September 10, 2012


If you are living outside of the Netherlands you may be (blissfully) unaware of this, but we are experiencing stress. This Wednesday there will parliamentary elections, and things are heating up the last few days.
At least, in the media....

I'm not sure what your image is of this country, but until a decade ago the mere mention of my country of origin would in large parts of the world raise a smile, - or at least a grin. Apparently Holland was associated with a range of 'civil liberties' which were seen by many as desirable, if not - in some occasions - craved for. Besides these liberties we Dutch were praised for our tolerance, and particularly of other cultures.
I am sorry to have to report this, but we Dutch have thrown all this out of the window. Instead we have adopted the narrowmindedness (if not 'closedmindness') and xenophobia of which until recently we were prone to accuse other countries.

Politically this has gone hand in hand with parties with "freedom" somewhere in their name. And with these it is like mobile phones: a "smart" phone does not refer to what it gives, but what it takes away. Subsequent governments have over the last decade done little for many and a lot for few. Key word in this reverse Robin Hood campaign has been "The Economy". Numbers, statistics, predictions and self-proclaimed experts have conjured up an entity bigger and more powerful than any pagan idol in history.
And the 'few'? One only has to look at what has happened to those who left politics, - often under the pretense of withdrawing from the hectic rush of 'public life'. Cushy jobs with large accountancy firms, in international banking. Member of this board, or advisor to that. And not just one of these, but preferably a few ... nothing too arduous though.

I am sure this phenomenon is not limited to this country. In the age of networking the 'old boys' have found their niche. And what used to be blatantly "our thing" has now been cunningly relabelled to "economic necessity" and similar compelling catchwords.

With the help of the media the electorate is soporificated, sedated into accepting the choice between 'old boys A' and 'old boys B'. Brainwashed, the voters will again vote for the parties that will rescue The Economy, - and in doing so will continue relieving them of their liberties. It will take a few years for the voters to emerge from this state of amnesia, but when they do there will be new elections. And the cycle will begin again.....

As a tribute to the tolerant past of this country, I would like to share this album by the late (he died in 2008 - see this article and this wiki) Nigerian highlife star Orlando Owoh. The "Part II" would suggest a part one, but I have personally never seen it (but this discography assures me that it does exist).

Although I have to admit that Owoh's voice may lead to a state of soporification, in my experience this has only had a beneficial result. I would even go as far as to recommend this album as an acute remedy against any form of amnesia!

SOS 126

September 05, 2012


This is a short post about yet another Malian legend who has passed away. Although a virtuoso ngoni and guitar player, Bouba Sacko was perhaps not so well known as others, like Djelimady Tounkara. His career, however, is at least as impressive. In Mali he was well known as an accompagnateur of Malian divas. He played with them all. Rising stars knew they could boost their career by calling in the help of Bouba. For being accompanied by Bouba Sacko almost was a guarantee for success. You can read more about his musical career in this article by Banning Eyre on the Afropop blog.

Bouba Sacko was less fortunate in his private life. I remember rumours went in the late 1990s that he had turned mad. Luckily he resurfaced and picked up his career. Just a few years ago, on October 11, 2008, his wife Djessira Koné, herself a jeli muso of great repute (certainly largely as a consequence of her marriage with Bouba), died. The loss - once more (according to some) - threw Bouba into a deep depression.
Even in death Bouba Sacko appears to be unlucky. According to reports he was quickly buried by the hospital after his demise. He didn't get the burial, with all the ceremonies which are a part of Malian culture, which he should have deserved given his status as vedette de la musique Malienne.

We have his music to remember him by. As an example I would like to share with you this video from the early 1990s. After seeing this I am sure you will recognise him again and again in all those wonderful Malian videos which can now be found on YouTube, - and particularly on Ngoni's great channel.

May he rest in peace.

P.S.: After uploading the video I saw that Ngoni too has uploaded a more recent version to his channel. I have the impression that the sound of my copy is slightly better, while perhaps the image of Ngoni's copy is better than mine. But I leave you to be the judge of this....