Gerami's Blog

The Power of Music


The Power of Music

Reflecting on a transformative experience for an artist citizen in Swaziland


Gerami Groover

Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative

Reciprocal Exchange Fellow 2016 (Swaziland)


August 5, 2016 was an important day for me, for it not only marked the first day of the longest travel I have ever made, but it was also a day that marked my “dream come true”, I was finally going to Africa. There was a rush of excitement that came over my body once I passed through the gate at Logan airport. I remember when President Obama had made his announcement about creating an initiative for young African leaders, in hopes to build international relations between a host of  young African and American professionals, individuals whom are identified as being the future leaders of their countries. I so deeply wanted to be apart of this initiative in some way, luckily enough I was not only able to meet one of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) fellows, Miliswa Mamba (Swaziland) in the summer of 2015, but I was extremely blessed to have been considered to be one of the first cohort of Americans to travel to Africa as a YALI reverse fellow! This was truly a dream come true! 

I remember being  extremely anxious with numerous questions swirling through my mind, would my project be a success? And will I represent the initiative well? As I embarked on that  two day journey to Southern Africa, there was one larger sequence of questions that remained, which became both my biggest hope and yet fear;  can and will the power of music bridge the gap between two cultures, create awareness and become a vehicle of social change for the young people of Swaziland?

Emandla Emculo (Power of Music) is a joint initiative between Miliswa Mamba (Mandela Washington Fellow’15) and I, that would provide a high caliber two-week (August 8-19th) formal music education program, business forum and benefit concert to more than 150 Swazi youth, local officials, non/for profit leaders, scholars, educators, local and international artists. This initiative will influence and cultivate young artist citizens with the mission to promote social responsibility and cultural appreciation through the arts. Emandla Emculo hosted a business forum that allowed the exchanging of innovative concepts and engaging conversations regarding two topics: The importance of music in Swazi culture and the importance of music education from a global and national perspective. The forum produced action steps on how Emandla Emculo along with our partners will make possible to provide full high-quality music education programs in every school district, allowing the continued advancement of musicianship for all young Swazi artists regardless of their socio-economic status.

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