Rasha Kelej: 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.
In what has now become a global way of showing support and appreciation for medical workers around the world, during Coronavirus battle, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and One of 100 Most Influential Africans started her own idea of creating an inspiring pan African song called ‘My White Army’ which aims to thank the doctors and nurses fighting on the front lines of the coronavirus battle, who are risking exposure to the virus so everyone else can stay home and stay healthy.
Rasha Kelej explained, “I am very proud that I have been able to coordinate, direct and produce this gesture of support across 11 African countries through the 11 talented singers in three languages Arabic, English and French. They have amazing voices & great diversity; and are from countries from North, South, East and West Africa. It was very difficult especially during the lockdown, but they were all super cooperative and we finally did it together.”
Singers in alphabetical order;
- A Pass from Uganda
- Cwesi from Ghana
- Kambua from Kenya
- Mahmoud Al Leithy from Egypt
- Nikki from Nigeria
- Rozzy from Sierra Leone
- Salatiel from Cameroon
- Sean K from Namibia
- Sunita from The Gambia
- Tom Close from Rwanda
- and Wezi from Zambia
This song is to acknowledge the great sacrifice of our doctors, nurses and medical workers during these tough times in Africa and across the world under the umbrella of my personal initiative, ‘Separated but Connected’.
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, singing in English.
The lyrics and music writer was Cwesi from Ghana.
“Although I am not a professional director or producer as you all know, I have a different career as CEO of Merck Foundation, but I have previous experience in production and presenting TV programs in Abu Dhabi TV. I have also produced and directed many documentaries with the aim to break the stigma around infertile women and to empower women and girls in education in Africa and Asia as part of Merck Foundation programs. So, I believe I have the talent and experience needed. 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” Rasha Kelej added.
Speaking of the new song, Rasha Kelej emphasized, “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 behaviour 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 behaviour”.
Through this song, singers representing Africa are expressing our 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.
This is the first time in Africa and maybe in the world that 11 singers from 11 African countries in three languages have participated in one song, to support the medical staff during this difficult time.
Dr. Rasha Kelej, the director and producer of the song explained, “This song is my personal contribution to COVID-19 response. 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”.