Saturday, June 24, 2006

Gnawa Diffusion, Musicians

Identity cannot be determined by decree. It comes from the very soul of the population.
Amezigh Kateb

Samir, over at The View from Fez wrote up one of Morocco's top groups, Gnawa Diffusion.

I was curious and went searching for what I could find in English and listened to a little of the music ... loved it. There was this interview but Samir has written them up well, why not give you a taste of what made me curious to know more.

The story of Gnawa Diffusion goes back to 1992 when eight talented musicians, mastering different music styles, toured France and neighbouring countries and performed in bars and streets.

Headed by Amezigh Kateb, son of the famous Algerian writer Kateb Yacine, Gnawa Diffusion have acquired fame in France, the country which has had a long tradition of producing bands specialised in ‘métissage' (musical fusion).

The members of the band have succeeded in fusing their individual influences into a collective sound. They mixed the traditional music of Gnawa with different styles, including rap, raggae, jazz and rai.


Amazigh Kateb seems like an interesting man who is making a difference with the group Gnawa Diffusion. Samir wrote: Amezigh, the leader of the group, arrived in France in 1988 at the age of 16. He has been closely involved with the struggle to defend immigrants' rights and eradicate racial prejudice.

There was another interview here and in it he explains: The problematics of language have been an issue since the birth of the Ghanawa Diffusion. This brings me back to an incident that took place in the French city of Lyon during a celebration of Eid al-Fitr (Lesser Bairam).

After the concert, a young man came to me and said that he did not remember a better conversation or happier moment with his mother than during the concert, when she kept calling upon him to translate sections of my music into French or English. This is what we hope for: forcing our Arab and French audiences to interact.

My writing in colloquial Arabic, the language of my childhood, started during my secondary school days when I defied the teachers. When I started singing here in France, a French musical producer asked me to write in French because of market demands, a request that I turned down despite the difficulties that faced our first album, “ Algeria,” in 1996.


I found this quote elsewhere and it seemed a good note to end on ... a hopeful note.

I sincerely believe that culture in general, and music in particular, are our weapons for a better future.
Amazigh Kateb.

4 comments:

Lotus Reads said...

Sounds irresistable! I will have to go in search of their music on the net. Will report back. As always, thanks so much for sharing these exciting finds with us, truly!

woman wandering said...

It's a pleasure lotus, anyway you do the same with your finds.

I did love the small sampling of their music, I think I'll have to buy their music when I'm working again.

I've been enjoying my exposure to Arabic here in Belgium actually, and in Nederlands class decided I'd much rather learn what everyone else was speaking ... the Iraqis, Iranians, Moroccans and others could understand each other with their Arabic.

Lotus Reads said...

I know a smattering of Arabic thanks to the years I lived in Dubai, but I would like to get more fluent. Do you have a favorite Shawarma eatery in Belgium? It's funny but when my friend (we met each other in Dubai) visited Paris, she said she tasted the best Shawarmas there!

woman wandering said...

Oh, I am an ignorant in so many ways :) Tell me, what is a Shawarma?