Abaraca

Daily Prompt: Stranded

by michelle w. on March 22, 2013

You’re stranded in a foreign city for a day with no money and no friends. Where do you go; what do you do?

I look around for some indication as to where on earth it is that I have landed.One minute I was reading Freshly Pressed and then The Daily Prompt Time and Space Machine Widget drops me suddenly into a different reality. It’s Africa. The dust is kicked up by passing vehicles as I sit by the road looking onto some kind of roundabout. I walk over the road to the garage and after a few moments learn that French is going to be my best form of communication. I am in Ziganchour in the Casamance region of Senegal, West Africa. Thanks Daily Prompt.
I don’t know the area but I do know the music here. I’ve been a fan all my life of West African artists like Youssou N’dour and Baaba Maal and a keen student of the traditional drums of this region, Serouba and Bougarabou.

“Je veux ecoute la musique traditional” I explain to the garage attendant. He tells me to walk along the main drag towards the ‘centre-ville’ and I’ll find plenty.

I walk. It’s hot and dry and I’m hungry and penniless.
Ironic really.
I am assailed by all sorts.Young boys with empty Nescafe tins and big open soulful eyes hold out skinny hands for spare coinage, Baifal with their dreadlocks, the Muslim version of Rastafari, collecting for the marabou’s and street traders ensuring me that a good deal can be had for their wares. To each I respond with a shrug or a  pull outward of my empty pockets. The looks of disgust tell me they think I am a liar. All westerners have money. Always.
After a while the hassle becomes invisible and I adjust my ears to hone in on any kind of musical sounds. It’s not long before I hear what I want to hear. Rhythm. The sounds of the drum. I move more quickly and after negotiating a maze of side streets find myself in a clearing at the back of a house. The serouba and bougarabou players are in full swing. I clap my hands automatically in time with the rhythm.
They stop playing and look up.
“Ca Va. Ca c’est bon,” I tell them.
“Vous connaiz?” they ask, surprised.
“Oui, je connais”
The tall striking man of the group motions me over. I am offered a seat and handed a small Serouba.
“Jouez” he instructs. The group strike up a rhythm and I listen and tap gently. After a minute or so I have the feel and allow myself to play. Ivory smiles break out all over the place.
“Alsammaday” comes the shout.”Nimbarraday” the response.
They like that I can play.
We jam for an hour and soon a crowd has gathered to watch the Tubab play the drums. Half a day passes and whilst we play, food and drinks are brought to us from a nearby cafe owner who has suddenly twigged that we are the reason business has just boomed.
When we are done we are now friends. The language of music is a deep one.
I travel with them for a few days playing and learning and singing songs of the Djola peoples of Casamance. We make some time to shoot a few videos of our ensemble, and we dress in traditional costume for the event.One of the videos becomes instantly available for viewing thanks to the power of The Daily Prompt Time and Space Machine Widget.
Thanks Daily Prompt.
Enjoy.

 

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2 responses to “Abaraca

  1. Pingback: Stranded But Not Abandoned (A short story) | The Jittery Goat·

  2. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Stranded In A Strange Land | My Daily Prompt Blog·

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