Features

Full length journalistic features

MUSIC UNDER FIRE – There’s nothing more revolutionary than joy.

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

Yabous Productions, the non-profit Palestinian organisation behind the Jerusalem festival, has been organizing cultural events in Jerusalem and the West Bank since 1995. After the second intifada started in 2001, they were one of the few cultural organisations in Palestine to survive the Israeli crackdown. Their small offices in Arabic East Jerusalem buzz with activity on the day before Awj’s opening concert.

‘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.

OUMOU SANGARE – Tougher than tough

Oumou Sangare - Malian Songbird

As the most famous Malian woman alive, Oumou Sangare embodies this alluring dichotomy like no one else. She’s the epitome of tough femininity; beautiful, elegant, determined, independent, talented…and, well, hard.

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.

MATOUB LOUNES – A lifetime dancing with death

Matoub Lounes

“Silence is death and yet if you speak you die.  If you keep quiet you die.  So then speak and die.” Tahar Djaout “I want to speak and I don’t want to die” Matoub Lounès A grave between an olive and a cherry tree Death finally caught up with him on the lonely bend of…

OMAR SOULEYMAN – Love him or hate him

Omar Souleyman

Look at Omar in his sheer white body-length jellabiya and gingham keffiya, with his Arab hitman shades and AoE tache, looking like a flesh and blood version of Sheik Yerbouti’s Yahoo Avatar; Omar the hillbilly from Hicksville, Syria, who sings with a voice like a chainsaw and has taken old music and mashed it into…

KHALED #2 – Freedom and pop

Khaled 2

A national treasure, who has always taken the trouble to stay out of big ‘P’ politics, Khaled has no problem flirting with power. He’s a good friend of the current Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and defends his friend’s decision to play loose with the constitution and seek a third term.