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NPR Reporter Discusses Relevance of Africa Series to U.S. Listeners

This week during Morning Edition, you’re meeting African artists through NPR’s “Emerging Voices” series. The series profiles artists, musicians and writers whose work is informed by modern African life. KSMU’s Missy Shelton spoke with one of the NPR reporters who worked on this series.

Photo of Ofeibea Quist-Arcton by Jacques Coughlin, Courtesy of NPR.org

Shelton: Ofeibea Quist-Arcton produced three profiles in NPR’s “Emerging Voices” series. And she had a tough time deciding who to include.Quist-Arcton: I was spoiled for choice. Africa is a continent bursting with artistic talent and in all artistic forms. I could’ve spoken to almost any artist on this continent and I hope there will be more “Emerging Voices” series.Shelton: You’re in Ghana joining me by phone and I’m in Springfield, Missouri. What do you think listeners in this part of the United States will gain from listening to a series on emerging artists in Africa?Quist-Arcton: That culture is one of the most important things that ties us together, across borders, across this planet. But when it comes to quality in art, music or whatever it is in the artistic field, these are the things that draw us together. We all say, “My goodness, what a marvelous voice.” Those are the things that bring us together. There’s so much in the world that keeps us apart, that divides us but culture, music, literature, art, custom and tradition, those are the things we all hold so important and those are the things that make the world work.Shelton: For many people, when they think about Africa, they think about the tragedies that have visited that continent. But it seems with this series, you’re pointing to the future and highlighting the beautiful things that are and will continue to happen in Africa. Is that your intention?Quist-Arcton: Absolutely. And I blame myself too because I am a news reporter and I do report on the tragedies of Africa and the conflicts of Africa. And of course, that’s part of what’s happening on the continent of Africa but as I said, that you have this whole wave of artists, not just young ones. There are people in their 70’s and 80’s who for very many years have been telling the cultural history of Africa, who have been in the past, in the present and will be in the future saying, “This is a continent you must look at with many eyes.” This isn’t just a continent of conflict and poverty. This is a continent where people are being creative. It’s important not only to recognize it but to be able to listen to it or to hear it or to watch it because this is very much a part of the continent now, the continent in the past and very much in the future. So I hope the listeners of KSMU will enjoy this series on the emerging voices of Africa. It’s only a start. We hope to bring you many more. We certainly enjoyed speaking to these artists and bringing their stories to you.