Some music I’ve been listening to lately: McIntosh County Shouters, U-Carmen soundtrack, and Wildbirds & Peacedrums

I researched a bit of the Gullah Geechee culture somewhat recently especially after watching the movie Daughters of the Dust and checking out some of Miss Trudy’s Sierra Leone travel vlogs. I wanted to know about some of the musical parts of the culture and didn’t realize a number of African American spirituals came from that autonomous group. One band known as the McIntosh County Shouters who’ve been around for decades and preserve a lot of the Gullah songs as well as the culture. Not going to lie, I wouldn’t have actively listened to them when I was younger, but I’ve been gaining more appreciation for other types of music. I even bought one of their albums and saw some of their concert videos on YouTube.

https://youtu.be/YELZepKtr1I

I got to see U-Carmen earlier this year. For those of you that have never heard of that movie, it’s a South African adaptation of Bizet’s famous Carmen opera. Not only is this set in the 00s and in a different country, the entire opera is actually done in the Xhosa language (the X is pronounced by clicking). It was a very fascinating take on that classical work. In the movie, all the actors actually sing live on set instead of lip-synching to pre-recorded performances. I would definitely recommend the movie and soundtrack. This song in particular is a Xhosa cover of “Habanera” which is a song a lot of you know even if you don’t know anything about opera or classical music. Just listen to the melody, and you’ll instantly recognize it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjThbylqXdI

Here’s a band I found out about somewhat recently after finding out that they’ve collaborated with the Congotronics Vs Rockers project. It was a superband involving Congolese bands (mainly from Konono No.1 and Kasai Allstars) and various musicians from all over the world. Two of those musicians happened to consist of the Swedish married couple known as Wildbirds & Peacedrums. I’m a sucker for experimental forms of music and I didn’t think anyone can make a band with just vocals and percussion. They’ve got some avant-pop and jazz kind of vibes with their minimalist approach to music which I found to be unique. I was also a fan of the stop motion filming in this music video.

I’m glad I still have an appreciation for music in these stressful times. Hope you like these selections.

Some positive things despite the insanity of the world: African travel vlogs, traditional Burundian drumming, and Hikaru no Go song covers

 

I know things are still very intense in this world. I’m not ignoring them at all. This is just a slight change of pace. I had some rough emotional moments earlier this week, but I’m better now. It’s been amazing by getting some encouragement from offline and online friends recently. Here are some things that I thought were fascinating recently.

 


I’ve been getting into Miss Trudy’s videos a lot over the past few weeks. Miss Trudy is a Kenyan YouTuber who makes travel videos mainly of different African countries. I checked out some of her videos on Sierra Leone and Liberia among other countries and I was astounded by the beauty of those nations. That’s the Africa they NEVER show you especially in the West. Here’s one of her videos where she’s in Freetown (the capital and largest city). Also, did you know Freetown was actually created by freed African slaves from America, the Caribbean, England, and Canada? I thought that was very fascinating.

Burundi has been one country I didn’t pay too much attention to, but I have to thank Miss Trudy as well as Dr. Y. for exposing me to more things about that country. One cultural tradition in that country is their drum corps. These drummers carry on a legacy dating back centuries when Burundi was a kingdom. The drummers would play for the king and they had their own unique rhythms. This was wonderful and I even picked up the live album of the Drummers of Burundi on Bandcamp where they played at Real World Records which is owned by Peter Gabriel.

I got back into the anime and manga series Hikaru no Go this year. It was one of my favorite series during my high school years, and after rediscovering it, HNG still holds up. Seriously, if you think all anime is nothing but martial arts ultraviolence, collectable monsters, or hentai, then please rethink your priorities. I found a cover of the 2nd opening theme “I’ll Be the One” by HAL that was performed by this Thai singer named MindaRyn. I thought she did a great job at singing this song. This was almost as good as the original in my opinion.

Besides all of that, I’ve been having some thoughts about what to post, but I’m debating about having it here or on my other blogs involving different topics.

Hope you all are doing well today.

The 2nd Rebuke of a False Queen

It’s time to take your artificial halo down once more

Stop making shallow homages to the Motherland when you already plagiarized someone’s video from there

You’re not sorry, don’t lie

You’re just an accomplice involved with the biggest legacy of animated theft, cultural degradation, and appropriation

Your followers are nothing but drones

The fact you do wrong, but never own up to it is beyond childish like the last on-screen boyfriend you had in 2019

Funny how you’re the type to flagellate a man for the smallest slight, but never own up to your faults when the fingers point your way

Some woman you are

This attempt at empowerment is lip service at best

While you are a different hue than your handlers, you’re nothing but a patsy buffer for a corrupt agenda

Real heroes and heroines don’t have your wealth and fame

The ones in the street, the ones raising awareness, and those raising money for righteous causes are more valiant than you will ever be

At least try to act like you care…oh, wait. You can’t act for crap.

Destiny should’ve disowned you a long time ago, you idol

DOWN GOES LEOPOLD!

I’m sure some of you have been aware about various statues of racist devils being taken down recently due to the protests. You have the Edward Colston statue getting “swimming lessons” in Bristol, England and you have Confederate statues taken down across the South. I wondered if Belgium was going to step up to get rid of one of the biggest genocidal maniacs you weren’t taught about in school.

Special thanks to Petrel41 for telling me about this!

I’ve mentioned King Leopold II in a few past articles, but this information bears repeating. For those of you that don’t know, he was the king of Belgium since the late 19th century. Him and other European heads of state participated in the Scramble for Africa starting with the Berlin Conference. His piece of the colonization pie was getting a part of the Kingdom of Kongo in a landmass that would become the Belgian Congo or by it’s modern name of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Even after the annexation, that country is still far larger than Belgium from both a landmass and population standpoint. When Leopold got control of that part of Africa, he turned the entire country into his personal slave plantation since it’s still a resource-rich nation even to this day. The biggest things were oil, rubber, and gold to name a few. Leopold and his brutal regime forced the Congolese to take these insane quotas for the resources and if they didn’t meet said quotas, they would get their hands chopped off. You know those chocolate hands they sell in Belgium? That’s where the inspiration came from. Cannibalistic implications much, Leopold? He did wicked things like shooting the Congolese on site and starved them out away from their communities AKA The Elephant Graveyard Treatment much like what the 2nd Reich did to the Namibians in the 1900s or the Native Americans dealing with the Trail of Tears after being abused by the colonizers. This had a result of killing over 15 million Congolese people during his reign! At that time over a century ago, this was HALF the country’s population. To give you more context, that’s over the same amount of people living in the nation’s capital of Kinshasa (also the 3rd most populated city in Africa, by the way) and Chicago COMBINED! Most people know about Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, and Joseph Stalin which people should still be taught about for their atrocities, but Leopold always slips through the cracks of history classes. I didn’t even know who he was until after I graduated college which is sad. Even more angering in hindsight to me is that I have Congolese heritage…Leopold could’ve abused and/or killed MY ancestors that I may not have known about! His punishment for what he did was relinquishing control of the Congo. Oh, cry me a river.

Hopefully that brief history lesson should suffice to my readers. Leopold makes Colston look like an alter boy by comparison. I’m so happy that they took the statues down that glorify racist demons like that tyrant. Major props to the Congolese-Belgians who were hardcore protesting about that situation. I also hope this leads to Belgium paying up those reparations for that genocide against that Central African nation. It’s been a long time coming.

Leopold azali zabolo! Nzambe yaka Osunga Kongo! Mosembo na boboto ekolonga!

Ospreyshire Origins: Cameroonian Originality March

Lyrics:

Attention!

[French]
Nous avons des vautours de la culture a venir!
Notre musique est attaquee!
Marche en avant!
Oui, monsieur!

Barnwell, Baranquilla, Gary, Portsmouth
We’re coming for all of you
Your status as godfathers, hip shakers, kings, and misdemeanors
Have nothing on us
We’ll keep marching on (X2)

[French]
Nous devon securiser le berceau de nos ancetres (de nos ancetres) [X4]

What do we want? (Our original tunes!)
When do we want them? (Right now!)
(X4)


Before I get to talking about this song and what inspired me, I would like to give major props to my Cameroonian blogger friend Dr. Y from Afrolegends. He’s been awesome in making high quality posts for over a decade about African history, culture, news, trivia, proverbs, and then some. Dr. Y was able to educate me about some of the musicians from his home country and even gave me some nuggets about plagiarism cases involving their musicians.

Not going to lie, Cameroon has some great artists. I got into Mr. Leo’s music last year, been listening to some Salatiel (I knew who he was before he was a part of THAT companion soundtrack), and more recently Tim & Foty who are part of the topic of this song. I also wanted the song to have a balance between French and English lyrics to represent unity in that country given some of the issues going on with those communities based on those languages. There have been four high profile songs straight out of this Central African nation. Prepare your ears because some of these songs are going to sound familiar to you.

Exhibit A: “Zamina mina (Zangaléwa)” by Golden Sounds

Exhibit B: “Soul Makossa” by Manu Dibango

Exhibit C: “Hot Koki” by Andre-Marie Tala

Exhibit D: “Douala by Night” by JM Tim and Foty

Doesn’t Cameroon have a lively music scene? Did you also think some of those songs sounded familiar? It would certainly be a shame if a Colombian and some Americans were to steal them.

Yes, that happened and I’m going to correlate each rip-off song to their respective originals.

Shakira stole from Golden Sounds:

Michael Jackson stole from Manu Dipango:

James Brown stole from Andre-Marie Tala:

Missy Elliott, Method Man and Redman stole from Tim & Foty:

All of this came from one country. Some of your favorite artists are musical robbers, so deal with it. This blew my mind and I have Dr. Y to thank when it came to the Shakira and James Brown issues before discovering the rest on my own. Unbelievable, and Cameroon deserves so much better and not just because of some of their current issues right now.

Besides that, I wanted that marching vibe like the “Zangelewa” song, but completely different chords and instrumentation with the Omnichord with hand percussion. This is homage and at least I acknowledge MY inspirations.

The Cameroonian flag picture is from Flags of the World.

Ospreyshire Origins: I, Axum

Lyrics:

Were the invaders fascinated by my beauty?
I stood tall in this living city
My creators took care of me every step of the way
Its a shame they never foretold of my destruction and abduction
While my homeland was never colonized, I was taken defiled, and cloned
I’m disgusted by my inferior leaning tall north of me
My people…rescue and reconstruct me
The world must know I exist
May the originator give me renown despite my obscure state


I got something for the architects and for those that respect African culture. This is going to be something I guarantee you never learned about in school.

This is the Obelisk of Axum in the Ethiopian town of the same name. This tower has been around in one of the oldest nation’s in the world since the 4th century AD. For centuries, this obelisk has been in the Horn of Africa, but unfortunately it became damaged and stolen. Even though Ethiopia is the only country in Africa never to have been colonized, Italy tried to claim that nation through warfare after they got Eritrea no thanks to the Berlin conference.

I didn’t know about this obelisk until I watched the documentary Unjust Perceptions: Ethiopia where they go to a museum and see a picture of it. Think about what I said about Ethiopia and Italy. Phil (the American who’s visiting Ethiopia) looks at the picture and the first thing he says is “That looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.” and the tour guide gives him a lesson…

Image result for leaning tower of pisa

Long story short:  Italy stole a bunch of things including the design of the Obelisk of Axum. The Ethiopian government did their best for years to sue the Italian government to get their culture back and they eventually got the parts of the Obelisk to bring it back home and they’re reconstructing it as we speak. This was jaw-dropping for me and I never realized how that famous building ripped off something from Africa. In the song, I speak in a feminine voice and I use metaphors of the colonizers raping and assaulting the original culture to drive the point home as uncomfortable as it is. The percussion is even based on Ethiopian and Eritrean drum patterns that I’ve noticed in both traditional and pop music from that part of the world. Much like my Art Theft pieces, this is just a sickening display of colonization even though Italy didn’t take over the Abyssinian nation.

Just think twice whenever you see that tower.

The picture of the Obelisk of Axum is from International Travel News.

The picture of the Leaning Tower of Pisa is from Britannica.

Unjust Perceptions: Ethiopia is property of African Diaspora News Channel.

Ospreyshire Origins: Art Theft series (Benin, Nigeria, Senegal)

2000px-Flag_of_Benin.svg

Benin Lyrics:

[Yoruba]

O ti ja aworan wa
Mase paro ki o so pe o se awon ohun-oso wonti
Awon ile iso re je awon ewon
Je ki a je ki eyi se alaye si o

[French]

Rends-nous notre art maintenant!

Image result for nigerian flag

Nigeria Lyrics:

[Igbo]

I bu ihe nleda anya

[Yoruba]

Nitori ti o ji wa aworan

[Hausa]

Bidajen kayan tarihin ku ya sa aka kama su. I ghotara?

You better return what’s ours!

Image result for senegal flag

Senegal Lyrics:

[Wolof]

Luy sa tiis?
Am nga tere xewoonu Afrig?
Yeena ngi saacee yi

[French]

Comprends maintenant?
Vous ne possedez pas notre histoire!


Here’s a triple header for the Art Theft series! These were challenging songs to write lyrics and Art Theft: Benin was actually an Ospreyshire first for me. That was the first poem I wrote that contained absolutely no English words in it! The Senegal one was even tougher because I really had to work on my Wolof since you can’t use Google Translate or any easy online sources for example. Fortunately, I bought a book on a whim that has words and phrases in Senegal’s native language.

These three countries among others in Africa are quite ticked and rightfully so. Their art, crafts, and artifacts have been looted by Europe. They’re held in museums in that continent and these African nations are suing these countries to get their stuff back. To add insult to injury, some of these nations are giving things back…as LOANED items. No, I don’t want to see loans whether temporary or permanent. You stole them, so you give them back to these nations! I really hope these nations get full returns on their art.

Here are some videos from Dr. Mumbi about the matter:

Even Dr. Y. had some choice articles about this situation:

Europe’s Largest Museums to “Loan” Looted Benin (Nigerian) Artifacts back to Nigeria

Bronze Cockerel from Benin Kingdom to be returned to Nigeria

France urged to change heritage law and return looted art to Africa

Wouldn’t it also be crazy if this situation was featured in a mainstream movie even though a character is portrayed as the bad guy for wanting the artifacts back? Oh, wait… Side note: Notice how Benin is mentioned in this clip.

Say what you will about Killmonger, but he was absolutely right about his questions involving the curator’s “ancestors” and that’s historical fact even though Wakanda doesn’t exist.

Here’s another random fact: I’m also part Beninese and I have a tiny bit of Senegalese in my DNA from my mom’s side. #ForTheCulture

The Beninese flag is from Wikipedia.

The Nigerian flag image is from Wikipedia.

The Senegalese flag image is from Wikipedia.

All videos from the Dr. Mumbi show are from Dr. Mumbi’s YouTube channel.

The museum scene is from Black Panther and is property of Marvel Studios.

Double Neat! I was nominated twice for the Real Blog Award!

Here I go again with these delayed award posts! Sorry about that. Recently I was nominated by two different bloggers for the Real Neat Blog Award. They are AK from Everything Is Bad For You and Red Metal at Extra Life. Thank you so much, guys!

real-neat-blogger-award.jpg

Here are the rules:

1. Display the logo
2. Thank the bloggers for the award.
3. Answer the questions from the one who nominated you.
4. Nominate 7 to 10 bloggers.
5. Ask them 7 questions.

Here we go now, and I’ll start with AK’s questions first.

1) Is there a game, book, or other work that you’d like to experience but that you can’t because it’s untranslated, not ported, or otherwise inaccessible?

Good question. It would be cool to play Dance Dance Revolution Club Version for Dreamcast.

2) What’s one work that really affected you or stuck with you in the last year, and why do you think it did?

Since discovering Ousmane Sebene, his debut feature film Black Girl really affected me. As someone with a film background, I was angry not knowing about this director. This work was incredible as it had great metaphors about neo-colonization and some of the most realistic displays of racism with various dog whistles from the French people against the Senegalese main character and the story was so believable and still relevant despite being made in the 60s.

3) If you could revive one series of works that’s been abandoned or dropped by its creators for any reason, what series would it be and why?

Despite the stream of remakes going on over the past few years, I would actually like to see a remake of Shinesman. I know the manga went farther and the satire could still work especially with the glut of superhero media even if Shinesman parodies Power Rangers/Super Sentai. If that got dubbed, then need to get the original English VA cast for it if they can still pull off the voices.

4) When it comes to music, do you prefer songs with vocals and lyrics or instrumental pieces, or do you have a preference at all? If you prefer one type over the other, why do you think that is?

I don’t have a preference at all, actually.

5) When was the last time you bought a magazine, newspaper, or other form of print media?

This was months ago and I bout a book from Dr. Amos Wilson. I’m glad to discover his work on anti-racism and black psychology last year. I’m also not counting e-books, by the way.

6) Is there a holiday you don’t get to celebrate/take off because of family or work reasons but that you wish you could?

Depends on my schedule with work. I know I get Christmas and Easter off which is guaranteed. I’d say Juneteenth would be excellent having that off on so many levels.

7) If you had to create a new holiday, when would it be and what would it involve?

I would make a commemorative holiday for Black Wall Street. This will be a federal holiday where schools and businesses will close to honor those that were affected by that horrific attack. Next year will be the 100 year anniversary. NEVER FORGET!
Now for Red Metal’s questions:

1. What is your favorite variety of meat? Or if you don’t eat meat what is your favorite meat substitute?

Seitan. News flash, I’m a vegetarian! Most of you didn’t know that fact about me.

2. If you could permanently remove one installment from a series you like (which would erase its existence from everyone’s memory), which one would you choose?

I do like Ghost In The Shell. As much as I was disappointed in the GITS sequel and some of the Arise prequels, but at least they offer decent elements to the overall story. If there was one thing I could erase from that series, then (to the surprise of no one) I would erase that live-action remake. Shame on the directors and shaming on the casting agents who thought it was a good idea to let Black Widow play the Major. #Whitewashing

3. If you lost a bet, would you rather read the worst book, play the worst game, listen to the worst album, or watch the worst film that you know of?

I’d say reading the worst book because I’d likely forget about it the most out of those options.

4. If you won a bet, what kind of punishment would be in store for your friend?

MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!! If this was a good friend of mine, I would be a bit soft by making them do 100 pushups and then a mile run. Side note: I did 100 pushups a day all throughout December. If this was a frenemy, I would have them be a part of a pro wrestling match against “Big Wavy” Roy Johnson. Here’s a sample of what would happen. #PounceParty

5. What is your favorite month of the year?

October. I’m biased since I was born that month.

6. What is a piece of obscure trivia you like to mention during social gatherings?

I’m full of obscure trivia. Hahaha! I think the ones I mention somewhat frequently are smart apartments in Kenya that use iPads to control the AC, kitchen stoves, ovens, lights, etc. It’s great mentioning facts that destroy stereotypes about Africa.

7. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose? In this hypothetical situation, assume your choice would grant you complete fluency in the area’s official language.

Speaking of Africa, one place I would like to live would be Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. I have a bit of fluency in Lingala, but being fully fluent in that and the other Congolese languages would be sweet. I saw very fascinating things in pictures and video, it’s quite modern, and there’s lots of things to do in the country.

8. What is the longest amount of time you’ve ever driven a car or other vehicle in one sitting?

It was en route to Cornerstone Festival in Bushnell, Illinois. That’s a 4.5-5 hour drive despite being from the same state. I’m from the Northern part of the Land of Lincoln and Bushnell is a tiny farm town in West Central Illinois. The closest city to it is Macomb which is 20 minutes away and there’s nothing major besides Western Illinois University. Driving can be a bit easy once you get outside the Chicagoland area, but it can be tiresome seeing cornfields and farms for most of the scenery.

9. What is the most annoying fictional character you can think of?

I can think of several. Haha! I think a ton of the Disney Princesses are annoying to me with most of them being Mary Sues, spoiled brats, get helped by too many plot coupons/plot conveniences, and I can’t see how people can relate to them.

10. What is the most underrated fictional character you can think of?

Yugo Beppu from Yugo the Negotiator.  I like how he’s intelligent, culturally aware, and has an extraordinary level of toughness despite not being a violent person. However, there’s one superhero I want to check out called Mr. Terrific. I heard he is good in the comics and that his character was butchered in Arrow.

11. With the decade coming to a close, would you say this was a good period for films, comics, animation, music, literature, or video games?

It was good with the indie and international films I saw, more or less. It was the decade of mediocrity and a tremendous lack of originality in Hollywood with pointless sequels, prequels, adaptations, and of course…so. Many. Freaking. Useless. REMAKES!

Alright. Here are my 7 questions for my nominees.

1. If you’re favorite band’s lead singer quit, who would be a good replacement for them?
2. Who is a supporting character in a movie or TV series that should get their own spin-off? (this can be live-action or animated)
3. The world would be a better place to live in if…?
4. What was the biggest fact or story that really opened your eyes about reality?
5. Which language would you want to learn that isn’t an official tongue in your nation and which places would you visit that uses that language?
6. What is something that you wished never got ripped off or stolen?
7. If you can give great advice in just four words, what would they be?

Nominees:

Rodrovich
Al’s Manga Blog
Kreb
David Boone
Bill Ziegler
The Alchemist
Nesie’s Place

Ospreyshire Origins: Lebombo

Lyrics:

[Zulu]
Sisungule ithuluzi elisha
Leli thambo lizosiza abantu ukutui bafunde izinombolo
Singabaqambi bethuluzi elisha

In ancient times at the continent’s Southern points in the mountain range
We told time, counted the days, and tracked the moon
All it took was a baboon fibula tally by tally
We taught our people from the highest to lowest veldts
At least 44,000 years ago
This wasn’t decoration
This was for education as the Originator blessed us and those up north for our tools


I have to show South Africa some love here especially since this won’t be the only time I’ll mention things from that country when it comes to the content of this album. The Congo wasn’t the only nation to produce a calculator in ancient times. In the Lebombo mountains in what would eventually be South Africa and Eswatini (the country formally known as Swaziland), the natives created their own tally stick also using a baboon bone. That was certainly innovative and this needs to be better known because I literally can’t think of any history class I took in school that mentioned ancient African civilizations with the exception of a whitewashed Egypt or maybe a casual mention of Hannibal of Carthage (now modern-day Tunisia). See, there were important math elements in Africa among many other things. Major props to Dr. Y. for informing me about this lesser-known history!

The Lebombo Bone image is from Afrolegends.

Ospreyshire Origins: Ishango

Lyrics:

[Lingala]
Tosalaki eloko ya sika
(Eloko ya sika)
Mokuwa oyo ekosunga bato pona koyekola mitango
(Koyekola mitango)
Tozali basali ya eloko ya sika
(Eloko ya sika)

Over 20,000 years ago, we crafted something still being taught to future generations. We made a calculator and calendar from a baboon’s bone. What a prime way for instructions from a primate. We solved problems and tallied up solutions. Nzambe bless our methods. Counting lunar cycles, adding, subtracting, dividing, multiplying notch by notch. We made generations smarter and efficient. We know other civilizations wouldn’t be born in millennia. Our technology shall not be fractured, only modernized in future ages.

Ishango=Innovation (repeat)


I would like to thank Dr. Y. and Deogratias from Lingala Academy for this song. The former has an article about this aforementioned ancient calculator and the latter helped me with the Lingala part of the song.

This was a good kickoff song besides the intro by covering this overlooked invention. I didn’t realize one of the first calculators was made from a baboon bone from what’s now the DRC. Anyone who says Africa had no civilization or inventions need to get educated. This bone was used as tallies and as a tool for multiple kinds of math problems. Okay, I wasn’t the best at math, but the fact that some of my maternal ancestors could’ve invented this does fill me with joy and some self-esteem.

From a musical standpoint, I listened to a ton of traditional Congolese drum music, so I wanted to do something very percussive, but still lively despite the lack of instrumental melodies. Using Lingala again has been great. It’s a very musical language and has a certain beauty to it.

What are your thoughts on the Ishango Bone or this song? Don’t forget that Dear Innovare is $7 on Bandcamp!

The Ishango Bone image is from MAA.