No Party Without Music

CodeBus Africa is a celebration of technology and youth empowerment – and everybody knows there’s no party without music! From making songs on the live programming environment Sonic Pi to energetic dance-offs to the beat of freshly coded tunes and local bangers, music played a central role in CodeBus Africa. In Mozambique, local artists Regina, Klorokilla, Carmen Chaquice, Teknik and Stewart Sukuma visited workshops, performing their hit songs and inspiring the youth. In addition, concerts was organized by the Finnish embassies and local partners in four countries. In each one, a diverse line-up of musicians came together and provided a memorable evening to an audience of young listeners.

The first CodeBus concert took place in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, where a bunch of local rappers and dancers got up on the busy stage one after another. Among the various performers were Kibera-born rappers Slavey da illest and Mikke Mzeyya, as well as Kenyan female rapper Pizo Dizo. A crowd of some 300 kids gathered ’round to enjoy the show. Slavey also acted as a MC in the workshops, getting the youth hyped up about creating their own songs by coding. Mzeyya, who is also a radio host, interviewed workshop attendees for his show.

The second concert was organized in Lusaka, Zambia. Local musicians Wezi Heartsound, Cactus Agony, John Chiti and Nasty-D joined hands with Finnish Paleface, Papa Zai and Biniyam on the stage of Manhattan Lounge & Restaurant in Mass Media. Two sets from the artists kept everybody dancing throughout the evening. Cactus’ upbeat reggae sounds literally got the youth jumping and Papa Zai’s more mellow tunes inspired swaying waves of arms. Later, the Finnish artists visited workshops in Livingstone, and Paleface MC’d a post-workshop jam session, leading the youth into a dope call-and-response.

In Windhoek, Namibia, an open air concert woke up the Namibia University of Science and Technology campus with flashy lights and cool sounds, as TheFutureIsGiggz, Bertholdt Mbinda, Samuel Myamba, Fesse Hamunyela, Rushour, Sakari Löytty and Ulla-Sisko Jauhiainen performed their music. Before her solo performance, a surprise guest appearance was made during Hamunyela’s show by local CodeBus instructor Stefanie Garsises, who moonlights as rapper RÖMI. Rumor has it even the concert organizers climbed on stage to sing a song or two.

The last concert was held in Cape Town, South Africa. After DJ sets by electropop artist Emma Kemppainen of LCMDF and Mehackit’s Tommi Toivonen, the evening culminated in listening to South African jams. The girls put on local tunes and got down on the dance floor to show off their best moves. “Hearing their favorite songs was what really got the party started”, Kemppainen says.

Before the celebration, Kemppainen held a 2-hour DJ workshop for a dozen girls. The workshop gave an introduction to a DJ’s work – what a disc jockey does and what the technical side of DJing involves. In addition to the girls getting to try out things like beat mixing on Pioneer decks themselves, Kemppainen talked about claiming space: being confident on stage and believing in yourself. “Kind of like coding, DJing is one of those things that’s seen as a ‘boy’s thing’, so empowering young women is especially close to my heart. I always try to encourage women to be bold – the space is there and all it takes to claim it is courage. It’s a message that can’t be underlined enough.”

Kemppainen believes that music is a great tool for youth empowerment because it brings people together and allows them to create something of their own. Her motivation to take part in the CodeBus Africa initiative was personal, as seeing an older female DJ was what once inspired her to give DJing a try herself. “The girls were really into it and they had their own taste in music and a clear musical vision”, Kemppainen says. “Based on the determination and self-confidence of the girls, I don’t see much getting in their way if they choose to pursue DJing.”

Check out LCMDF’s music video ‘Rookie’: