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Pan African Voyage on Afro-beat Part 2: West and Funky

Part I of this two piece blog and mix-tape took a laymens look at how Manu Dibango had shaped the music continentaly and globally scene for not just the listeners, but the many artists who either collaborating with them and those who came from the West African region. The setting created was the next movement from that, the 1970s, and we had introduced the scene with the legendary Black President at Kalakuta Republic. Much that happened in this era found its funk from the 1950s innovators like William Onyeabor, the Fantastic Man who rocked us with synthesizer bumper Atomic Bomb.

William Onyeabor. Image Subject to Copyright©

Allow us to add that there is something beguiling in the music that comes from West Africa. At least in our experience as music lovers, music coming from countries such as Nigeria and Ghana, for example, has a rhythmic beat that moves you - figuratively and literally. Artists such as The Ofege Phenomenon come to mind. Their sounds were influenced by the likes of great acts like BLO (Berkley Jones, Laolu Akins and Mike Odumosu) and Osibisa from Ghana. On that subject, we played a track titled "Sunshine Day" by Osibisa two Sundays ago. Osibisa were regarded as the most successful African-heritage bands to come out of London, where the group was founded in 1969. The fact that the group's first album was recorded when the group was still in high school, shows the nature of influence that music had on the youth at the time. That Ofege was also influenced by the likes of ‘Monomono’ (led by Joni Haastrup), The Funkees, and Ofo The Black Company, not only shows the volume of music that was being produced, but is also indicative of the various sounds that shaped the music of the time.

It goes without saying that woven in this music was the thread of protest , thus innovation from Prohibition and varying emotions, depending where the music gods led the artist. Music is connected to the everyday workings of everyday life. This couldn't be more true for the sound and music that came from West Africa in this period. From highlife to afrobeat including lo-life and funk, the music is a functional tool used in work, love, war, ceremonies, or communication. It takes the struggle that raged across the continent to another level as it evokes all manner of feelings and stirs unsettled spirits with its horns and guitar solos. It is a golden thread that unites the diverse sounds of the region, mesmerizing you and casting many spells as it entrenches a sense of defiance against the status quo and a sense of pride in being African.

The richness of the diversity is also something worth noting about the music of West Africa. We hope that, through this blog, you have had a chance to get a glimpse of the vast variety in music that comes from West Africa, and that you have a rough idea of who the pioneers were that brought attention to the region through music.

Additionally, we hope that the artists covered, as well as the music featured on Sunday's Afrobeat Pulse has given you a glimpse of the gems that exist. Please engage with us, and let us know if you have enjoyed the music and the narrative element we have put together for you. Beats By the people, for the people.

TUNE IN SUNDAY 12 July 2020 on 3pm (CAT) www.ubrfrm.net to listen to the live show

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