Music is the food of life, so the saying goes. Without music I wonder how we would have been stimulated melodically. Without music nobody would have known Michael Jackson, Bob Marley or Lucky Dube. Without music millions whose profession it is would have been deprived of the great opportunity to make name and money. Without music popular musicians like Bob Geldoff would not have found the platform to rally world attention for the human tragedy in
Reggae is a music genre that appeals to my soul apart from gospel music. The Jamaicans popularised reggae music and even their national football team is called “reggae boys”. You have all-time greats like late Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, Gregory Isaacs, Culture, Black Uhuru, Burning Spear and a host of others. Back home in
The first time I had a public encounter with Tiken Jah Fakoly was in August 2000. Late General Robert Guei was in power having successfully toppled a democratically elected Henry Konan Bedie’s government. It was the independence anniversary of the French-speaking sophisticated country called generally “the sub-saharan African miracle” and there was a free concert at the
There and then at about 2am in a national concert been televised live Tiken was on stage and suddenly the Republican Guards took up positions around the
As President Laurent Gbagbo electorally rattled General Guei as the unintelligent military dictator sought to rubber-stamp his democratic transmogrification Tiken continued his reggae journey but this time broadened his campaign for African unity, real independence and economic emancipation. He sang against mass poverty, social injustices and ugly games politicians play. As the war broke out Tiken released a controversial album in which he publicly called on the President to “quitte le pourvoir” (quit power). The song did not go down well with the authorities trying to contain a hydra-headed rebellion that had cut the country into two administrative parts.
Tiken Jah Fakoly’s life was seriously threatened and he left for exile in
Tiken Jah Fakoly is a controversial hugely popular successful reggae musician. Some see him as arrogant and others as a rebel against the establishment. Before his date with exile he had condemned musically the notorious “carte de sejour” here, a resident permit document which generated a lot of bad blood between foreigners and the Ivorian government under Bedie and Guei and later Gbagbo accused of xenophobia. (The Gbagbo government had annulled ‘carte de sejour’ last month!) He sang against exclusion and corruption especially the exclusion of the powerful opposition figure here Alassane Dramane Ouattara (ADO) from the political equation on account of his alleged Burkinabe paternal roots.
Few weeks back the enfant terrible of Ivorian reggae music hit home from exile after five years. And last Saturday he organized a peace and reconciliation concert which attracted close to twenty five thousand fans in ‘Parcs de Sports’ de Treichville Abidjan. I was there and was amazed at the reggae rebel’s raw energy and talent. Backed by a professional band made up of almost 90 percent White men and women Tiken thrilled the crowd (which included two serving ministers) from 6 pm till 11 pm. Before the concert he had paid a courtesy call on some ministers, the President of Social and Economic Council Dona Fologo, the Prime Minister and the President himself.
During the concert Tiken was unrepentant as he railed against African Presidents whom he labelled “assassins”. He took the West to the cleaners accusing Europe and
Saying that ‘Mama Africa’ is beautiful (one of the songs in the new album rendered in good English) Tiken declared that for many years the World Bank and IMF has been borrowing money to Africa but yearly the conditions and situations get worse questioning the African leadership and conditions of the loans. He said after the second World War
Tiken Jah Fakoly paid glowing tribute to great Africans like late Kunta Kinte, Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara
, Steve Biko, and Nelson Mandela. He admonished African leaders to take seriously issues of governance and abandon the penchant to loot the little resources available to ensure the development of our peoples. Besides he exhorted his compatriots to prepare themselves for the post-crisis general elections coming up in the middle of next year asking the crowd if general elections in
For Tiken there should be no reason why elections in
I felt good indeed listening to a reggae prophet who knows what he was talking about and what he is fighting for. With Lebanese, and other White nationals, young boys and girls among the crowd freely rocking’n rolling the mainbowl of Parc de Sports in Treichville wore a combative cross-racial mood. At a stage when the fans became unruly (almost uncontrollable by a heavy battery of security presence) with some of them overtaken by emotion jumping over to the stage to hug or touch Tiken he asked them to calm down cheerfully telling the over-excited ones: “reste vous tranquille les gars, apres ce show on va se djar au quartier” (remain calm guys, after the show we shall paint the neighbourhood red).
As I drove away from