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The influences of Sub-Saharan African music, art, cuisine, philosophy and religion are widespread in the West, mostly as a result of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. All around, dotted in background and foreground music for example, there are hints of Africa – watered-down or arranged from equations designed for quick consumption and minimal engagement on an emotional, spiritual or psychological level.
This music – in both its motherland and evolved forms – a fundamental feature entwined into a culture’s existence, has allowed people to transcend time and space for centuries. This transcending factor is necessary, I believe, to be able to comprehend how – through the music – the people who were forced from the Old World to the New, transcended kidnap, slavery, alienation and persecution. With its distinctive features: complex polyrhythms, call-and-response, polyharmonies and improvisation to name a few, this music provides a connection between the Earth and the Spiritual. And so it makes sense that a majority of races and cultures are inspired by and embrace it – they can’t get enough of it! Because after all, we be spirits.
The greatest forced migration of a human population in history.
Over approximately 300 years, up to 12 million souls were taken from their homeland headed for the Americas, 1.5 million of these died during the Middle Passage. An additional 4 million died in the African interior before even reaching the coast.
Source Patrick Manning.
This blog is a tribute to the far-reaching musical spirit of Africa. Africa has a unique life story, be it passive – millions of humans shipped far away to build a ‘new world’, or active – the contributions of the great ancient Empires of West Africa, for she gave birth to the very civilization that has often overlooked and mistreated her. Nonetheless she lives in the knowledge that she still has much to teach it.
‘…theirs is one of the great migration styles in the history of the planet.’
Robert Farris Thompson.
African Rhythms. J Dilla. 2001.