May 18, 2020 / 10:07 AM / 6 days ago

Live music lifts spirits in Burkina Faso's coronavirus curfew

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - On stage in an empty auditorium, backed by starry lights, Patrick Kabre plucks his electric guitar and sings through a microphone to an audience many miles away.

Kabre is contributing to COVID-Live, a series of sessions by musicians broadcast in real time on Facebook to people across Burkina Faso who have been under curfew for months.

The aim is to bring some relief, in the form of song and dance, to one of the world’s least developed countries, where the new coronavirus is spreading fast and a lack of resources means medical facilities are overstretched.

“The idea is to turn all our projects into little joys, which together bring great joy,” Kabre said. 

“To play in an empty hall is... a real challenge. But at the same time, it is something we have always done because when we compose or when we are creating, we are always imagining that we are in front of the public.”

The sessions, which have been broadcast for the past three weekends, are an extension of music festivals that Kabre and others have put together in recent years to speak out against violence.

Burkina Faso has been overrun by a jihadist insurgency since 2018, which had forced about a million people to flee their homes, many of whom are stuck in crowded camps with few protections while the pandemic rages.

Sitting on her living room sofa, Oumou Compaore watched the whole show live on her phone, singing and dancing along. She said it felt just like being there.

“This was a first for me. It was really interesting... Seeing these dancers writhing like that as well, it made me want to join them,” Compaore said.

Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Gareth Jones

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