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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.

Interview
Photo: Benoit Peverelli

Interview: Oumou Sangaré Proves Why She's the Songbird of Wassoulou

We caught up with the Malian singer to talk about her new Acoustic album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

When Oumou Sangaré tells me freedom is at her core, I am not surprised. If you listen to her discography, you'll be hard-pressed to find a song that doesn't center or in some way touch on women's rights or child abuse. The Grammy award-winning Malian singer has spent a significant part of her career using her voice to fight for the rights of women across Africa and the world, a testimony to this is her naming her debut studio album Moussolou, meaning Woman. The album, a pure masterpiece that solidified Oumou's place amongst the greats and earned her the name 'Songbird of Wassoulou,' was a commercial success selling over 250,000 records in Africa and would in turn go on to inspire other singers across the world.

On her latest body of work Acoustic, a reworking of her critically acclaimed 2017 album Mogoya, Oumou Sangaré proves how and why she earned her accolades. The entirety of the 11-track album was recorded within two days in the Midi Live studio in Villetaneuse in 'live' conditions—with no amplification, no retakes or overdubs, no headphones. Throughout the album, using her powerful and raw voice that has come to define feminism in Africa and shaped opinions across the continent, Oumou boldly addresses themes like loss, polygamy and female circumcision.

We caught up with the Malian singer at the studio she is staying while in quarantine to talk about her new album, longevity as an artist, and growing up in Mali.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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