June 20, 2007
At first I used to regard claims of Ivorian music being superior in entertainment value to Congolese music as absurd, but now…well I still do :-D. It’s just that more than ever before you West Africans out there truly believe the hype. When I speak of music I’m referring of course to Soukous and Coupé-Décalé (C-D), musical genres born in DR Congo and Cote D’Ivoire respectively. Although C-D is a lot younger than Soukous, it has grown in popularity as quickly as it took the Spurs to handle the Cavs (can you tell I’m a NBA fan:-D). Ok you get it, in just a few years it has spread like the plague, to the point where you can now hear shouts of “travaillement”, “pan pan saute-mouton”, “Saga-citer” – and other cries typical to a C-D tune – in Soukous songs. Despite its rise in popularity (there’s even a Coupé-Décalé work-out DVD out there!), I maintain that it is absurd to think that it is taking over from Soukous since the former heavily borrows in style from the latter. In fact you can often hear some Lingala phrases in C-D! I’m not hating though, it is very fun to dance although I must admit to my initial reluctance to catch the fever. Perhaps what makes C-D fun is the fact that there so many variants out there such as Décalé Chinois (Chinese Décalé), grippe aviaire (bird flu), Drogba-citer (after the Ivoirian footballer) etc. much more ways to express yourself than just Ndombolo for instance:-D. Today at almost every African party, it is a must for DJs to have a Soukous and a C-D play list. It’s just not an African party without those 2. Still, my loyalty remains with Soukous. Ok…maybe I’m a little biased being Congolese and all, but what do you think?
You can watch clips of Coupé-Décalé and Soukous here.
June 8, 2007
First off, let me say that I have nothing against Nigerians; in fact I believe they’re perhaps the most intelligent and resourceful of all Africans (and I have lots of them as friends). I mean, everywhere I’ve lived in Africa, if you needed to be ‘hooked up’ with bootleg cable service or any tech related service (on the low-low:-D), Nigerians are who you would turn to. This is just to show you how entrepreneurial they are; although I believe they could use their skills towards a more positive purpose. Sadly, it seems a few around the globe have earned Nigerians an infamous reputation as con artists, crooks and all sorts of criminal denominations, such that one cannot help but think of the stereotype whenever Nigeria is mentioned. It is unfortunate that with all the positive things happening to the country lately (democratic elections, Nollywood etc.) that the image of Nigeria be tarnished by a few low-life scammers and con artists. And did you see some time ago that special 20/20 on ABC about Nigerian scammers? It basically denounced to a nationwide audience the confidence trick known as 419 and some of its variations. Some of the perpetrators were even caught on camera and confessed to their crime in a dramatic display worthy of any Nollywood flick. All I kept thinking while watching was “Gosh! What is America going to think of us now?”
As for the reason for the rise of confidence tricks in Nigeria, it’s been suggested that the phenomenon was a result of a declining economy in the 90’s. Many who found themselves unemployed resorted to scam wealthy western visitors for easy money. The rest as they say is history…
Photo source: joyoftech.com
May 31, 2007
One not so absurd idea has been lingering in my mind for some time now, and it’s that of a once-in-a lifetime pilgrimage to Africa for all persons of African descent. I believe this would be a great opportunity for all to acknowledge their roots. Even hip-hop superstar Jay-Z – who visited the continent last year during his Water for Life Tour – was quoted as saying that “you have to go and understand what’s going on and embrace your people”. A pilgrimage would also be beneficial in that it could help see things in perspective and familiarize the pilgrims to the realities of Africa. You’ll agree with me that most Americans know very little about the Africa (no wonder it’s called the forgotten continent), fine but see, that ignorance is kind of hurtful coming from a Black American. I suppose being of the same skin color and all, lots of us Africans make the mistake of assuming that we share the same connection to the Motherland, but the truth is we do not always. I’ve had my share of silly questions as I am sure you did also (by the way we find that stuff on National Geographic equally f@%#ing amazing as did you! I mean I never knew there were so many pygmies running around the bushes in DR Congo for instance:-D). I suppose it’s like Bob Marley said “If you knew your history, you would know where you’re coming from” (from the song Buffalo Soldiers), and what’s better than a trip Home for a refresher course of history. It will be entirely a personal decision to do this but I hope that one day Black Americans (anybody of African descent really) see this once-in-a lifetime trip with the same religious importance that Muslims or Christians accord to the pilgrimage in their Holy Lands. I can’t wait to see some Black activist pushing this idea;-D.
Photo source: Africaspeaks.com
April 11, 2007
For a long time I used to think that it was mainly us (yes I’m Congolese, and no I’m dark-skin) who were so fond of this. But apparently it’s become a trend throughout the years with the Congolese, Ghanaians and Nigerians as frontrunners to name a few. So why fuck up your skin and risk getting skin cancer? Oh that’s simple…Michael Jackson! Yes I know that sounds as crazy as the OJ verdict but MJ used to be bigger a deal than one might think (second only to Mobutu, thanks his brainwashing TV ads technique). You see, MJ not realizing his status of semi-god started the bleaching trend in the 80’s and us being dumb as we once were followed blindly. The reasoning was that if MJ thought it was ok to aspire to be white then nothing else mattered. Heck it doesn’t even matter if your face is light-skin but your legs are black as coal right? It used to be that women were more prone to practice bleaching but dudes are catching up too, need proof? Just check out any Koffi Olomide or soukouss video.