April 25, 2001 From: P. Blood

Take me back, Africa

SOCA is alive and well... and kicking up a storm in Africa! Judging from the e-mail I received from an old friend who now resides on the continent, more soca is being played in Africa on a year-round basis than in its "native" land. Namibia, Angola, Botswana, Ghana and South Africa are but a few of the countries where soca music is in great demand.

My friend, who we will call Shabazz, wrote: "Peter, the Africans just love soca music. They behave just like us when the music is played, and the women wine like ours as well, making me feel at home.

"I played a Charlie's Roots CD and they went crazy. It's amazing how many good soca tunes are played here that aren't played back home on the radio.

"Africans just love dancing on the street. In Angola, they are playing and singing, 'Who let the dogs out? Woof, woof, woof, woof'.

"The people enjoy our music so much, and their own rhythms are so much like ours, one wonders how come there is not one radio programme in Trinidad and Tobago with African music.

"Kizomba, Kwassa Kwassa, all very good Angolan music that is similar to T&T music, and not one station playing any. The sad thing to a Trini out here is back home, while there is not a programme for African music, there are entire stations for other types of music. Where is the balance in Trinidad and Tobago? Where is the equality?

"Out here, the people love Shadow, Destra, David Rudder, Denyse Plummer, Baron, Square One, SuperBlue; everything and anything that sounds like soca music."

Shabazz said the local "decision-makers" must take the full blame for not showing courage and initiative in bridging cultural gaps between Trinidad and Tobago and Africa. He added someone should take the ambition to heal the rift between Nigeria and our country.

He added: "Rudder, Denyse (Plummer) and Machel (Montano) are the personalities from home that are known by the Africans, not the politicians and those that control the culture.

"Dwight Yorke is Trinidad and Tobago's most popular citizen in Africa. Because of Dwight, Manchester United is a favourite football team here. They root for Dwight, Manchester and Trinidad and Tobago, not the politicians. They don't know the decision-makers that control what music people hear on Trini radio."

Shabazz, who has lived in Africa for over 10 years, said he has had to play the role of ambassador on a many occasions on the continent. He explains: "I saw General Grant singing 'Shot Call' on Namibia TV and he was referred to as 'the general from Jamaica'. "I called the television station and corrected them."

Certainly impressed by his new home, Shabazz continues: "Trinis who continue to run to New York and London are making a big mistake by not coming to Africa. The people are so beautiful, humble and respectful.

Western civilisation has lied to us, and continues to lie to us, in the Diaspora, making us believe Africa is only about animals as seen on National Geographic, civil war and poverty.

"Africa is abundant with resplendent architecture, good roads, exquisite cuisine and some of the best scenery in the world. Believe me, this place is rich and, despite all that has been robbed from the continent, one millionth of our riches has not been touched.

"All those Trinis who wish to rush to New York to be caught up in the same concrete jungle and be smothered in grid lock and rush hour, let them know paradise is right here, just across the Atlantic from home."

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