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Janka Nabay: 10 Things I Love About Sierra Leone

The king of 'bubu' music, Janka Nabay, tells us his 10 favorite things about his home of Sierra Leone.

In our “10 Things I Love” series we ask our favorite musicians, artists & personalities to tell us what they like the most about their home country.


In this latest installment we talk to Janka Nabay, who became a star in '90s Sierra Leone during the civil war for his innovative, electronic new take on traditional bubu music. Janka's new album, 'Build Music,' is out today on Luaka Bop.

Below, the 'bubu king' tells us his favorite things about Sierra Leone.

Bubu Music

Bubu music is enjoyment music. The trend is Bubu and it’s Bubu music, you know?

My village, Masimora

Masimora is the most superb village in Sierra Leone, it's where I was born and where Bubu music started. Masimora people are nice people!

Lumley Beach

The heights above Lumley beach. Creative Commons photo by Brian Harrington Spier (via Flickr).

Lumley beach is the best beach in West Africa. It's ten miles of white sand, blue waters, no rocks, no mud, and coconut trees on the banks of the beach from end to end! When you’re thirsty, you don’t drink water, you drink coconut water. Whenever I have leisure time I go to Lumley Beach.

 

East End Lions, my favorite soccer team from Freetown

A past East End Lions team.

East End Lions is my only soccer team, my first soccer team. Their colors are red, white and black. That is why until now I wear red, white and black; I inherited these colors from the Eastern Lions. They're part of me.

Palm Wine

Palm wine is my favorite cultural beer. It’s from the tree to the man. We call it God to man because when you tap the palm tree, you get the palm wine coming out of the tree in liquid form. It’s the best beer in general, trust me.

Cassava leaves and rice

Cassava leaves and rice is the staple food of Sierra Leone. Everybody eats it.

People's friendliness

The people of Salone like to encourage strangers. The people smile and they are giving.

The Independence Day Festival

Bubu music takes over the Independence Day Festival. You'll hear someone blowing Bubu flutes, because Bubu is BLOWING [up]. I’m the first person who played Bubu music and all my people, they BLOW Bubu music [up]. Any April 27, when the festival takes place, you'll hear it!

Photo by Sydney Schleiff & Oliver Citrin.

The Ramadan Festival

First of all, I’m a Muslim, and the Ramadan Festival is the first thing that encroached with Bubu music, on the last day when the Ramadan finishes. Now they don’t do that because Islam doesn’t like it when Bubu music plays. They drink, they fornicate, Bubu is a club fornication thing! Bubu music is enjoyment shit! Now they play it on Independence Day.

Kadiatu Nabay

Kadiatu Nabay—my first love, like somebody you like for the first time ever, and you meet and you [go] crazy! I don’t know how we disappeared from each other. We lost communication for a very long time, then we just came to meet again out of the blue! Then we caught fire, like nothing happened! She's over there. I’m over here.

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(From left to right) Stéphane Bak and Marc Zinga in 'The Mercy of the Jungle.' Photo courtesy of TIFF.

Congolese Actor Stéphane Bak on His Intense Experience Shooting 'The Mercy of the Jungle' In Uganda

We catch up with the actor after the film made its North American premiere at TIFF.

When actor Stéphane Bak first got the script for The Mercy of the Jungle (La Miséricorde de la Jungle), he knew there was one person he had to consult: his father. "My dad did school me about this," he says. While Bak was born and raised in France, his parents had emigrated from what was then Zaire in the 1980s—before the events of the movie, and not exactly in the same area, but close enough to be able to pass on firsthand knowledge of the simmering ethnic tensions that underpin the action.

The story takes place in 1998, just after the outbreak of the Second Congo War—which came hot on the heels of the First Congo War. Two Rwandan soldiers find themselves separated from their company and have to make a harrowing trek through the jungle to link back up with their regiment. Bak plays Private Faustin, the young recruit hunting Hutu rebels to avenge his murdered family, a foil to Marc Zinga's seasoned Sergeant Xavier. As a Congolese militia swarms the area, and it becomes increasingly difficult to tell enemies from friends, the two are forced off the road and into the thick vegetation.

Their journey is physically difficult, but the jungle also nurtures them, providing food, water, and shelter. "The title is very explicit in a way," says Bak. It is the human beings they encounter, from rival soldiers and militiamen to the hostile security forces guarding illegal gold mining operations, who bring sudden danger and violence. The challenges are conveyed as much through the actors' physicality as through the minimal dialogue. As for the strain on his face, Bak says it was all real. "To be honest, it was very difficult," he says of the shoot, which took him 25 days. "I had to learn my accent in two weeks." Prior to commencing, there was training with the Ugandan army for realism. Due to the ongoing conflicts in the DRC, the movie itself was shot in Uganda.

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The language will also be incorporated into primary and secondary school curriculum in the country, says the Minister of Culture.

Yoruba history and culture has an undeniably strong presence in Brazilian society, due of course, to the Transatlantic slave trade which brought millions of enslaved West Africans to the Americas. Despite the inhumanity they faced, many managed to keep their ancestral culture and traditions alive.

Centuries have passed, and Yoruba influences still continue to thrive in various regions of the country, as many Brazilians maintain a strong relationship with the language and religion. Its influence can be seen through the music, food and spiritual practices of various communities. Last month the Ooni of Ife—the spiritual leader of the Yoruba people—visited the country, where he was met by crowds of Black Brazilians who turned up to pay their respects.

This connection will likely remain strong for future generations, as the language has now become an official foreign language in the country.

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Brazil's Minister of Culture, Dr. Sérgio Sá Leitão, has said that the language will now be incorporated into primary and secondary school curriculum, reports the Nigerian Voice.

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Get into Telefunksoul and Felipe Pomar's Ré_Con Ba$$ EP.

Brazilian producers Felipe Pomar (of TrapFunk & Alivio) and Telefunksoul come through with a dizzyingly energetic EP in the form of Ré_Con Ba$$.

Telefunksoul, who happens to be one of the main promoters of Bahia Bass music, came up with the concept of exploring the rhythms coming out of Recôncavo of Bahia and showing how they can fit into bass music.

Through the 7-track Ré_Con Ba$$ EP, him and Pomar mold and transform the diverse music of Bahia, fusing its rhythms with afrobeat, future house, deep house and much more.

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