In October, Rocky Dawuni, Ghana’s famed reggae talent and ambassador to 1Love, was appointed Ambassador’s membership into the United Nations Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. As a musician, Rocky has released five albums to date, and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in 2010 for “Outstanding World Music Album.” As a leader and humanitarian, he has used his music to raise awareness of important social issues facing the globe. Now, he brings each ambition up a notch to make global good an integral force of his artistry.
1Love talked to Rocky about both facets of his career, his new role at the UN, and his forthcoming album, Afro Roots. Here’s what he had to say:
There are a lot of charities out there doing a lot of good work – what makes you a great fit to be the UN Foundation Ambassador for Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, and why do you think this initiative is particularly worthwhile?
As a musician and social activist, I have championed important social issues ranging from clean water, guinea worm eradication, HIV/AIDS, environment awareness, as well as women and children’s empowerment. In this capacity, I have had the opportunity of collaborating with the Carter Center, UNICEF, (Product) RED and UN Global Fund.
When the issue related to Clean Cookstoves, household pollution was brought to my attention and I learned of its impact; it spurred me to action. There are an estimated three billion people worldwide who use various types of wood and biomass for cooking their daily meals and the pollution results in two million deaths, mostly women and children every year.
The environmental impact of cutting down trees and the inefficient energy use of stoves have also quickened deforestation in most developing countries. The fact is that this issue of clean cook stoves is closely related to all the issues I’ve worked on – the environment, women’s health and empowerment.
What will your duties entail in this role?
My duties will be to add my voice to the other Ambassadors’ – Julia Roberts and Chef Jose Andres – In raising awareness on this issue. This role started with my recent remarks during the announcement of my Ambassadorship at the Alliance event to stakeholders and government leaders during the UN General Assembly week in New York. Besides speaking at Alliance events, I will be required to also visit projects in countries that are partners in this initiative, and mention them during my concerts and media events.
How do you feel music and social action go together – where do they intersect and what are your goals within this sphere?
First of all, I strongly believe that it is the obligation of every human being to contribute their voice and efforts to further the positive aspirations of their community. Music provides a unique medium and platform for a deeper communication between a musician and an audience while creating an environment for community expression. This makes it one of the most potent tools to spotlight issues and also act as a catalyst for sustainable social and behavioral change. Throughout my career, I have been aware of these attributes and dedicated a lot of my efforts not only to singing about change and upliftment, but also being in the field to manifest it through action.
What can we expect on Afro Roots and what’s the story behind it?
Afro Roots represents the fruition of my musical convergence of the rhythm and spirit of Reggae and Afrobeat. It’s based on a personal philosophy of reconnecting the essence of Africa and the diaspora and moving it forward to a global sound that pays tribute and honors all cultures. It is a culmination of my artistic journey through my experience of living between Africa and the West. We will start with an EP and singles beginning later this year to culminate in a full-length release next year.
At 1Love, we aim to further the spirit of Bob Marley’s music through good endeavors throughout the world – how have you been inspired by music and what would you say is your one love?
Bob Marley’s music has been a guiding light and inspiration to many and to me personally as an artist. Music that projects consciousness, entertains, enlightens and makes you dance is where my heart is. Music has served as my consolation and a source of enduring hope to believe in the ultimate triumph of the human spirit over every challenge. One love represents to me a supreme state of harmonious coexistence of all cultures, religions and races.
We’re on a mission to create a million acts of kindness – what do you think is the best way to give back to the world?
That is a beautiful road to travel. Giving back starts with the small acts within your community and a compassion heart. It’s about being there for others as we all need each other and must carry each other in life. If we are genuine in our actions, whatever we give back to the world it gives back to us in the form of shared happiness and grace.
What’s the most important thing you do every day?
Prayer and meditation usually set the tone of my day and keeps me centered and focused.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Keep moving forward always!!
Thank you Rocky