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by World Music Network May 05, 2016


Human Rights 2016 Award Winner: Angélique Kidjo

Angélique Kidjo has been sitting atop the upper-echelon of artists who have influenced and inspired a generation of people for some time now.  But most recently has followed suite with the likes of: Nelson Mandela, U2, Ai Weiwei, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Peter Gabriel, Harry Belafonte, Malala Yousafzai, plus many more, garnering the prestigious Amnesty International Human Rights award for 2016.

Angélique Kidjo’s voice has been pivotal in the role of campaigner and as spokesperson against female genital mutilation, delivering education to females living in Africa (The Batonga Foundation) and human rights (Africa for Women’s Rights).

Born in Benin, Kidjo came from a family who were rooted deeply in the arts, whose parents encouraged her and her brothers to pursue their musicianship.

Over the years Angélique’s musical career rapidly gained enough momentum to gain the attention of the then government; The People’s Republic of Benin (who politically aligned themselves to Marxist-Leninist philosophies and ideologies). The government eventually made attempts to pressure Kidjo to record anthems driven by political agendas. This hindered and restricted Kidjo’s freedom to express musically.

Due to the complications surrounding the future of Kidjo’s music career if she were to stay in Benin she decided to flee to Paris, France in the early 1980s. This served as a catalyst to the human rights work Angélique Kidjo is now regarded and awarded for.

The Amnesty International award for this year is also shared amongst the following important movements and groups: LUCHA, Le Balai Citoyen and Y’en a marre.

The ceremony takes place in Dakar, Senegal, 28 May 2016.