June 27, 2014
Brigid Pasco

OKFestival Artists Spotlight: Juliani and Valsero

On Wednesday, July 16, internationally acclaimed political musicians Valsero (Cameroon) and Juliani (Kenya) will team up to lead the Open Knowledge Festival workshop Packaging Your Message, Mobilizing the Public: Collaborative Music Production for Everyone. The session is open to both musicians and non-musicians, and aims to help participants convey messages creatively. Through the workshop, Juliani and Valsero will explain their own creative processes and artistic/political contexts, and lead an exploration of how to convey complex ideas simply and effectively.


Photo Courtesy Valsero

Neither artist is a stranger to crafting a political message: Cameroonian star Valsero’s outspoken songs have seen him in conflict with the reigning Biya administration, of which he and his fans are openly critical. Banned by public media, and facing diminished bookings from fearful concert organizers, Valsero refuses to rid his music of its political bite. In a country where criticizing the president can earn one jail time, “The General” (as his fans call him) steps up to the challenge and calls on youth to express themselves and make their voices heard. Valsero also works with the Cameroonian NGO Citizens’ Association for the Defense of Collective Interests (ACDIC) to raise awareness and promote participation in campaigns for economic, social, and political change.

The Kenyan-based powerhouse Juliani has earned his fair share of international attention. Not only has he garnered many awards for his musical talents, he has also been a voice for social action: he has used his fame to support various causes, even representing Kenya at the UN Climate Change Conference in 2009. His hands-on, community based approach to change has seen him plant over one thousand trees while touring Kenya. His “Kama Si Sisi” initiative calls on Kenyan youth to become a force of positive change, “taking care of yourself by taking care of others.”

These two artists focus on bringing community involvement to critical issues, and encouraging others to find their own voice. Participants in this workshop are encouraged to bring instruments, ideas, and a willingness to create and share a message. The video below highlights the process of the collaborative workshop.

This session will take place from 14:00-15:00 on July 16.

For more information on the OKFestival schedule, please click here.

Juliani and Valsero will also perform the closing OKFestival concert on July 17 at 17:00.