When will American artists recognise Africa as part of the world?

Alicia Keys announces re-scheduled 2021 tour dates | Image: screenshot (Twitter)

If including African cities in a musical or comedy tour is just too much work, how about we normalise not referring to it as a ‘world’ tour?

For years, music journalists, pop culture commentators and music fans alike have pondered, discussed and debated the true meaning of a “world tour”. A phrase used by most American and European artists to advertise tours that somehow conveniently erase an entire continent from the world map.

In recent years, it has become even more of a contentious issue given the new-found love for Africa by American artists.

With films like Black Panther and Black is King and musical projects like the Black Panther soundtrack and Beyonce’s The Gift (a soundtrack for the live-action Lion King movie), one can only wonder if Africa serves as nothing more than a source of content for marketing purposes or a costume to be worn in pursuit of profit.

While the likes of Beyonce (and Jay Z), Drake, and Rihanna have come under fire for not touring Africa in recent years, Alicia Keys has joined their ranks after announcing new dates for her world tour on Twitter.

Alicia: The World Tour will mostly visit American cities with a few stops in Europe but that’s about it. That is where the world, according to her team, begins and ends.

No South American tour dates, no Asian tour dates and definitely no Africa.

The most popular argument for this exclusion of African cities in tours is often made on the grounds that we simply could not be able to afford it. However, in the case of Alicia Keys, whose tour prices range between R650 and R15,000 for general tickets to VIP packages, these aren’t prices that have gone unheard of in South Africa.

While the somewhat sensible, but unproven, argument that there just isn’t as much money in touring cities on these other continents has often been offered up as the reason, there have been some very bizarre reasons provided on various online forums.

One ill-informed Virgina-based user on a Quora thread wrote: “Much of Africa is Muslim. If you have ever heard about problems for pop stars playing in places like Malaysia, you can understand why they don’t go to Africa too much.

“A goodly amount of Africa is desert or rural countryside. I don’t want to perpetuate the stereotype that it’s all jungle and natives, but there is a large population of the continent and its states that live a nomadic existence.”

Others believe that African’s taste in English music never evolved beyond the ’80s and that we love our own music more than anything some of the world’s biggest artists could create.

There also seems to be a prevailing view that African countries are rife with political instability and that artists do not have enough security to keep themselves safe from these imaginary hostile political situations.

These opinions are formed without taking the recent visits of artists such as Migos, Chance the Rapper, Travis Scott and Santana into consideration.

If the likes of Guns n Roses, Lady Gaga, and Justin Beiber can perform on the continent without incident, surely their collective experience should be enough of a knowledge base for promoters and concert organisers to draw from in order to develop a concrete plan for other artists with fans on the continent.

And if that’s too much work, how about we normalise not referring to it as a “world” tour?

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