Rise of Tiken Jah Fakoly

Question: Bonjour Monseuir Tiken Jah Fakoly and welcome to Zimbabwe. How do you find this country? A: It is good to be in Zimbabwe and I love the country and its people that is why I have come to perform in Zimbabwe. People say you can not walk freely in Zimbabwe but here I am. The just ended Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) brought life to Harare as the Tiken Jah Fakoly lived up to expectations. His reggae music is a fusion of infectious reggae beat with hard hitting lyrics and he has become a role model and spokesperson for an entire generation of reggae music fans , speaking out political and social issues through his songs such as Nationalite, Mangercratie and Sundjata, his reggae music is deeply rooted in the history of his ancestors. His lyrics are all in French. Following in the footsteps of his musical mentor, reggae singer Alpha Blondy, Tiken jah Fakoly has established himself as the figurehead of the new reggae scene in Ivory Coast, although he is now in exile in Mali. In an interview soon after his live performance in the Harare Garden’s main stage, Tiken Jah Fakoly, who was born Doumbia Moussa in Odienne, a town in the north-west of Ivory Coast said he would like to visit other African countries with the region and share his musical experiences. Question: But how did you start to sing reggae music? A: As a young boy, I used to listen to the music of Burning Spear singing Do You Remember The days of Slavery on my tape recorder during the weekends. I would have music blasting all the time at the weekend and I would listen to more reggae stuff from The Gladiators and Joseph Hill and Culture. Q: In most of your songs you sing about your cultural heritage, why is that so? A: I belong to an ethnic group from Lodjenneka known as the Malinke, but some people call us Djoulas because in Malinke the word “djoula” means tradesman. This is because our ancestors, who originnaly came from Mali and Guinea, arrived in Odienne as tradesmen. Q: You seem to be more inclined to your roots and are you a rastafarian? A: Yes, I am a Rastafarian as you can tell from some of my songs like le descendant and politicians I became a griot (storyteller/musician) by chance really. Q: How did you get the name Fakloy? A: One of my earliest ancestors Fakoly Koumba Fakoly Daba was a lieutenant to Seita Keita during the Malinke war of independence in 1235. Q: Who else did you listen to besides Alpha Blondy? A: At the age of nine, my school work suffered a lot as I listened to the music of Rokafil Jazz. I ended up having to sit one year again and I remember my father greeting angry because my school report was so poor. He said that if I did not get better results once again he would send me to the family village. And that’s exactly what happened, I got a poor reports and I was send to the village. I still went out dancing and spent more time on my school work. I improved in my school work and my father bought me a tape recorder and that is when I started to listen to the music of Winston Rodney Burning Spear, the Gladiators and Joseph Hill and Culture. When I first heard the music of Burning Spear I didn’t understand what the artist was singing about. I loved the beat but I didn’t understand a word he was singing but then I came to realize that reggae was the music of the oppressed that is also the time I heard about the music of Bob Marley and Jamaica. Q: When did you start listening to Alpha Blondy? A: The thing that made me sing was hearing Alpha Blondy back in 1981. But before I listened to a number of reggae music, I though to sing reggae you must be good in English, but when I heard Alpha Blondy I said to myself “wow” this is something I can do too. And it happened. Q: How many albums have you released to date? A: I have released seven albums and my next album to be titled The African will be released in 2007 and it will talk about my personal experience in Zimbabwe and the region.

June 2006
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