Basa Basa ‘Homowo’ aka Basa Basa Experience ‘Together We Win’ -Ghana

Originally released in 1979 in Nigeria this album remains one of the highly prized ‘holy grails’ of African music. Basa Basa Experience ‎– Together We Win Label: Take Your Choice Records (TYC) ‎– TYC 115-L

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see also previous post Piliso -Thumela -rare Afrobeat from South Africa 1983

Both albums by Piliso and Basa Basa Experience ‎were produced by Themba Matebese, a member of Nigerian band T-Fire. Other members are Igo Chico, Kenneth Okulolo, Lekan Animashaun, Mike Collins, Tobahoun Abalo, Tunde Williams.  In T-Fire Themba Matebese was responsible for the vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards and percussion as well as for the composition of most of their songs. He also wrote  ‘African Soul Power’, the standout track on ‘Together We Win’. The album got repressed on Peach River Records in Holland in 1983 under a new title ‘Homowo’, the group name was shortened to Basa Basa.

Liner notes; Basa Basa is a highlife band, the nuclues being the Nyaka Twins from Accza, Ghana, West Africa. They both play guitars and drums and compose their own songs. Recorded at Decca Studios, Lagos, Nigeria. Classify under tight funky disco high life afrobeat.

Basa Basa‎–Homowo – Highlife Music

basa basa homowo cover front + watermark basa basa homowo cover back watermarked

basa basa homowo label A watermarked

basa basa homowo label B watermarked

Peach River Records ‎– BB SP LP 03 -The Netherlands 1983

2018 reissue by Vintage Voudou The Netherlands with extensive liner notes and fold-out poster.  Available here 

 Thumbs up to reader Afrikola for his valuable information on the origins of this rare record. 

Masks -Haitian Vodou and Togo deities

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Maske is a Haitian kreyol word, meaning to wear a mask. Todays selection of text and some of the most stunning pictures of Haitian Vodou comes from the book ‘Maske’ by Phyllis Galembo.

This acclaimed book with thrilling photographs, showing masquerade performers in Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Zambia and Haiti is a celebration of African art, and a work of vivid artistic imagination. Photographs of carnival characters, mostly rooted in African religion and spirituality, are presented in chapters organised by tribal or carnival tradition each introduced by a short text by Galembo about the characters and costumes portrayed. The art of masquerade is introduced by art historian Chika Okeke-Agulu, (himself a participant in masquerade events during his childhood in Nigeria).

See also previous post Maske by Phyllis Galembo -Makishi & Lakishi masquerades & more

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Within the African Diaspora, Haitian culture is known for its strong connection to Yoruba, Congo, and other Cross river cultures which, over centuries, slaves combined with influences from local Taino Indians and Europeans, and from Vodou.

For these photographs of traditional religious rituals Galembo went to Haiti, where she documented the traditional priests and priestesses of Vodou during Jacmel Kanaval, when troupes of musicians and dancers fill the streets. A wonderful yet dangerous event, the mood can swing wildy from exuberant joy to defiant aggression. Today, after the catastrophic earthquake of 12 January 2010, Jacmel Kanaval was cancelled and, as I write this, much of Haity including Jacmel, remains in ruins.

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ISBN 978-1-905712-17-5

First published 2010 by Chris Boot www.chrisboot.com

see also Vodou, Visions and Voices of Haiti

Published by Ten Speed Press; ISBN: 1580086764; 2005

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and just one more Voodoo photograph, from Togo…from the book ‘Faces Of Africa’ by Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher -National Geographic Society USA 

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A Voodoo devotee from Togo surrenders himself to the spirit of his personal deity. His eyes roll upward and his pupils disappear, leaving only the whites. Depending on which direction they eyes roll, observers can tell what spirit has possessed him. This man, with his eyes rolled toward the sky, is possessed by Hebioso, the thunder god.

This seminal volume first published in 2009 is a landmark. The award-winning team of photographers Carol Beckwith / Angela Fisher and authors of African Ark present a stunning selection of 250 full-color portrait photographs from across Africa, spanning every region of the continent, from the Islamic Africans of the North, to the tribal cultures of sub-Saharan Africa, to the people of the South, in a compact edition of their acclaimed book.

Faces of Africa: Thirty Years of Photography
Beckwith, Carol / Fisher, Angela

Published by Natl Geographic Society 2009-01-06, 2009
ISBN 10: 1426204248 / ISBN 13: 9781426204241

Time, Trade & Travel -new exhibition in Amsterdam/Accra

With Bernard Akoi-Jackson, Dorothy Akpene Amenuke, Serge Clottey, Zachary Formwait, Iris Kensmil, Aukje Koks, Navid Nuur, Jeremiah Quarshie, kąrĩ’kąchä seid’ou, Katarina Zdjelar.

A most remarkable and charming exposition organized by the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam in collaboration with the Nubuke Foundation, Accra, Ghana  just opened last weekend here in Amsterdam.

I was mostly intrigued by the photographic work of Bernard Akoi-Jackson and by the video ‘My Lifetime (Malaika) by Katarina Zdjelar. The video is neither a portrait of the musicians, nor is it a documentary about the National Symphony Orchestra of Ghana. With great sensitivity Zdjelar rather deploys the orchestra in order to draw a sketch of a complicated state of affairs in which grand ideas and the mechanism of a nation state takes root in and affects individuals. Zdjelar’s ‘My Lifetime (Malaika) video directs attention to the discrepancy between the fact that, on one hand, the Western musical tradition has never fully become part of Ghanaian culture and, on the other, the fact that the Ghanaian state continues sponsoring a national symphony orchestra.

Most musicians are working hard to scrape together a living during daytime so it’s hard for some to keep up with the intense rehearsing schedule after work. The images of ‘My Lifetime (Malaika)’ show musicians sometimes so tired that they doze asleep during their long wait to blow a few notes on their shattered instruments. Funny and tragic at the same time…

Time, Trade &Travel -K. Zdjelar -My Lifetime (Malaika) video 2012

The song ‘Malaika’ is a African song written by Fadhili Williams and made famous by Miriam Makeba, Boney M and most recently by Angélique Kidjo who sang it at the kick-off concert of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Malaika -lyrics

Malaika, nakupenda Malaika
Malaika, nakupenda Malaika
Ningekuoa mali we, ningekuoa dada
Nashindwa na mali sina we, Ningekuoa Malaika Nashindwa na mali sina we, Ningekuoa Malaika
Pesa zasumbua roho yangu
Pesa zasumbua roho yangu
Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio
Nashindwa na mali sina we Ningekuoa Malaika.Nashindwa na mali sina we Ningekuoa Malaika
Kidege, hukuwaza kidege
Kidege, hukuwaza kidege
Ningekuoa mali we, ningekuoa dada
Nashindwa na mali sina, we Ningekuoa Malaika

the complexities of global exchange

Grouping the works of Dutch and Ghanese artists under the sweeping exhibition title ‘Time Trade & Travel ‘ is a curatorial decision that points to the collaboration’s extended focus on the complexities of global exchange fostered by capitalism and its effects on life and art.

‘Time Trade & Travel ‘launched the participating artists on a quest into the historical encounters between Europeans and Africans, a quest in which trading and the cultural exchange receive particular attention. The exhibition functions as a platform for the presentation of their artistic inquiries into pre-colonial trade and colonial legacies and their traces in continuing imperialistic relations. The exhibition does not shy away from looking at the harrowing aspects of these relations, but does not focus solely on them. In the works of Iris Kensmil and Bernard Akoi-Jackson for instance, the practice of slavery is consciously touched upon from an accentual temporal distance.

Bernard Akoi-Jackson -Dutchman

Just like Iris Kensmil and Bernard Akoi-Jackson, who indirectly deal with the legacy of slavery in divergent ways, Serge Clottey and Jeremiah Quarshie, the youngest participants in this exhibition, touch upon the issue of slavery as a present-day phenomenon. They presuppose that forms of slavery continue to take place in form of dubious employment contracts from which the one party profits more than the other, and under which people are evaluated differently on the basis of their descent. In this sense, the colonial system that divided people into civilized and uncivilized continues to exist, albeit in altered, contempary forms.

Just look at the most recent bloody uprising of miners in South Africa or the inhuman treatment of Indonesian  house-servants in countries like Saudi-Arabia. Various forms of slavery still take unexpected turns even in our modern ‘liberated’ times.

Bernard Akoi-Jackson -Greyman

The exhibition ‘Time Trade & Travel’ not only shows the result of a soul-diggin’ journey throughout Ghana and it’s former colonial oppressors but touches the difficulties that are grounded in the fact that colonial and local structures have become intermingled in such complicated ways that at times it is impossible to distinguish them from each other.

Time Trade & Travel -25th August – 21 October 2012

Rozenstraat 59 1016 NN Amsterdam, The Netherlands

‘Time Trade & Travel’ is to be seen at the Nubuke Foundation, Accra, Ghana from 25th November 2012 to February 2013

www.nubukefoundation.org

For overviews and more background information on the exhibition see

http://project1975.smba.nl

this article contains excerpts from Newsletter Nr. 129, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam

Atakora Manu & His Sound Engineers -Odefedefe -Ghana

One of the rarest and most treasured finds of my recent Tokyo safari is this original album by Atakora Manu & His Sound Engineers, released mid-70’s in Accra-Ghana on Ambassador Records.

Between 1963 and 1966 Atakora Manu was a guitarist of the United Ghana Farmers Council Troupe and with the staging of 1966 Coup, the groupwas disbanded and came back home again.

In 1967, he together with Kakaiku formed Kakaiku No2 Band with Atakora as the lead guitarist. Some of their hits are; “OhohoBatani”, “Koo-Krokoo”, ‘Akwantu Mu Nsem”, “AkyinkyinaAkyinkyin”.

In 1970 he resigned from the Kakaiku No2 Band and did not join any band until 1973 when he was employed as a studio attendant by Ambassador Records. With the goodwill of the managing director Atakora was encouraged to use the studio to enhance his ability with the hope of recording in the future.

As a result of this good gesture, he regrouped his Princess Trio, a group he had formed in the early years of the 60’s. They have so far released two LP’s “Odefedefe” and “Me Ne Odo Beda Mpapa Dan Mu”.  The other members of His Sound Engineers are C.K. Mensah, S.K. Amoako Agyeman, Agyei Kyeremanteng and AttaFofie. They are all from Toase, Ashanti with the same family base.

Excerpts from the original liner notes by D.F. Boateng

Atakora Manu & His Sound Engineers -Odefedefe

Ambassador Records, Accra-Ghana, released mid-1970

Atakora Manu & His Sound Engineers -Odefedefe

Atakora Manu &  His Sound Engineers -Di Asempa

les Sapeurs; battle of the dandies

A good day to all of you…This is not a fashion blog.

Yet,  I can not resist reporting this spectacular fashion event, held just last night. An official part of the Amsterdam Fashion Week 2010, organised by the Prince Claus Fund and the Amsterdams fonds voor de Kunst. Quite an official gathering…

My interest was stirred first of all since this night out promised to be a fashion battle and   a few key members of  ‘Sapeurs’, members of  La SAPE (Société  des Ambianceurs et Personnes Elegantes) were invited.  On the catwalk Sapeurs  from  Congo, Ghana, Rwanda and Morocco elevated fashion to the status of religion.

Les Sapeurs create a totally different identity through expensive Western haute couture garments that are presented with African eccentricity. Looking good for les Sapeurs is just as important as following the rules of elegance and good manners.

One could call them dandies, more critical minds may discard them as idle poseurs or fashion victims. But whatever their image may evoke, their impact on African culture should not be underestimated.

Les Sapeurs started in the mid 70’s as a small group of Zairous Fashion Lovers who rebelled against the regime of president Mobutu of Zaïre who introduced the uniformed look. A look for men and women based on communist Mao suits, replaced  the suit and tie  of Zaïre’s colonial oppressors and banned European fashion in general.  Les Sapeurs found a new way of protesting Mobutu’s  regime by importing Western extravagant outfits from chic boutiques in  Brussels and Paris. Musician Papa Wemba was their idol; ‘le pape du Sape’.

La Sape was a very peculiar movement. At first glance it seemed ridiculous for a man in Kinshasa, in the midst of an economic crisis, to walk around with gaudy sunglasses, a colorful shirt by Jean-Paul Gaultier and a fur coat of mink, but the materialism of Sapeurs was social criticism, as punk in Europe in later years was. It depicted a profound aversion to the misery, poverty and repression that they knew and it allowed to dream of a carefree Zaïre.

La Sape was all about success, about visibility, and about scoring. Discothèques were entered with a combination of Chic, Choc et Chèque. The true Sapeur was űber cool, he moved and spoke with perfect control, he regaled his friends on beer and women were his easy prey. He was a dandy, a playboy, a snob. The Sapeur was not despised but admired. For many poverty-stricken youth his extravaganza kept hope alive.*

Les Sapeurs are following the footsteps of those dandies who flashed the streets of South African townships like Sophiatown and Alexandra in the 40’s and 50’s. These people were known as tsotsis and widely regarded for their immaculate sense of dress. And love of music too; marabi, jazz. Tsotsis had been named for the zoot suits they adopted just after World War II, but the name was also conveniently close to the Sotho verb ho tsotsa, meaning ‘to behave thuggisly’.

Gangsterism had a range of forms and social meanings. Many gangs had started out as genuine self-protection groupings for country boys prey to the wicked big cities; to survive, they had to learn that wickedness themselves. They progressed to demand protection money, traded in dagga and bootleg liquor and controlled the prostitution market.

They gathered their inspiration from movies about Al Capone and Cab Calloway, of whom they borrowed their trademark look; the zoot suit. And they dated the beautiful ladies; Miriam Makeba, Dolly Rathebe, Thandy Klaasen. They were going through that whole thing of the moll, the gangster’s moll.

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Their attitude towards women performers-as to women in general- was not so respectful as singer Dolly Rathebe recalls:

‘We used to have it very tough in those days…Sophiatown was like New Orleans -it had the jazz, the fashion, everything! We had competition with Orlando -we used to call them turkeys because they spoke too much of the native languages like Zulu. To us, it sounded like gobble, gobble. We were proud of our Afrikaans and English.

Those from Alexandra were real raw and uncouth and used to go and raid other townships, starting fights and kidnapping women. They came for me once, said; ‘after the show, you’re coming with us’! I had to go with them. What choice did I have? Oh yes, it was tough…the police didn’t care about it, because later I reported that this guy had taken me against my will, but nothing happened. We were just kaffir meids (black girls), Bantus, so the police didn’t care. We found ways to survive. The tsotsis were the best dressed gangsters in town and eventually I settled down with one of them. He looked after me. It was just that kind of life, and we’d grown up with it.’*

*from the book ‘Soweto Blues -Jazz, Popular Music & Politics in South Africa’ by Gwen Ansell. 2004 Continuum Publishing New York-London

on the Amsterdam catwalk last night, the finest selection of les Sapeurs had no criminal connections nor did they belong to any gang of tsotsis. Les Sapeurs LOVE fashion with a Sexy, Afro Glam Wham Attitude!

African chic combined with  European fashion. Models striking a pose to bass-heavy raw African tunes and sophisticated NYC 90’s discotheque hits.  Two young boys on the decks,  “l’Afrique Som System” signed for the soundtrack; Asheru Alhuag & Ashwin Murli.

Certainly  a night to remember,  quite refreshing and what great fun. Vive les Sapeurs! Long live the African Renaissance!

all photographs©Soul Safari 2010

a selection from ‘les Sapeurs’ soundtrack right here

 

**excerpts from ‘Soweto Blues -Jazz, Popular Music & Politics in South Africa’ by Gwen Ansell. 2004 Continuum Publishing New York-London

*excerpts on La SAPE  from ‘Congo. A History’ by David Van Reybrouck‘. 2010 De Bezige Bij Publishing Amsterdam