Each year, on 30 April, music lovers around the world celebrate International Jazz Day to 'honour jazz and its enduring legacy, as well as its power to bring people together,' says Audrey Azoulay, the director-general of the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), which works to promote global peace, justice and rule of law.
Jazz events held each year in different countries around the globe culminate in the International Jazz Day, a star-studded musical concert in a major city. This year it took place in Melbourne, Australia. Other cities have hosted the event since 2012, when the UN headquarters in New York City hosted the inaugural.
In 2020 it will be the turn of Cape Town, South Africa. While the selection could be a recognition of a vibrant and creative local jazz industry-the city has its own annual jazz festival-it is also a reminder of the role music played in South Africans' struggle for equal rights, as well as the enduring legacy of jazz across Africa.
'In celebrating jazz, the world celebrates more than the music,' UNESCO's Corine Dubois told Africa Renewal. 'It also celebrates creativity, partnerships and collaborations as much as freedom of expression.'
According to Ms. Dubois, jazz 'promotes the Sustainable Development Goals...and fosters dialogue among cultures.'
But back in 2018, New Orleans, a historically and culturally renowned American city on the Mississippi River, was honoured by a special concert as the city celebrated its 300th anniversary.
Mitch Landrieu, the mayor at the time, could barely contain his enthusiasm. 'Oh man! It is so nice to be here,' he exclaimed. 'You know where jazz was created? In New Orleans. Right down the street, the only place in the world it could have been created.'
As the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, a New Orleans group, ushered in the proceedings, making its way around the inside of the city's Orpheum Theatre hall and filling the air with a celebratory, jolly mood, in tow was a bouncing larger-than-life mascot of a smiling Louis Armstrong, also known as Satchmo, the famous trumpeter and jazz singer.
The procession evoked the image of a grinning Armstrong being feted in Leopoldville, now Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 1960. There he was triumphally carried into a stadium by local fans ahead of a concert.
Mr. Armstrong's visit to the Congo was one of his many to Africa and was part of the US government's Jazz Ambassadors programme...