tv Talk to Al Jazeera Al Jazeera April 30, 2015 4:00pm-4:31pm EDT
us yeah it effectively, but also ethically, and i think that's crucial in any campaign. >> thank you, krzysztof, elizabeth plank, and all of our guests until next time, we will see you online. this week on "talk to al jazeera", musician, songwriter, producer akon, the senna galees american artist that sold for than 30 million records. >> first i'm a businessman. >> akon is an activist and philanthropist and spend a lot of time promoting peace in areas congo.
he's spending a lot of money to i don't have the quality of life of 1 million africans by bringing them electricity. he doesn't think the continent needs to be saved by the west. >> we are stopping africa from governing itself. they are still foreigners in certain areas that control africa. the singer says america has a problem with race. when i say african-american in america dealing with the issues, my first question is why don't they just go home. >> there's controversy about his performance style and lyrics. >> the women call themed [ bleep ] more than we -- call each other [ bleep ] more than we do. >> i caught up with him in dubai, where we talk business and being an american until america. few artists are able to take their celebrity and build it
into a brand that goes beyond the art, the celebrity in this case. you seem to do it, what is the secret? >> it's not a secret. you have to be a businessman first, this is a music. some people are more related to artists, and exclude the business. they have other people that run it. when i create musically i figure maximized. >> are you then a businessman first, and a musician second. >> yes, started off as a hustler. musician. >> fine. >> for sure. >> you have a lot going on - a clothing line, night clubs, investments in africa - a diamond mine, even, i hear, in south africa. what is it - is this like social capitalism. you are making money, obviously. what do you say to people who say oh, this is all just, you money. >> well, it is a way for me
to make money. yearly it's a business. i want to get into business to help people, change lives. i can be an artist and be on stage and do endorsements and make money, but i'm in a position where i'm gifted in a place where i have been offered opportunities, where i can make a difference and change lives. why not make money and change lives at the same time. >> social capitalism then. >> yes. >> let's talk about your ventures, i want to start with akon lighting africa. what has been achieved? >> we actually overachieved. we are behind a million households, we are in 14 countries. we started with creating solar energy for rural energy and house homes, now we are doing solar street lamps through the countries and incorporating it within each country. we are putting solar in the villages, and creating a system
where we employ the locals to maintain it and keep everything with. >> you have to acknowledge that it's a huge challenge to bring electricity to africa. 5 million people don't have power and 1% of private sector investment goes to africa. i wonder where you say you are in 14 countries, how many did you reach? >> to take app example, we have 30,000 street lamps, all solar. these are areas where you couldn't drive or walk out at night. you won't have a clue where you are going. those areas and people in that path is affecting them. we have 100,000 home systems in selected villages, and we are expanding. that is one country. >> how is the initiative received by the different
governments in guinea, senegal. these are governments grid sized for not doing enough. >> absolutely. >> when it comes to electricity, the president was criticized when he started. initiative? >> i think every country was a little suspicious, because they were "he's a music guys, what is he going in energy?" there was all of that. but we came fully prepared with answers, and prarpd to execute. we -- prepared to execute. we didn't come with an idea, we had a full team, infrastructure. from the moment we came in we created pilots. we didn't ask the country for money, we put up our own money. >> how much are we talking? >> depends on the pilot. we allowed them to choose the village to be electorified first, to give them a scope of work. they were in belief after that, and we continued and did the whole country afterwards. >> how much money,
again, did you invest? >> collectively, but per village, from $100,000 to $250,000 for a pilot. >> there's akon lighting africa. and you joined a nonprofit peace one day. with a huge concert in goma in the east of the d.r.c. earlier this year. tell us about that experience. what is the objective. >> well, peace one day is really a huge event that program onts peace. it's that one day in the -- promotes peace. it's the one day in the year where you ask yourself who do i want to make peace with. often times we are conflicted, and no one is communicating. sometimes, last time, it was miscommunication. peace one day is that moment that we try to create annually that can create the moment for people to communicate. >> what was it like to perform at the airport in goma? >> no, no, listen, just putting
that concert together was a year preparation. we couldn't find a venue big enough. we asked the government to see if we could take the airport, the runway, because that was the only place to allow a concert allowing so many people there. it was an experience, it was amazing. very, very well. >> akon, once the cobb cert is over -- concert is over, these people in goma go back to the daily lives of hardship, war, them. >> war is a choice. the thing is in, right, everyone has to go back to the daily lives, but not with the same mined state they walked into with. >> who is going to war. it's not the people that see the concert. they are the victims. who should your message be addressed with. >> a war can only happen if supported by the people. it's simple. it's people that carry guns and shoot. you are a person, these are people that do it.
they have to be the ones to make the difference, the change, and say "i'm not doing this." >> what difference has it made for the people of goma? >> if i look at - if i can save one life a year, that was meant to not be here, that's a difference made. when you take a whole day of no guns, no fire power, no bombs, no nothing, just straight peace, do you know how many lives are saved that day? it was a lot. it may not be to people's standards as a difference made. to me, one life, you know, gone is a difference made. you. >> in addition to peace one day, there's a silent campaign for ebola, launched by the one campaign. we saw several artists, a few african artists take part in the silent campaign urging government to do more in the fight against ebola.
i'm almost tempted to say, you know, this is a cynical voice in me. there you go again, africa needing help from foreigners. >> absolutely. i think it's an issue that africa has to face as well too. we play a huge role. we have to rebrand the continent. when you look at the ebola crisis in general, you know, a lot of it stemmed in certain parts of africa. and, yes, it has to be contained in so many ways. in a lot of ways i think it's been overly exaggerated to where it will affect africa's economy in the future. >> what has been exaggerated. >> the ebola crisis. malaria killed more then ebola. if you look at it, it's a billion in change, people in africa, a couple of chows and affected -- thousand affected.
less than 0.1%. of the fear is so strong that people wouldn't want to travel to africa because of that. that affects the economy, future, business. >> what do you thick of western charity songs as a response to african emergency? >> honestly, you want to applaud anyone that wants to do something great for a cause. once it is done, what is taken afterwards. it's the same amount of people infected. more now, than before. it's only a few thousand people. why isn't anything happening. happening? >> use commonsense. it's not going to africa. >> where is it going? >> i would expose it if i knew. i don't know where it's going. >> the reason i ask about what you thought about all the western musicians and so on.
there's a paternalistic view that exists today, and this is decades after colonialism, that africa must be saved. >> yes. >> by the west. >> actually, honestly. believe it or not. that's true. i don't think the word save is the right word for africa. africa, to an extent, has been the anchor to the rest of the world. every natural resource that is keeping every country in the world operating is a resource pulled from africa, everyone benefits, but africa. africa doesn't need to be said, it's doing the saving. >> you said "if i could have my way, africa would be the - the united states of africa, one leader. markus garvey wrote a song, bob marley song about this. and others poured their idea in
the united states of avco. when you look at africa, a continent of a billion, 2,000 languages. is it realistic? >> first of all, it has to be our generation, and the generation that comes after to achieve it. i don't think this generation will be able to achieve it. it's too much history, too much built up to where it started. it has to be from a generation clear from history, clear from conflict and see the world in a way that we see it. the only way africa can evolve is we have to be united, just one country. all the countries should be broken down into basically states. there should be one president, and he or she should be democratically elected by all africans to do what is best. >> in one country already, it's difficult to have a democratic election.
how do you have a democratic election in a so-called united that? >> it's not hard, if china do election. >> maybe what, democracy - africa doesn't need it maybe, maybe there has to be another form of rule. >> there has to be elections. if you want africa stable there has to be elections. we need africans to govern themselves. we are stopping africans governing themselves and creating one africa, is that there are foreigners in certain areas controlling africa. francophone countries. a lot of war is set up from influences. >> announcer: in is "talk to al jazeera" - ahead on the programme akon on race relations in america. why the singer says the system in america was never built for black people.
you're watching "talk to al jazeera", i'm speaking with akon, the senegalese-american singer. you are considered a first generation american, your parents are african, you were born in the united states, but spent your early childhood in senegal and moved to the united states. do you consider yourself american, african, african-american what are you? >> america. >> so you are not american. >> i wish i was. >> you have the accent. >> no, i went to school in america.
my earlier childhood i was raised in africa. when i graduated high school it was a choice of africa or the u.s. greater. >> you are the perfect example true. >> thank you. >> millions of africans who make it to the states, and who don't, you know, have the same success and the same luck as you have. what would be your advice to a young african who is emigrating to the united states today? >> this advice will go to any person migrating into the states. ultimately you can't change who you are. the biggest obstacle is that when people come to the u.s., they kind of alienate their origin or parties, way of life. and they conform to what is there. accepted. integrate? >> absolutely not. first of all, there's no way you can move forward, and you are
not you. like, one thing i do notice about america, is they respect other cultures, they admire other cultures, when they see the difference in who they are, their attitude is different. but if you walk into me, and i know you are foreign, and you act like an american, you see the same fate. the respect level is different. if i walk up to an american, and you are an african or asian, that makes me more curious about who you are, i'm more intuitive about what and what this is. it motivates me to learn about it. the respect level is different. now you teach me. do you follow. >> when you are in the states, you are proud to say you are african? >> absolutely. clearly, yes. >> you know, you once told the source magazine, and i want to quote this. black people in the u.s. can nag all they want how the system is against black people, but if
they saw how other people lived in africa, they would see how blessed they really are. >> do you still believe this today, when you see unarmed black teenagers killed by the police. when you see protests in st. louis, missouri, where you lived for a long time. when you see people taking to the streets to denounce police brutality against young african american men. do you think the system really is for these people. >> well, the system was never for them. >> so what made you say this? >> because when i said that i was talking about the environment and where they live, and the rites that they have, and the blessing that they do, you know, have actual access to them. in africa, the way i grew up, let's just take a project in new york, for instance. that's a 5-star hotel compared to the environment i came up in.
like, if they see how they live, they get money from the government. they actual - there actually are programs that help the impoverished and the poor, and you get food stamps. i mean, they have it good compared to africa. do you follow. there's a huge difference in how the government allocate funds to the poor, and funds to the poor in africa. the environmentals are not left to right. if the games are taken from the environment they are in now to the same equal environment in home. them. >> i was talking about way of life. as far as the system, the system in america was never built for black people. it's never - this is my personal opinion. i speak for myself. i don't believe it was never built for black people. that system has never been changed.
those documents have never been altered. these things were made back in the um teen hundreds, and these are the same literature that is down today. at the time it was made, black people was never in a position where they were looked at as equal. if this is the same documents they are applying today in 2014, it wasn't meant for them. >> what was it like growing up as a black man in america? >> in america it was a little different. i was a foreigner, african and dark skinned. at the time that was not in still. i was getting picked on. >> you were in trouble a lot. trouble. >> what got you in trouble. >> the way i felt - i was mistreated and unfairly judged because i was african. i was always in a fight. >> you spent time in gaol. >> collectively about months. >> what for. yes.
>> so again, what was it like then. i mean, when you see, you know, ferguson, missouri today, and, you know, you hear of michael brown, and eric garner and so on, do you sympathise. do you see - do you understand that experience that these people are denouncing? >> i clearly understand the frustration. what i don't understand is that how like if i'm in a position of where they are, and i don't want to speak too much from them, because i think i may have some moj that they may not -- knowledge that they may not have, because i've been in a position where i've experienced africa and the united states. i felt like africa was for africans. when i see african-americans in america dealing with these issues, my first question is why don't they go home. >> where? >> back to africa, where they'll be treated fair, praised for who they are. because the fact that they are
treatment. >> come op, how do you tell people who lived for generations, centuries and centuries in one land to move to a place they don't know. >> that's my point. they don't know. it starts with a visit. how many african-americans consider africa as a vacation spot? not one. when you look at the overall population of african-americans, a few percentage would decide to go to africa for vacation or knowledge, to know where they come from or to get an idea of what that is. there's so much fear installed. they wouldn't want to go to visit. shake. >> coming up akon and his view of women.
>> when you sing about them, they are called sexy chicks - course. >> without being disrespectful, that is the only word i can use to describe them. >> sexy chicks, the infamous incident in trinidad in 2007, where, you know, you were dancing suggestively, to say the least with a teenage girl. you know, and i know this is not just hue, in hip hop in general women are called names and so on. it's a figure of speech, but i wonder, akon can dehumanizing entertainment. >> i wouldn't call it dehumanizing. the women call each other [ bleep ] rather than men. >> really. >> if i listen to a female
conversation, it's [ bleep ] so crazy girl. some people are uptight that they don't embrace personality, loosen up. >> what do you respond to people women. >> they clearly don't know me. there's not a woman in my life that says i don't respect them. >> you polygamy. >> that depends on the culture you follow. i came from an environment where wife. >> let's talk about your music, fans will not forgive me if i don't talk about the music. it's been six years, have you careers. >> i built my career off making music for others. i like the art of collaboration, because i felt you can always ex-panted art, you know -- expand art. they teach me something, i learn something. i teach them something, they
learn. you create a synergy that people have not heard or expect. interesting. >> when is the nextal bum? again, it's been a while. >> yes, it's been a minute. so 2:15 for -- so 2015 it will come out. >> what will it sounds like. some of your fans say they missed the original akon. now it's about dance, it's all about club music and so on. what happened. is this an attempt, you know to, be more commercial? >> no, me as an artist. i grow. i've been growing real fast. now that i travel. i grow more. one thing i learnt is what you said. there's a lot that have their favourite part of akon. this album is set up to where you give each audience their own
focus point. that's why the album is broken up into four parts. there's the urban record that you love. then there's the afro stadium, the african type music that audiences have never heard. then you have the international stadium giving you more of a global sound. and the euro stadium, which is dance pack and records. it's broken up into four parts, six songs and a bonus track on each one, you can purchase it as a package or produce the genre you desire. >> i can't wait to see it. >> thank you for speaking to us. >> you got g >> sunday. pop-rock, new wave icon kate pierson. >> woo! woo! woo! woo! >> revealing the secrets behind her biggest hits. >> i can express myself in a different way. >> her latest controversial track. >> i was very taken aback. >> and making a long lasting impact on the world. >> i have to just be myself.
>> every sunday night. >> i lived that character. >> go one on one with america's movers and shakers. >> we will be able to see change. >> gripping. inspiring. entertaining. "talk to al jazeera". sunday, 6:30 eastern. only on al jazeera america. >> i'm russell beard in northern kenya where local hero martin wheeler is taking elephant conservation to new heights. >> i'm jasmeen qureshshi in monterey bay california where researchers have discovered that sea otters may play a key role in revitalizing our oceans.