Tarika - Son Egal (1997)

Fifty years ago the French brutally suppressed an uprising in Madagascar using Senegalese troops. An estimated 80,000 people died, many more were tortured and a legacy of racism lives on to this day. The Senegalese have been demonised and Malagasy parents routinely warn their children that unless they behave, «the blacks» (West Africans are darker-skinned than most local tribes) will eat them alive.
On the anniversary of these tragic events, an extraordinary musical project bringing together Malagasy and Senegalese musicians has attempted to heal the wounds of history. Last year Hanitra Rasoanaivo, the London-based singer whose band Tarika has enjoyed considerable success across America and Europe with its warm, lilting African rhythms, returned home to learn more about the past. «I'd never done anything like this before,» says Rasoanaivo. «I was just happy making music. But as I developed as a songwriter, I discovered that certain subjects were taboo and I wanted to sing about them.»
She travelled to the remotest parts of Madagascar, collecting stories of the 1947 uprising from eye-witnesses and the archives. What she discovered goes to the heart of racism and exploitation everywhere. «My grandmother, my grandfather, my aunts and uncles all told me the story when I was small and I was really scared. If you are bad the Senegalese will come and eat you. It was the classic colonial divide-and-rule tactic. If it is blacker than you, it is nasty and inhuman and does these terrible things. I had to investigate the story behind this.»
The resulting album, Son Egal, is a remarkable collection of songs, haunting and moving in its plea for reconciliation and tolerance, tough and clear-sighted in its condemnation of corruption and racial hatred. Simon Emmerson of the Afro Celt Sound System was recruited to produce the album, and in a symbolic act of reconciliation, members of the band led by Senegalese star Baaba Maal also play on it. The album is the most impressive chapter yet in Rasoanaivo's rags to riches story. Home was very poor and only now, with the proceeds of her success, is she able to supply electricity to the family house. There is still no running water. «It is a very traditional, basic life,» she says. «Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world, brought to its knees by corrupt politicians and businessmen.» Somehow she was given an education, studied languages at university and ended up working as a translator at the Madagascar Embassy in London. Six years ago, friends heard Rasoanaivo and her sister singing in the kitchen and suggested they take up music professionally. At first they laughed, but a band, initially known as Tarika Sammy (the now-shortened name means simply «the group»), took shape. Swiftly their blend of shimmering five-part harmonies, traditional instruments and energetic rhythms established Tarika as one of the hits of the roots music scene from America to Japan. In Europe, the album looks set to become one of the surprise successes of the year. In Madagascar it is certain to stir up huge controversy. «I heard some incredible stories from people who had been harshly tortured,» says Rasoanaivo. «A lot of people told me not to do the album. My parents thought I was mad and it's going to stir a lot of things up. But I had to do it. We've been keeping this hatred inside ourselves and it is time for reconciliation.» – The Times, 1997 (Review taken from the band's website).

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Radu said...


Anonymous said...

This is a really great singer. Thank you so much.

Lucky said...

i've bought their 'soul makassar' simply because of the connection of indonesian and madagassy roots. i've never been to madagaskar, but to indonesia - and i really hear the connection between these 2 cultures...

this babe's you're offering are as fresh as the early morning - always surprising. many thanks for that!


psb said...

looks interesting. tarika's other albums are light, happy pop (haven't studied the lyrics). I hear that madagascar's being environmentally devastated as well.

Valery Novgorodov said...

Excuse me, i`ve got a problem with megaupload. Would you upload "Tarika - Son Egal (1997)" at any other site, please?

Radu said...

Alternative link:


Valery Novgorodov said...

Thank you very much.

ravalomanana said...

tsara be is malagasy and means thank you.
madagascar is the most beautiful country i ever traveled.

jatlee said...

Madagascar's musical diversity is huge. It's the only nation on earth with a musician on its currency (Rakoto Frah). Bamboo zithers, guitars, great stuff. Got any more?

Lucky said...

radu - here's Tarika's 4th album:

"Soul Makassar" (2001)
Sakay (SAKD 7037)

Recorded 1999-2000 in London (UK), Bandung and Jakarta (Indonesia) with Indonesian and London musicians guesting.

Info and cover in the file.
More info at http://www.tarika.nu/

Link: http://tinyurl.com/2uyd73

Cheers, Lucky!

Anonymous said...

Obrigado pelo "link" alternativo.