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Archive for December 24th, 2007

Kidnapped French journalist hopes to be freed soon

Posted by African Press International on December 24, 2007

Mogadishu (Somalia) The French journalist, Gwen Le Gouil, who was kidnapped on December 16 outside the town of Bossaso in Puntland, an area associated with coastal piracy and known as a staging post for human traffickers running boats into Yemen, Sunday expressed the hope of being freed soon and called on his family and friends not to worry about him.

In an interview facilitated by his kidnappers Sunday, he told Radio Horn Afrik based in Mogadishu that he was treated well.

I cannot describe my health and how I am; all I know is that I feel misery and lack of freedom, he said.

I eat only rice and potatoes, which are now my daily meals, he said My message to my family relatives and all those who are worrying about me is to be patient because I hope I will be freed soon, he added.

The kidnapers tell me everyday that they will set me free the next day but these promises have been going on for days, he said

Published by Korir, API/APN africanpress@chello.no source.apa

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Burundi peacekeepers arrive in Somali capital

Posted by African Press International on December 24, 2007

Mogadishu (Somalia) Burundi has become the second and latest African country to contribute troops to the African peacekeeping mission to Somalia (AMSOM), with the arrival in Mogadishu Monday of a contingent of 100 troops.

At their arrival in Mogadishu, the force commander of AMISOM General Levi Karuhanga said the rest of projected one battalion Burundian soldiers were expected to arrive soon.

I want to use this opportunity to appeal to other African member states, who have pledged to contribute troops to join us, so that we would be able to support together the peace and reconciliation in Somalia, General Karuhanga said.

The only other country that had sent troops is Uganda, with a contingent of more than 1,600 troops, which have been holed up in the Somali capital for the past several months while fighting continues to rage between the insurgents and the interim government troops backed by Ethiopian soldiers.

Published by Korir, API/APN africanpress@chello.no source.apa

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AU commission chairman embarks on a visit to Sudan

Posted by African Press International on December 24, 2007

Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) The chairperson of the African Union Commission, Alpha Oumar Konare on Monday embarked on visit to Sudan during which he is expected to visit the war-torn region of Darfur, APA has learnt.

According to AU sources, Mr. Konare, accompanied by the Commissioner for Peace and Security, Sad Djinnit, and other AU officials will visit El Fashir in North Darfur state, to bid farewell and pay tribute to the personnel of the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS).

“He will return to Khartoum in the afternoon, where he is scheduled to meet with President Omar Hassan Al Bashir, before leaving Sudan later in the day,” AU sources said.

The visit comes a week ahead of the formal transfer of authority from AMIS to the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), scheduled to take place in El Fashir on 31 December 2007. Both the AU and UN are planning to deploy some 26,000 personnel in the troubled Darfur region, which is still unable to get its peace.

The AU have some 7,000 peacekeeping forces in the Sudan, deployed since 2004.

Published by Korir, API/APN africanpress@chello.no source.apa

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Thirty years of Mbalax in Senegambia

Posted by African Press International on December 24, 2007

Banjul (The Gambia) As a purely Senegambian musical style, Mbalax, whose famous star is Youssou Ndour, has been the most outstanding music for thirty years in Senegal and Gambia.

For over thirty years, Mbalax has imposed itself as the principal musical style played during dancing parties and even other traditional ceremonies in both countries, thus supplanting afro-Cuban and Congolese (salsa and rumba) styles that used to dominate the musical scene.

In the past the Senegalese bands used to play a mixture of rumba and salsa. These bands included Kounta Mam Cheikh and Super Cayor of Thies, Star Jazz of Saint Louis with band leader Mba, and saxophonist and singer Pap Seck. They played “Yekal Lahbi Niorna”. There was also Star Jazz which was playing jazz music with Aminata Fall as one of their vocalists.

Those who played rumba included people like Bira Gaye as saxophonist and a lady called Mada Thiam in 1965 who helped to transform Senegambian music with typical folklore songs like Laye Nyah, festival national and Leopold Sedar Senghor. This group for more than five years dominated the folkloric musical scene because that time many musicians did not have their own instruments, but then with the help of the late President Senghor, Mada thiams group got very good instruments, singing in Wollof with a rumba rhythm . Another singer called Abdoulaye Mboup with Boabab, together with Bathelimy Atisso as lead guitarist also composed songs in Wollof with rumba music.

It was in 1969 that the defunct Super Eagles used Sabar (tamtam) with modern music, and they created a brand Ndaga music with modern instruments. Among their songs was a song for children who underwent circumcision to encourage them in their endeavour “Sari Yayi Mbar”. The song was arraigned by Pa Touray and Francis Taylor (Senemi) together with Oussou Njai Senior.

The Super Eagles band became quite popular not only in the Senegambia sub-region but even beyond, including Ghana and the United Kingdom. The group for the first time in 1968 had its records top the BBC African music chart.

It was in 1971 that the Star Band Kasse of Dakar also introduced their music called Malax with Pap Seck and Mama Mane Fall, with the talking drum, the late Doudou Sowe, Mar Seck, Yahya Fall, the band leader and solo guitarist, they composed Thielly, Kouy Lal Mademba and Gosando. The rhythm was mixed with African and salsa rhythm.

It should be noted that the Guelewar Jazz Band of The Gambia from 1973 to 1977 contributed a lot to the Ndaga music with Mousa Ngoms Sama Yai dem Na Ndar (renalazo).

The late Ousou Lion Njai also adapted songs by the late Lalo Kebba Drammeh such as Sutukung to modern lyrics.

It was in 1971 that the Super Eagles changed their named to Ifang Bondi, with the departure from the band of people like Ousou Njai Senor the one who composed their famous song, Mandali. Most of their songs were later composed in Mandinka and as a result, the group started to lose popularity amongst the urban people in both Senegal and The Gambia.

The Guelewar Band, whose founders were Abdoulaye Ngum (Abdel Kabir), Bai Janha and Mousa Ngum, also began its downward slide when it changed its name to Super Alligators.

There were many Senegambian musicians who played a great role in popularising salsa music. However, while the music sometimes had different labels in both The Gambia and Senegal, but it was virtually the same. In The Gambia for instance, it was called Ndaga, while in Senegal, it was referred to as Mbalax because of the talking drums that Ibra Kasse imitated in 1971 with Mama Mane Fall.

Laba Sosseh, a Gambian born musician with his bands, Super Star and Vedette band had contributed a lot to the popularising of salsa music from 1962 to 1970. He was the first African to win gold medal with his famous song Seyni, which was a tribute to a girl friend that he loved so much.

We should however not forget Ibra Kasse of Miami whose club was a real school of music where most emerging musicians had their initial training.

Yousou Ndour took the relay in 1978 when he dethroned Star Band in Mbalax, coming up with new inspiration with Badou Njai as guitarist, Kabou Gaye on bass and musical composer. However, it was Assan Thiam with his talking drum that popularised Halis Nehna whilst Alajie Faye sang Maima Banana. The late Ale Seck, who was good in chorus and dancing, added more salt to the rhythm.

Now in The Gambia, there is hardly any Ndaga music, dominated mostly by Kora and rap groups. As a result therefore, the Senegalese have dominated the market with different stars emerging quite so often and making great strides in Mbalax.

Published by Korir, API/APN africanpress@chello.no source.apa

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