By: Sallu Kamuskay
Alhassan Hafiz Bakarr-Kanu Sr is a Sierra Leonean born in Sierra Leone, He briefly attended the Sierra Leone Grammar school and later moved to America where he further his education, career, and family.
Growing up in the United State of America, he admired the media and opportunities that were available for the Americans and it migrants. He was carried away and inspired that one day he is also going to create the opportunity for Sierra Leoneans and Africans to have the platform to listen and watch to their own songs, videos, films, promote and market the African ideology in the diaspora.
In 1998, when he was in college, He was inspired to promote and market clubs in the university he attended. After realizing that there was no opportunity for Africans to listen to African music. He founded the “Mama Africa production” as a company to promote, support and market African music and culture. In 2005, He founded the “African radio” with the aim of making African music go viral since there was less attention given to promoting African music and culture online. They began shows like the “African Kitchen”, “African parlor”, and “one on one with Hafiz” with the sole aim of promoting African music and African culture. From these shows, they were able to promote Emmerson, Awilo, and many other stars from across Africa. After some time, they decided to go online so that the whole world can get the best out of African Music and gain more popularity. The africanradioonline.com came into immediate existence which was one of the first online radio stations for Africans and African music.
Here is an exclusive interview with him after 20 years in the entertainment industry
How long have you been in the entertainment industry and what are some of the impacts you have created?
“I have been in the entertainment industry since 1998. since then I have helped a lot of online radio stations and websites to get started and grow. I so much believe in Africa. In 2014 I decided to form a tech company called “Techfrica” with the goal of bringing Technology to Africans by Africans, with this, we created a mobile app known as “Appsfrica” which will develop mobile apps for us and other companies. With this, we wanted to create an app that will be bringing music, radio, and videos together in one platform and enabling African artists to earn through their music. From “Techfrica” and “appsfrica”, “Audiofrica” was
born, a music platform, app, and a website that has been built to promote and market African artists, their music and bridge the gap with the African Diaspora artists and also earn money through the streaming and selling of their songs online.
My team and I have sacrificed and invested thousands of dollars just to stream and air African songs back then.”
What is audiofrica?
“Audiofrica is an online music platform and mobile app that was born out of the “Techfrica/appsfrica” company with the aim of promoting and marketing Africa music to the world. The “audiofrica app” can be easily downloaded from any android devices on Google play store, apple store, and or access through the website at www.audiofrica.com. I thought it fit that it would be better if African artists have a platform that is respectable and well branded to take them to the world, enhance their career and bring income to them with the hope of bringing the African communities together. What I call it the new hope of Africa “
What was your inspiration?
My inspiration was knowing fully well that my culture, my people, the artists have a place and platform that is respectable to promote and market the African music and Africa culture. We already know that most of these famous platforms are not created for African artistes, they do not benefit African artistes. Most of the African artists you see and hear about today that their songs are now playing in some major platforms, back then, I use to pay huge amounts of money for their songs to be played on radio stations. I did so because I wanted the people to know that Africa music and my culture was something that needed to be heard and I believe that music is from Africa too. My hope is for our entertainers to have a place where they can call home and work with a platform where their music could earn them money to be able to feed their families and enhance their career and most importantly to promote and market Africa as a whole”
How was it like when the first song hit 12,000 streams on audiofrica as a CEO in just 20 days?
“12,000 streams, wow, it was really amazing, I and my team felt good when the first artist reached 12000 streams. The artist himself earned money out of his God-given talent. A platform that has been around for a couple of years and has been promoting and marketing African music to have now introduced the Pay per stream to help the artists earn income. Before this time, we saw that it was very difficult for them to be selling their songs. People listen to their music but the artiste themselves remain broke. Introducing this pay per stream and the 12,000 streams sound really amazing to us at audiofrica and we appreciate all those people from around the world taking their time to download the app or visit the website to listen to songs. I want to tell them that they are helping to promote their African brothers
and sisters. The Pay per stream paid out starts at 1000k streams to qualify, then 5k, 10k, 20k, etc. “
What is your relationship with the entertainment industry in Sierra Leone and Africa as a whole?
“My relationship with the entertainment industry in my country Sierra Leone and Africa has been always been good, professional and helpful, I have been working behind the scene tirelessly to see things happen, a lot of people who see or get to know what I have done, they may not have seen me facially, but they may have worked with my brands, like “African Radio”, “African radio online”, “African on blast”, “Salone on blast” and many other platforms. I believe they respect that and they respect me for that too. I am looking forward to having a functioning relationship here at the United States of America where I base presently and with my country Sierra Leone where I am from and Africa as a whole.”
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What is your message to the entertainment industry?
“My message to entertainers is this if you are looking for support, support others. Entertainers always ask, why people are not sharing my music, why are people not buying my music. You have to ask yourself, have you bought someone else’s music, have you shared someone else’s music. And again, we have to be patient. I have been doing this for over 21 years now, some may do it for one year and get lucky, but most of the time it takes time and hard work. I will say you need to know yourself, what you want to do, and don’t be scared to change. You have to be willing to work with others. Learn what is new, if social media is a new marketing tool and you are not used to it, make sure you learn it. Work on your social media platforms, your biography should be in some major platforms like Wikipedia, Google, and more. Ensure you take professional pictures. Remember that we are all in this together, if you want support, support others. “