Dancing to the tune of the Africa Express

Musicians, DJs and producers are coming together to deliver African beats and music to the UK.

by

    London's Euston Station is hardly the most salubrious place to hang out on a Sunday, what with people rushing around to catch their connections.

    But on this cold September morning - something rather special stopped passengers in their tracks.

    Platform 18 has been turned into a makeshift stage for more than 80 artists about to board the train named after the collective's namesake: Africa Express.

    The locomotive itself is colourful - its carriages adorned with flags, representing many of the countries the musicians are from.  Inside one of those carriages is Tony Allen, who is widely regarded as one of the founders of Afrobeat.  He's already found a set of sticks and without a blink of an eye, provides perfect sound at a stroke.

    Many of the musicians, DJs and producers on board the train are from Africa.  They include the Senegalese superstar Baaba Maal and Ghana's M.ANIFEST.  

    Music has the ''power to push any kind of boundaries'', M.ANIFEST told Al Jazeera.

    Those taking part will spend the next few days on board this old rolling stock travelling around England, Scotland and Wales - stopping off for preplanned and impromptu gigs.
     
    The Express was co-founded by the Blur frontman Damon Albarn. Since then, hundreds of musicians have toured Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria and parts of Europe.  This is the first time the collective has used a train to get around, though.

    When I asked Albarn whether 'Africa Express' had a political message, he told me ''just by doing it is a political statement of intent, about unity and understanding and living together, making music together''.

    The enthusiam on Platform 18 was infectious. Suddenly, we heard the conductor shout ''All Aboard'' and off they went.

    Africa Express pulled out (on time incidentally), and the sound of instruments could just be heard above the roar of the locamotive.  I only wish I'd been able to go along too.


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