By George Kalisa in Kigali
Dr Rasha Kelej, the CEO of Merck Foundation and one of 100 most influential Africans has directed and produced a song dubbed ‘My White Army’ by bringing together singers from 11 African countries.
The song which is in three languages – English, French and Arabic is exclusively intended to demonstrate support to the medical workers worldwide that risk their lives in the battle against the novel Coronavirus as well as being Dr Rasha’s personal contribution towards the response to Coronavirus pandemic.
I have directed and produced for the first time, a song by singers from 11 African countries for the first time together in three languages; English, French and Arabic to show our support for medical workers around the world. This is my personal contribution towards the response to Coronavirus pandemic.
This is the first time in Africa that 11 singers from 11 African countries have participated in one song to support the medical staff.
‘My White Army’ aims to acknowledging the doctors and nurses fighting on the front lines of the coronavirus battle, risking exposure to the virus so everyone else can stay home and stay healthy.
The song explicitly illustrates the sacrifice of health workers who come together under the of Dr Rasha’s personal initiative, ‘Separated but Connected’.
(…)But at the professional level, through Merck Foundation, we have raced to respond to coronavirus in Africa in partnership with 18 First Ladies in four main focus areas which include; supporting the livelihood of thousands of casual workers and women during the lockdown, launching the “Stay at Home’ Media Recognition Awards, launching an inspiring children storybook ‘Make the Right Choice’ to sensitize children & youth about Coronavirus and building healthcare capacity through providing online one year diploma for African doctors in Respiratory medicines and Acute Medicines,” said Dr. Rasha while remarking on the song.
“I strongly believe it is important for the people on the front line; doctors, nurses and health workers know how grateful we are. I don’t want this to be a one-off thank you, but one that becomes a regular act of gratitude across our communities. I have heard stories of horrible behavior against our health workers, such as, landlords are forcefully evicting them due to paranoia that they might spread COVID -19. It is shocking, illegal and inhuman behavior, ” she added.
Salatiel the famous Cameroonian singer who sang with Beyoncé and Pharrell in the latest ‘Lion King’ movie was also part of our song, of course he sang in French, so as Tom Close from Rwanda, both of them represent African French speaking countries.
Moreover, Mahmoud AL Leithy, a famous singer and actor from Egypt sang his part in Arabic to represent African Arabic speaking countries.
The rest of the group are famous singers in their own countries, sang in English.
The lyrics and music writer was Cwesi from Ghana.
Although Dr. Rasha is not a professional music director and producer, she boasts of a wealthy of experience in production and presenting TV programmes at Abu Dhabi TV.
She has also produced and directed many documentaries to break the stigma around infertile women and to empower women and girls in education in Africa and Asia as part of Merck Foundation programmes.
Her strong belief in Pan-Africanism is the underlying thrust behind her invaluable contribution in human development and safety in Africa.
“Most importantly, I have the vision of inclusive Africa, all regions of Africa; North, South, West and East in one work and one Initiative that goes across the whole continent and the whole world,” added Rasha.
Singers are expressing love, respect and gratitude for doctors, nurses and health workers, the front lines of coronavirus battle. It is their messages of support for those braving the outbreak to help others.