Fin juillet, Martigues vit durant plus d'une semaine au rythme de son énorme rassemblement dédié aux cultures du monde. En proposant tout au long de la journée des activités, des ateliers, des animations de rue et des concerts en différents lieux de la cité, la ville pousse le festivalier à la découverte de l'autre. Du 22 au 30 juillet.
Does your new album African Revolution mark a turning point in your career?
Tiken Jah Fakoly: After fifteen years and ten albums, it was important to surprise my fans. I said to myself, as Africans we have a secret weapon: our traditional instruments. By bringing them together with reggae we created a new tradition - an original sound which is truly African. I wanted people to be surprised, especially because I don’t use horns on this album…
Magyd Cherfi wrote some of the lyrics, and you also collaborate with some new song-writers…
TJF: Magyd and I worked together before on my albums Coup de Gueule and L’Africain. I’ve always written my lyrics in the language we mostly use in Abidjan, because above all my message was directed at Africans. But my audience has grown, I’ve got fans in France and all around Europe - I had to find a way to get my message across to the most people possible. So this time the way I sing and pronounce the words is more accessible to those listeners. As well as working with Magyd (on ‘Il Faut Se Lever’), I also worked with Jeanne Cheral (on ‘Je Ne Veux Pas Ton Pouvoir’). With Féfé (from Saïan Supa Crew) it was different, because he had already written the music for a song (‘Je Dis Non’) and he decided to bring it to me. He said: “Your music is about protest, I’m giving you this song as my contribution to that fight, because you’re fighting for all of us”. We all came together so our message could be heard.
Tiken Jah Fakoly – Je Dis Non
You travel a lot, are you optimistic about the future of the continent?
TJF: Yes, absolutely. You know, African countries are very different from each other, but Africans all face the same problems. In the poor neighbourhoods in Côte d'Ivoire, you see pretty much the same problems as in Soweto. So if we have the same problems we should look for the same solution. Young people tell me “your struggle is very good, you should carry on”. Yes it’s a good struggle, but I don’t just want their encouragement, I want them to act. I don’t feel like I’m preaching in the desert. You know many African countries have only been independent for fifty years. When you compare that to France, which has existed for centuries as a nation, or the US or even some Latin American countries, we are very young.
We are in a process of development. We have had to face so many things. Not only 400 years of oppression, they also colonised us for a long time, and even after colonisation they continued to impose another civilisation. So we are fighting for our own survival and it’s not an easy struggle.
I always say that each generation needs to move things forward so things are easier for future generations. We’re not saying today that things are going to change straight away, but if future generations are aware that there were people who tried to change things, but who didn’t have the strength to do it, maybe, with access to new technologies, they will be able to do better than us.
I think it’s a struggle that must be fought because there are just too many paradoxes. Africa is one of the richest continents in the world and the people are some of the poorest... All the natural resources needed by the west to continue their development are found on our continent, everything is here. So why are people hungry?
In that context, does the commemoration of Independence seem misplaced to you?
TJF: I’ve always been opposed to Independence celebrations in African countries, because we are not economically or politically independent. Look at Latin America: Morales or Chavez can tell Barack Obama or Sarkozy to get lost. No African head of state since Thomas Sankara or Patrice Lumumba has got up and said “Leave us alone, things are going to be different now”. Instead we have some leaders who still have a kind of colonised mentality, you can see the parallels with the huge investments China is making and the power that goes with that.
Your message is very universal. You seem to be saying that education is the true revolution?
TJF: Exactly! The majority of Africans are not literate and the politicians take advantage of that. Before I went to school and before I travelled, I used to think you had to vote for the candidate with the most money. Right now there are millions of Africans in the same situation and if more of them were literate, all that would change. Families should be made aware that education can change our society, that however tough things may be, children should go to school. One day, that will have positive repercussions in our society. That’s why I say in one song “Nobody is coming to come change Africa for us”.
Your involvement goes beyond music…
TJF: Yes I don’t just sing, I’ve created a campaign called “Un concert, une école” (One concert, One School). With the money we raised on tour we built a school in the north of Côte d'Ivoire and another one near Timbuktu in Mali, and we have just started construction on one in Burkina Faso. We have to mobilise, put our children in school, and through their education they will understand how our institutions and economies are being run by the authorities. It’s revolution through consciousness raising, through the mobilisation of those who are already literate. There are lots of young people in Africa who say “I am not political”. But if you’re not interested in politics that means you accept the status quo. I know that many Africans disagree with what is happening right now. It’s vital to get involved to try to change things. I’m talking about revolution through education.
Tiken Jah Fakoly - African Revolution is out now on Wrasse
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