Boy, I got ‘em and how. Here are two major elements:
* Several bruising encounters with the American “health-care” system. Make that the American “ill-health brutality” system.
* I am sorely missing my African drum and dance teacher Angelo. He is now in his home country of Côte d’Ivoire for a month, accompanied by students wealthy enough to join him. I am not there, thanks to money troubles among other reasons.
Back in 2005 and 2006, I took two of those trips. The first trip I owe thanks to a generous anonymous benefactor. The second trip was thanks to the mind-boggling disorganization of South African Airways during the first trip, which resulted in them giving three of us free passage for the second. The second trip was even worse than the first, transportation-wise, so I suppose I could have continued claiming another free trip indefinitely – but the screw-ups were so grueling, I lost heart.
Here’s a video a friend and I put together, from the first trip.
So this morning, sunk in the Blues, I came across a video one of my African friends posted on Facebook. I’ve been thinking of our black Americans a lot lately, thanks to events in February Black History Month. I’ve been thinking of how music has been such an important element of how black Americans managed to survive through such unspeakable hardships. The Blues.
The video my friend posted is of Mamadou Diabaté, a genius balafon player from Burkina Faso. That’s near where Angelo and group are right now. This video shows the Africa I saw, in all its stunning beauty of spirit and music.
On Diabaté’s website, I found this, about the Sambla people of whom Diabaté is one:
“Jazz experts find the tonal system particularly interesting as it has close affinities with the ‘Blues’ pentatonic tunings.”
Yet Sambla music pre-dates the Blues.
Connections, undeniable. Ties and connections to Africa. Which we all share. Lest we forget.
* * *
And I am thinking of antidotes to the Blues.
Diabaté’s music. How it has come to me sunk in the Blues, from which it all came. Before the Blues, during, and, hopefully, after.
Of how I have just experienced another leap forward in my recovery from my foot injury, when, before this improvement, it seemed possible that I might limp in pain for the rest of my life.
Of dear friends.
Of the cats. Of course. Of course the cats.
Here are cats, followed by a link to the Diabaté video. Which please: Pause in your day, take time to watch and listen. I hope you enjoy. This is world-class. Blues, anti-Blues.
Bugs, a/k/a “Bougarabou”
And now put your hands together for Mamadou Diabaté.