Artists across West and Central Africa Help Spread the Word that Covid-19 Vaccines are Safe and Effective

07 April 2021
KIdjo speaks at an event
UNICEF

NEW YORK/GENEVE/DAKAR, 7 April 2021 – As we celebrate World Health Day today, UNICEF is very pleased to announce that world-renowned artists from Africa Angelique Kidjo, Calema, Cobhams Asuqo, Magic System and Safiath are joining us to promote confidence in COVID-19 vaccines.

A month after the start of the historic roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines in several West and Central African countries and other parts of the world – and record levels of vaccine misinformation – it is more important than ever to amplify the message that vaccines are safe and effective. Vaccines safe lives.

“We have a critical window of opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of COVID-19 immunization efforts, to combat misinformation and address vaccine hesitancy,” said UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Marie-Pierre Poirier. “Rumours and misinformation literally cost lives by discouraging people to seek vaccination, the best tool available to avoid contracting and spreading deadly vaccine-preventable diseases, including COVID-19. I applaud the commitment of national governments, and of these talented artists and influential community members, who are calling for everyone to support COVID-19 immunization efforts.”

“I am here to tell you that vaccines save lives.  As a child, I was vaccinated and I will get immunized against COVID-19 when the vaccine becomes available to me,” said Benin-born singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Angelique Kidjo in a video to be released and promoted on social media today. In May last year, Angelique Kidjo re-recorded Miriam Makeba’s 1967 hit song ‘Pata Pata’, to spread information about COVID-19, and reached hundreds of millions of people, including in remote communities around the world. Kidjo’s version was heard on more than 100 radio stations across Africa, as well as in the USA and Europe.

“As Nigerians and as Africans, we have gone through too much to let this virus hold us back and endanger our futures that we are fighting so hard to make better. We need to do whatever we can to safeguard our future,” said Cobhams Asuquo, award-winning Nigerian musician and producer. “Vaccines have been saving the lives of Nigerian and children for many years – and we have to make sure they continue to.  Thanks to vaccines, I know that my children will not have to suffer from polio, measles or smallpox. Thanks to vaccines, I know that I will not end up in the hospital with COVID-19 – leaving my family on their own. That is because vaccines work. They save lives.” In 2020, UNICEF Nigeria Ambassador Cobhams Asuqo produced the song “We Go Win (COVID)” to fight rumours and misinformation on Covid-19.

“We have two choices: either we stay idle and let the virus destroy what we built, or we stand up and use the vaccines as a weapon against Covid-19. Together, we are stronger,” said Fradique Mendes Ferreira from the band Calema, who was appointed UNICEF Sao Tome e Principe Ambassador, together with his brother, António Mendes Ferreira.

«COVID-19 vaccines present a real opportunity for us to get back to normal. For the art world, which has been severly impacted by the crisis, the vaccine is giving us hope that we’ll soon be able to reconnect with our fans. I encourage everyone, even those who are not yet sure about it, to get vaccinated in order to support health authorities’ efforts to fight back against the pandemic », said A’salfo from music sensation band Magic System in Côte d’Ivoire.

“Vaccines have prevented polio, chickenpox and measles from spreading for generations. Soon, vaccines will help slow the spread of COVID-19 too,” said singer Safiath. UNICEF’s “Stronger with breastmilk only” campaign got a boost last year when Safiath, a popular artist in Niger, produced a song to support its awareness raising efforts.

  

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About UNICEF

For more information, please contact:
 

Sandra Bisin, Communication Chief, UNICEF West and Central Africa, sbisin@unicef.org

James Elder, Spokesperson, UNICEF Geneva, jelder@unicef.org

Christopher Tidey, UNICEF New York, +1 917 340 3017, ctidey@unicef.org

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James Maiden
Chief of Communications
UNICEF Zimbabwe
Tel: +263 772 124 268

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