Afrikan Boy Performs At A Migrant Camp In Calais, France In ‘Border Business The Documentary’

In Afrikan Boy's 'Border Business The Documentary' the Nigerian MC visits a refugee camp in Calais, France where he connects and performs.

Last month we shared Afrikan Boy’s “Border Business,” a single about the plight of Nigerian immigrants in London. The rapper readdresses the issue in Border Business The Documentary, a 15-minute video which follows Afrikan Boy as he heads to a refugee camp in Calais, France that currently holds 4,000 migrants seeking asylum in neighboring countries.

While there, the artist connects with young camp dwellers from Sudan and elsewhere who share details about what the journey to Calais was like and discuss their hopes for the future. The documentary also includes clips from Afrikan Boy’s rousing performance that took place during his visit.

Border Business The Documentary gives a glimpse into daily life at the camp, offering a humanizing view of a place commonly referred to as “The Jungle.” “People are still being human, being people and it just so happens that this is a part of their journey. It’s also humbling to see that humanity and dignity hasn’t been lost” says Afrikan Boy.

View the full documentary below and revisit Afrikan Boy’s “Border Business” single.


6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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