Sunday, 5 June 2011

Africa Vive III - by Theo Berry

I tried pleading tiredness first, then tried selflessness, then appeals to logic, then dangling carrots, but nothing worked. Try as I might I couldn't persuade Kate to leave me in charge of Rosie and go to Africa Vive. So I had to go. Life is hard sometimes....

Now in its third year the Africa Vive concert is the culmination of two months worth of events aiming (or so it seems to me) to present a more positive view of Africa. You know, to show that the continent isn't just about corruption, famine and war, but is also able to create great art, literature and music, and thus joy and life.

My old University flatmate Harry is currently visiting (Friday to Monday) and so after dinner we headed up to the University on the metro, arriving late - the event started at 7pm, we got there about 9pm. Being in Spain for over 2 years has obviously taken its toll on my time-keeping! We immediately met up with Aboubacar - a Senegalese friend Kate and I made at Spanish class - and then were joined by Ayesha and Onno.

Ayesha, who lives in London, and Onno, who lives in Amsterdam, had been in Madrid since Wednesday, and we had already seen them for lunch on Thursday and dinner on Friday, but amazingly they weren't yet bored of our company so still decided to come along! The event was, after all, free and we're all music fans (we first met Ayesha at the legendary Rocket Festival).

We made a happy and enthusiastic group dancing away to firstly Takeifa, from Senegal, playing some lively Afro-pop with some very hooky beats. Following them came Babeloued Sound, an awesome Ska band that was pretty much like every other Ska band, except better and louder and with rap in Arabic and French (they were really more French than African - a couple of the 9 piece came from Morocco). Finally, Femi Kuti (son of Fela) blazed on, surrounded by colour and noise, acting like a coke-head in hurricane, all non-stop motion and hubristic hand waving. We left about half-way through his set, keen to make the last metro and avoid the rush. Femi was good, but not that good. However, although his messianic posturings were got tiring quickly, he was a great ambassador for the exuberance and joy that Africans are capable of and, as such, was probably the ideal ambassador for another excellent edition of Africa Vive.

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