“It started off as a concept, me and Mike was actually speaking about creating music universities all throughout Africa,” he told TMZ in a recent interview. “I’m giving them the tools, the instruments, the knowledge of the business. Just kind of help them with facilities that help them polish up their skills, because Africa got so much talent. This is one of the main motivations when I went into Nigeria back then, the whole start and support all those young artists for afrobeat and things like this.”
Unfortunately, the two were never able to realize their plans when Jackson died suddenly from cardiac arrest in June, 2009. At the time of his death, he was planning an extensive series of comeback shows across the globe.
“The schools haven’t happened yet, it was just a conversation that we had but it’s something I do want to follow-up on,” Akon added, upon which he was asked if he would still want to go through with the schools because of MJ’s complicated legacy. “If people knew who he really was and understood the story behind it, that wouldn’t be a legacy question like you know what Mike did for the culture. It shouldn’t even be a thought, but ultimately the powers that be in America work a little different when it comes to Black and brown people.”
While Jackson’s legacy as far as his contributions to music is difficult to dispute, his place in pop culture was called into question following the airing of Leaving Neverland in 2019. The documentary looked at the accusations that Jackson sexually abused two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, when they were children. During his career, Jackson faced allegations of child sexual abuse in the mid ‘90s and the early ‘00s.
Jackson settled a lawsuit with an accuser in ‘93, and later went to trial over charges he abused then 13-year-old Garin Arivo in 2005. He was found not guilty at the time.
Akon previously spoke of the plans to open music schools in Africa in a recent interview with HipHopDX. He said he plans to build a school in Akon City, his in-development $4 billion city in Senegal. "Even in Akon City in the educational district the first one will be built in there and I’m naming it after the Michael Jackson Foundation," he said. "So I’m gonna be naming it MJ University.”