“If there’s one word that describes Omékongo Dibinga, it's passion,” CNN declared when it honored this international motivational youth speaker, diversity educator, and poetic hip-hop artist in their 2013 iReport Spirit Awards.
From that passion, Omékongo sings that we “can bring light to dark if you just follow your heart” in “Faceless,” a song he wrote and performs on United Artists for Change, a 13-track digital album that raises funds to benefit the Abolish Slavery Coalition. 70% of album proceeds will support their work to rescue victims of trafficking and restore them in aftercare programs.
The darkness the album intends to penetrate with awareness and prompt a response is the atrocity of modern slavery, estimated to be the plight of 27,000,000 men, women, and children in the world—more than twice the number taken during 250 years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
The album project was initiated by co-producers Gia Ibarra, founder of Music4Freedom, and Meg Nezaj, their organization’s music campaigns coordinator. Ibarra, in Southern California, is a human rights activist dedicated to advocacy on behalf of oppressed, abused, and exploited worldwide. Nezaj is a poet and abstract artist, renowned for her action painting, and is based in Zurich, Switzerland.
Why fight slavery with music? Ibarra explained, “Throughout history music has been utilized as a source of inspiration, healing as well as an educational and advocacy tool in demanding an end to slavery; promoting equality, justice and freedom. Music was a common form of advocacy for both slaves and abolitionists from the early 1830’s onward. Let us join forces through activism and music to further awaken the cause to abolish slavery, human trafficking in our lifetime."
Nezaj said, “This album is the result of a two year production & music collaboration between international artists, composers, beat-makers and producers. The album lyrics focus primarily on human trafficking; child labour, child soldiers, sex trafficking, domestic servitude and violence against women.”
Omékongo echoed the co-producers vision and conviction, “I believe art can not only educate but liberate and that is why I am so deeply humbled and honored to be part of this incredible, liberating and educational project."
Liberation, of course, is at the core of the project and its invitation to others to be part of the process simply by purchasing the album and letting its songs illuminate, inspire, and activate. In another of his songs on the album, Omékongo challenges the free about inaction: “Cuz the only thing worse than being a slave, man, is finding out the world knew and didn’t give a damn.“