Updated: Oct 30, 2020
Today Fair Play proudly announces a new global Ambassador, known internationally for music that is as danceable as it is thought-provoking. With over a billion streams across all platforms, Fair Play welcomes the African Giant, Nigerian superstar Burna Boy into its fold.
Since the release of his first single “Freedom Freestyle” in 2010, Burna Boy has always interwoven social themes into his music, addressing injustices of the past and present, speaking out against corruption and miseducation. Whether on stage, campaigning to #EndSARS through his Project Protect or speaking out about injustice, Burna Boy brings attention to the fact that many of Africa's problems are intrinsically linked to corruption, corruption that is largely inherited from recent colonial history, corruption in the form of influence of local and international business interests, as well as the effects of poverty which exacerbates small scale corruption.
Born Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, Burna Boy’s family has a long history of social engagement. Burna's grandfather Benson Idonije was a renowned Nigerian music critic and manager of music legend, Fela Kuti. Kuti, throughout his professional career, faced persecution for his critique against the Nigerian government and Burna, growing up, was familiarised early on with the challenges faced in his country and his continent.
On his Fair Play appointment, Burna Boy said “We as musicians have the power to speak directly to our fans through our music, to let them know what is really going on and inspire them to change their situation. It is both a responsibility and an honour to speak on behalf of those who are not heard in the mainstream media, and being a Fair Play Ambassador, I join a movement that works to do the same”.
Blasko Smilevski, Executive Director of JM International, says having an artist of Burna Boy’s calibre joining the movement marks a new era for Fair Play, “Mr Ogulu’s remarkable work as an artist and activist – from challenging destructive power structures in his home country to shining a light on the struggle for equality the world over – makes him the ideal combination of what we are looking for in a Fair Play Ambassador”.
Roberto Perez Rocha, Director of Transparency International’s International Anti-Corruption Conference conveyed his fervent belief that Burna Boy will inspire even more young artists to use their voices and join the ever-growing network of social justice 'artivists' fighting corruption around the world. In his words, “Fair Play works to empower young musicians as voices for their communities, music gives them a unique platform and we are working to make that platform even bigger! Having Burna Boy on our team does just that”.
The Fair Play initiative started in 2010 and calls on young musicians to submit music videos that take on issues around corruption and social justice. The best entries are selected to participate and perform at the International Anti-corruption Conference or IACC (the world's largest anti-corruption event), which includes the Fair Play Bootcamp, where they receive training on how to amplify their messages, whilst practicing their art and activism in a safe and sustainable way. Fair Play additionally organises local artist-driven events around the world, where issues around corruption are directly addressed by those facing them. The powerful messages of these songs are shaping the world and letting the corrupt know that their days are numbered!
Fair Play is based on the belief that only together, as a global community, can we stamp out corruption. With Burna Boy, the Fair Play Ambassadors and Winners at our side, bringing people together, enlightening and giving hope, we are certain that this generation is going to be the change they want to see in the world.