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Jay-Z's Battle for Clean Water in Africa

Posted by Walter Gido on

Jay-Z's Battle for Clean Water in Africa

Nov. 27, Not content just to live the life of an ultra-wealthy rap mogul, Jay-Z started searching for something that would allow him to give back to the world. After doing some research he learned that the lack of clean water is a global crisis that blights the lives of millions of people every day. The United Nations estimates that more than 1 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water and more than 2.6 billion live without proper sanitation. In order to see these problems firsthand, Jay-Z approached MTV and invited a crew to follow him during visits to Angola and South Africa. But he wanted to do more than entertain and meet and greet fans.


The result is a public awareness campaign launched by the United Nations and spearheaded by a 30-minute documentary, "Diary of Jay-Z: Water for Life,"\The documentary follows Jay-Z during two visits to Angola, then Durban, South Africa. In the town of Luanda, Angola, he followed 14-year-old Bela, who must fetch and carry 40 pounds of water, twice a day. When he offered to help share the burden and carry the water on a one-half-mile trek, he was taken aback by the sheer strength that was required. 

But if he found trekking for clean water a challenge, nothing had prepared him for his next experience in Luanda: the absence of any proper sanitation. Bela and her fellow students must walk across an open sewer on their way to school every day. It runs down the middle of the town's main road. And as the camera shot widens it reveals market traders selling food on the side of the same road and boys playing basketball  literally in the sewer.

The entire sequence clearly had an impact on Jay-Z and is in stark contrast to his lifestyle as one of the world's most successful rappers. His music, Rocawear clothing label and other businesses are now worth well over $300 million. Jay-Z admitted that it has taken time for him to appreciate the value of his riches.

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