Afrika 2000 - Mory Kanté
To emphasise the excellence of Mory Kanté, here's a second track from "Akwaba Beach" with yet another memorable intro and more beautiful kora playing. I've always assumed Akwaba Beach in Guinea but a search on the internet shows that it is probably in the South of France as at the time of recording Kanté was living in Paris. Which just goes to show that one should be careful about making assumptions and judgements about people from other places in general and Africa in particular.
My friend Alex Ntung, who is British, was born and grew up in a remote jungle and hill village in Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo DRC). The story of his struggle for an education and to escape his war-torn country is told in his wonderful memoir "Not My Worst Day".
On one of the times he returned home from Britain, he trekked up to his village with a group of western WHO workers who were trying to improve living conditions in the village which, at the time, had no electricity or piped water. A young woman in the party was wearing one of those iconic Che Guevara t-shirts picturing the revolutionary longhaired, moustachioed and in his black beret. Alex's very old grandmother grabbed the girl's arm, pointed to the shirt and said something which, when translated, turned out to be "I know him - he used to stay in my hut." They all laughed and put it down to the ramblings of an old lady. Later they mentioned it to Alex who knew his granny wasn't in the habit of making things up. He checked it out with the other elders, and sure enough, further research revealed that Guevara spent most of 1965 leading a band of revolutionary guerrillas in the Congo and did indeed stay as a guest for a time in Alex's granny's hut. With no photos, books or newspapers, let alone tv or newsreels, and only her memory to go on, she was able to recognise his face forty five years later.
Underrated music from an underrated continent.