Sunday, July 10, 2011

There was a slight but much appreciated rehabilitation of my worth as an African today, since I had felt I might as well return to Ladbroke Grove now, covered in ashes, a paper bag over my head. Three days a go a little Griot named Karim appeared out of the blue with his Goni (West African string instrument.) He came from Yangassou, a small town between San and Bla, on the road between Bamako and Djenne. He said he had heard of Hotel Djenne Djenno and believed that there may be work here. I told him that there were no toubabos around, so there would be no work in the near future. Meanwhile I had already begun to feel responsible for him. Was it true that he had travelled all that way? He said the members of his orchestra had all gone to work in their fields to sow. I asked the little Griot why he hadn’t gone too. ‘ I have no fields to sow’ he said quite simply. My heart melted and I said: let’s hear what you can do: sing me something. So he did. He has a lovely soulful voice and plays his Goni well. ‘OK’ I said. There are some toubabos here on Sunday, you can stay until then, help Boubakar in the garden and play on Sunday night. I will give you your food and lodging and pay your journey back and forth to Yangassou plus pay you something for your concert on Sunday night.
But the little Griot wanted to start playing straight away, so he serenaded me alone last night, and tonight as well, although tonight there were some guests. He has invented a song with the Bambara words above: CISE MUSO A TE FEN JUGU DI A DEN MA. That is apparently a song about me, about how the mother hen will only bring good things to her chicks amongst whom he counts himself…
I listened to the little Griot Karim who really sings very well, and I thought how very superior Mali is in so many ways, but in ways that do not matter in the big commercial picture of this world. Karim’s music, very simple but very profound nevertheless, is quite excellent in quality. Probably much better that what one could hope to find in most little towns in England on a non descript Saturday night. But music does not run the world, alas…


Blogger Frances said...

While music such as overhead music doesn't really run the world, it somehow influences the people who listen to the music.

5:29 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home