1Xtra takes Africa week to the world

DJ Edu at Fela Kuti's house DJ Edu at Fela Kuti's house during his week-long trip to Lagos

Some exclusive 1Xtra content, showcasing the booming African music scene, is being opened up to millions of people around the world - thanks to a bit of BBC collaboration.

Destination Africa, which runs throughout this week on the black music station, includes live music, artist interviews and documentary material recorded during 1Xtra's recent visit to Lagos in Nigeria.

But viewers around the world can also watch some of the performances - which span afrobeats and afropop to African hip hop and house - on Focus on Africa, the BBC World News programme that broadcasts every day around the globe.

'The aim of the project was for 1Xtra's content to reach as many people as possible who'd be interested in new and exciting music coming out of Africa,' Rachel Mallender, 1Xtra's editor tells Ariel.

Where all that content's going

  • This is New Africa, a documentary exploring the booming African music market, kicked off Destination Africa on Sunday.
  • Trevor Nelson's Live Lounge is featuring some of the biggest names in afrobeats all week.
  • DJ Edu's five hour special wraps up the 1Xtra week on Sunday.
  • Focus on Africa's Nigeria Xtra strand is going out each day this week, from 5.30-6.30pm.
  • World Service's Newsday and Focus on Africa radio show will reversion content collected in Lagos, as will Dira TV in Swahili and BBC Afrique in French.
  • DJ Edu is launching his own playlist on BBC Playlister.

'From the start it was only natural to reach out to other areas of the BBC who could help achieve this and make it really impactful.'

'Too good to refuse'

The station drew up a plan based on its creative ideas and access to some of Africa's biggest artists (Wizkid, 2 Face, Iyanya among them) and pitched it to the wider BBC.

The World Service business development department was first to bite, offering useful contacts with partner radio stations in Lagos that could help provide venues for the performances, as well as contacts to help with accommodation and visas.

The department also scheduled a commercial training event for the partner stations to coincide with 1Xtra's visit, while putting the station in touch with Focus on Africa.

The proposal was too good to turn down, says the programme's editor Stephane Mayoux, who agreed to co-fund and co-produce the project.

'Focus on Africa's mission is about telling the whole of Africa's story - every day,' he explains. 'The programme's coverage goes far beyond the daily stories about politics, power, crises. We have daily guests and stories about music, movies and the arts in general. The 1Xtra Lagos offer was too good to refuse.'

Senior broadcast journalist Kathy Harcombe produced the hour-long tv programmes that feature some of the Lagos performances, which are also being reversioned for some World Service tv and radio outlets.

Five hour special

'It was impossible to resist the opportunity to work with the UK's top black music station in showcasing the hottest artists and the coolest sounds coming out of Nigeria today,' says Harcombe. 'And it was a chance to work once again with the amazing DJ Edu, who has been a friend of Focus on Africa TV since we launched.'

DJ Edu, who hosts 1Xtra's afrobeats show on Sunday evenings, travelled to Lagos to collect the rich mix of content for both radio and tv.

He will present a five-hour Destination Africa special this Sunday, with interviews and performances recorded while he was there.

'All in all, it's a very exciting week,' reflects Mallender, 'which has started an exciting new collaboration between BBC World and 1Xtra. No doubt there will be many more opportunities in the future.'

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