Last week I wrote about the diversity of music and films coming out of Africa these days. This week, you will notice that blocks #32 and #51 are all music from African countries, and two of our feature presentations are Vusi (Mahlasela) and Friends in Concert and Youssou N'Dour and the Grand Orchestre du Caire in concert. It's just a coincidence, but a good one. In looking back at block #32 (it was one I put together shortly after making contact with Gallo Records, in South Africa) I find it still as thought provoking and informative as ever.
We open with the late great Lucky Dube, who was tragically murdered during a carjacking in JoBurg this year. In his time he was pioneer of African Reggae, and "House ofExile" is a classic that displays his way with a beautiful melody. Next, El Hadj n'Diaye continues with the theme of displacement, with "Thiaroye" a powerful statement about missing one's homeland. After that, KDD presents a truly dynamic (and high end) video. The chorus is a reworking of the French national anthem, as they demand "another color on the flag." In another (and much lighter) vein, Gomes and Tavares gather some of France's hippest rappers and deejays for a spoof on police corruption. Check out the reference in the video to cassoulet - the first time I saw it couldn't stop laughing. Back on African soil we find South African Jabu Khanyile smoothly extolling the hopes of a non apartheid future-- but hard on his heels, we have Phuzekhemisi, the great maskanda musician who never lets the powers that be, be they white or black, forget what is right.
We close with one from Oliver Mtukudzi, from Zimbabwe. His video is about a prodigal son. This video was made in slightly happier days for Zimbabwe, and we can only hope that things get better for its people by the next time we play this block.