Hasna El Bécharia is extraordinary. She is still the only woman in the Maghreb to play gnawi music, a ceremonial beat that has remained an exclusively male preserve since the animist beliefs of the Bilad es-Sudan, (in Arabic, the Land of the Blacks – today’s Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Niger and Chad) encountered the monotheist faith of Islam from across the desert. Her choice has exposed her to a great deal of rejection and sarcasm, but Hasna’s mind and soul are irrevocably bound up with the mystic trance music learnt from her father, a pious man who was himself a maâllem or master of gnawi (the plural of gnawa) syncretism, a black Sufism forged by the descendants of sub-Saharan slaves in White Africa, also called diwan in East Algeria and stambali in Tunisia. Here is her song “Hakmet Lakdar”
Today, Flo found a fantasic artist, for me the best one this week: Emmanuel Jal. First, I’ve to tell you something about his live: He was born 1980 in South Sudan, and had to fight in the Second Sudanese Civil War as child soldier. After many very dangerous and difficult years, he run away to Jal and met Emma McCune, a british aid worker who smuggled the 11-years old Emmanuel Jal to Kenya to attend school in Nairobi. After Emma’s death, her friends helped Emmanuel to continue his studies. With his song Gua, he had a great hit in Kenya in 2005, and got famous in Africa. Today, he’s performing reggae and hip-hop music, with fascinting textes about the dramatical war in Sudan. Here’s his song “Emma“, for Emma McCune at Mandela’s birthday in Hyde Park, 2008:
Happy New Year to all of you! Thanks for visiting!!