manu Digango and Salif Keita, was primarily intended to draw attention to the dangers of malaria and the need to improve prevention.

The Roll Back Malaria Festival is in keeping with the world-wide campaign bearing the same name launched in 1988 by the United Nations and the World Bank. The goal is to reduce the number of mortalities due to malaria - now more than one million each year - by one-half within five years.

During the World Economic Forum in the Swiss city of Davos last January, Senegalese musician Youssou N'Dour volunteered to be Special Envoy for the anti-malaria campaign. In part thanks to the financial support from multi-national corporations, including Sumitomo Chemical and Exxon Mobil, he was able to organize the Roll Back Malaria Concert in Dakar.

The organization decided to select not Paris, London or New York as the venue, but a city on the continent with the highest number of mortalities due to malaria: Africa. A registration of the festival will be shown elsewhere on television starting on July first: a two-hour documentary by British cineaste Mick Csáky has already been sold to the BBC, Arte and France 3. African television networks have received the documentary free of charge along with a half-hour educational film about the disease that threatens over fourty percent of the world's population.