East Africans ‘unfit’ for hall of fame

Monday June 29 2009

By John Kariuki

MUSICIANS FROM EAST Africa lost out to their counterparts from West and South Africa for a place at the proposed centre for black music (Le Centre des Noires) in an event held in Paris recently.

“We had no chance against their high profile artistes,” Kenyan music producer Tabu Osusa who represented East Africa on the selection panel said.

The panelists presented names of artistes from their regions and a list of top 10 to feature in this prestigious centre was drawn.

The chosen few were Fela Kuti who had the highest score followed closely by Miriam Makeba, Youssour N’dour, Habib Koite, Oumou Sangare, Wendo Kolosoy, Alpha Blondy, Manu Dibango, Mory Kante and Ismael Lo.

The list of East African artistes presented for consideration included Fadhili Williams, Daudi Kabaka, D.O. Misiani, Ayub Ogada, Samba Mapangala, Remmy Ongala, Mbaraka Mwinshehe, Afrigo Band, Maroon Commandoes, Super Mazembe, Them Mushrooms and Orchestra Mangelepa.

Osusa said that Congolese musicians were included in the list due to the fact that they made their careers in East Africa and were a major influence on the urban music of the region.

“The likes of Mapangala, Mazembe, Ongala and others made a great impact to the music of the region and have helped to propagate the identity of East African music,” he said.

The centre, a project of international music and culture organisation Mondomix, to be established in Salvador in Brazil in December, will feature three categories of black music: Mother Africa, Black America and the global mix.

Areas to be covered include Black African traditional music (from griots to sacred rhythms), the middle passage (blues and jazz, Afro-Brazilian music, Cuba, Caribbean.

THERE WILL ALSO BE SECtions on racism and discrimination, Apartheid (Johnny Clegg from South Africa is nominated), reggae and Pan-Africanism (a tribute to Bob Marley).

Unlike similar projects that use dummies of the inductees, the proposed centre will use digital images.

According to Osusa, East African artistes lacked an international profile that would influence the voting.

“It is the same old story: We do not celebrate our own —obviously we cannot expect others to,” he said.