Here is the speech delivered by Malawi’s celebrated musician Tay Grin, The Nyau King at the European International Intellectual Property Cooperation Afripi Launch in Kampala Uganda on Thursday 26th August 2021
WORDS DON’T PAY DEBTS
In my culture it is customary poyamba mwambo kumuthokoza Mulungu. By this I mean we have to give thanks to God for the gift of life while acknowledging that being alive today and being present at this auspicious occasion is merely by grace and not a privilege.
As we all know we are living in very dangerous times where even a warm embrace could kill you.
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is an honour for me, my country Malawi and on behalf of all African artists to deliver this keynote speech. Today, the AfrIPI project launch marks a historic milestone in the quest to safeguard intellectual property rights for African artists; an achievement worth celebrating.
As a custodian of culture I stand before you invigorated & optimistic of a future Africa that justly rewards its talent unlike unhinged the current unorthodox practices that exist in our various African industries.
This AfrIPI project will arm our respective authorities and bring an end to rogue ideas of syphoning from our cultural reservoirs and reproducing masterpieces that mislead the fabrics of history.
For long our identities have been stolen, our ideas, and fashion, among others. Rhythms have enriched other nations beyond the continent, but with nothing to show monetary wise back home. It is undisputed that Africa is now the new frontier of the world in terms of Art. This indeed is the right time for this project. African culture is profound and unique, people have spoken a lot about Africa, how great our music is, dances, paintings, sculptures, poetry, you name it. The truth of the matter is that we are unique. But unfortunately words don’t pay debts. I repeat words don’t pay debts.
Ladies and gentlemen I am a young man, one that loves to learn more about the past to have a clear picture of the future. With this allow me to quickly teleport you to the year 1939. As Judy Garland made a fortune from her 1939 hit song “over the rainbow”. It was in that same year that our own brother Solomon Linda from the southern part of Africa, to be specific for those who my wish to know. He was from South Africa in a small tin house South East of SOWETO in Johhanesburg. Brother Linda composed one of the greatest songs from the continent to the world, Mbube which means Lion. Indeed this composition was a Lion of a composition. Unfortunately this Lion did not catch any game for Solomon. On record Brother Solomon died with just $25. But, only for Mbube the great song to resurface in the United States of America catching big game for Disney in their 1994 blockbuster movie The Lion King.
Indeed, it was the same Lion, but in a different Jungle. In the American Jungle those who introduced Mbube were able to collect every cent and enjoy the Lions share, literally. In the African Jungle Mbube never collected a dime. The Jungle had no proper rules and ways on how the Lion was to get its share. The same can be said about Africa even today, we create Lions that roar far and beyond our continent, but with nothing to show for it monetary wise. We certainly need modern and efficient ways to make the Lions we create catch the game. I am happy to be here knowing we are embarking on a journey that will catch the game. I am not just speaking of catching the game though, always remember that words don’t pay debts. Men and women in this room I encourage you as you have encouraged me with your presence here today, that together in putting in concerted efforts, we will do it.
Having taken you on a journey in the past, please allow me to bring you back to 2021. Thanks to the copyright expert Dr. Owen Dean who personally directed the litigation on behalf of Solomon Linda’s family who were living in abject poverty in the slams of Soweto. As we speak they have been duly compensated for the past, the present and the future. Simply put, let me just say that they now have the lion’s share. But not all creatives in the mother Land have the opportunity to be presented by this copyright expert Dr. Dean. All they speak are just words. But remember words never paid any debts.
Fortunately, on this day we speak not just words that can’t pay no debts. We have an organization that will make sure that we are able to not just pay debts, but to be paid ourselves.
In the words of Hopal Green, “A little bit of sacrifice is needed in order to succeed, if you don’t then your success might become short of what it could have been.” Thank you Afripa Afripi for rising to the occasion and sacrificing for Africa. Your sacrifice is not in vein, but will make a huge difference in the lives of artists and will be a stepping stone for great things to come, and for others to build on.
I am most obliged.
Thank you for your attention.
To watch the whole program following the link below :