Beverly Bond's BLACK GIRLS ROCK! will be launching an extension in Africa in 2016.

Muthoni The Drummer Queen performs live at Africa Nouveau in Nairobi (Photo: Darlyne Komukama)

Originally launched in the U.S., the young women’s empowerment organization BLACK GIRLS ROCK! will soon extend its reach overseas. Founder Beverly Bond recently announced the upcoming 2016 launch of BLACK GIRLS ROCK! AFRICA while attending the BET Experience Africa (#BETXAfrica) music and lifestyle festival in Johannesburg.

BLACK GIRLS ROCK! AFRICA will collaborate with VIMN Africa/BET Africa to develop a Pan-African awards show to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of the organization in 2016. The BLACK GIRLS ROCK! team is also working closely with several community-based organizations to initiate several outreach initiatives, according to a press release.

"The purpose of the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! AFRICA platform is to recognize, support, and celebrate the diversity and dynamism of Black women in Africa and the African Diaspora," Bond says in the release. "BLACK GIRLS ROCK! AFRICA will tap into our growing international market by illuminating the vibrant cultures and valiant narratives of our African sisters who are (s)heroes and trailblazers."

Bond revealed the new venture during an on-stage “Genius Talk” with media mogul Khanyi Dhlomo and TV and radio personality Nikiwe Bikitsha. “The women discussed the importance of affirming platforms like BLACK GIRLS ROCK! which empowers, inspires, and encourages women and girls to be leaders in their respective fields,” reads the release.

Founded in 2006, BLACK GIRLS ROCK! has gained a large following thanks to its annual televised award show, which celebrates the achievements of Black women across various industries. Past award recipients and guests include U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, Ruby Dee, Dr. Helene D. Gayle, Cicely Tyson, Erykah Badu, Ava DuVernay and Jada Pinkett Smith.

The organization also provides a wide range of programs to Black girls and young women, including a summer camp and an after-school STEM initiative. The mission of BLACK GIRLS ROCK! is to change the world by empowering Black girls to lead, innovate, and serve, according to the organization's website.

“BLACK GIRLS ROCK! builds the self-esteem and self-worth of young women of color by changing their outlook on life, broadening their horizons and providing tools for self-empowerment and efficacy,” reads the website.

For more information on BLACK GIRLS ROCK!, head to the organization's website

Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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