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‘BENDA BILILI’ – “They never told us it was impossible…”

Roger Landu from Staff Benda Bilili

What I find extraordinary about a camera, is that you can film people that seem to be so far from you, culturally speaking, and thanks to the emotion that your work expresses, you can relive certain emotions through them and make them appear extremely close. And it’s clear that you need time to do that. If you want to understand a culture, you need to understand the language; you need to live in that culture.

SOCKLO – The genius guitar maker of Kinshasa

Socklo - genuis guitar maker of Kinshasa

Once a guitarist himself, Socklo now makes about 2 to 3 instruments per week, with the help of a couple assistants, in a clapboard shed in the Lembas district of this enormous teeming city. Tools are rudimentary; no workbench, no electric jigsaws, drills or shape cutters, just a heap of hammers, chisels, planes, saws and anvils made from recycled ordnance, all lying at the feet of the kind-faced Socklo while he sits and patiently fashions his artisanal wonders on his lap.

CHEIKH LO – Senegalese soul of many colours

Cheikh Lo - The soul man of Senegalese Baye Fall

It’s this gentle yet luminous spirituality that makes Cheikh Lo’s music so unique, injecting its boundary-busting mix of Cuban, Congolese, Senegalese mbalax and international pop flavours with a tender fire that banishes sentimentality or the empty pop formula. Lo is now 50 years old and philosophical about the time it’s taken him to deliver ‘Lamp Fall’, the ‘difficult’ third album, whose title is synonymous with the Baye Fall’s revered founder.

TAMIKREST – The coalition, the knot, the future

Tamekrist - New Touareg guitar music

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s Tinariwen who created the path,” declares Ousmane Ag Mossa, frizzy-locked leader of Tamikrest, in a pre-emptive strike against a thousand inevitable questions. “But the way I see it, if younger bands don’t come through, then Touareg music will eventually die. They created the path and now it’s up to us to walk down it and create the future.”

JOE SACCO – My hero

My sis, true to form, scored 180 with her Christmas present.  It was Joe Sacco’s latest tome about Palestine:  ‘Footnotes In Gaza’.   Now, very few people out there spur me to become a completist of their oeuvre.  Lee Perry.  Don Paterson.  Joe Sacco.  That’s about it.  And let me tell you that Joe Sacco is…