Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 7, No. 4, 2008
  Current Issue  
  Back Issues  
Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Mark Goldfarb
  Contributing Editors
Bernard Dubé
Robert Rotondo
Dan Stefik
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Diane Gordon
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Contributors
  Noam Chomsky
Mark Kingwell
Naomi Klein
Arundhati Roy
Evelyn Lau
Stephen Lewis
Robert Fisk
Margaret Somverville
David Solway
Michael Moore
Julius Grey
Irshad Manji
Richard Rodriguez
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Jean Baudrillard
Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward



© Marcel Dubois

report filed by Robert J. Lewis & Marcel Dubois


© Marcel DuboisFor those of us who have always wanted to visit Africa but cannot because it’s either prohibitively expensive or politically problematic, the next best thing is Montreal’s Nuit d’Afrique Festival, now in its 22 year. For two straight weeks, Africa’s most famous composers and musicians, several of whom are living in exile, bring their internationally renowned talents to Montreal’s celebrated club scene (Club Balattou, The National) for sights and sounds you’ll never forget.© Marcel Dubois

The last four days of the festival feature a series of free concerts that begin in the early afternoon and continue until deep into the evening at Place Emilie-Gamelin (at the Berri Metro), where you’ll find a simulacrum of an African market place such as you might find in Senegal and Ghana, fully stocked with African artifacts, native clothing and of course musical instruments, including the many varieties of skinned percussion instruments. Short of traveling to Africa, it’s the next best thing.

Surprise guests are always showing up at the free events. This year’s treat came by way of gentle poet rapper, slammer Souleymane Diamanka, who wanted to share with a larger audience the heights to which his genre of music is capable of rising. If every festival aspires to a moment of revelation, this year’s belonged to the meditative poetry of Diamanka whose penetrating words were set to melodic flights of hip hop and slam.

© Marcel Dubois

Other highlights included great Algerian Idir, the brilliantly creative and highly original reggae from Brazil’s Tribo de Jah and Nigeria’s Seun Kuti.

© Marcel DuboisWhat draws crowds to the inspired programming featured in Nuit d’Afrique is not only the music qua music, but what its music has to teach us as it concerns its complex character. When we find ourselves in the embrace of what is best in Africa’s sounds and soul, we’re in fact discovering or rediscovering its relationship with its original music that has informed much of the western idiom, which in turn has been brought back to Africa (western ennui enhanced by technology) for yet another cross-fertilization, which is why Africa’s music continues to thrive and challenge. Since a dynamic and flourishing music is one that does not recognize borders, that always looks for ways and means to reach out and ride, Montreal’s Nuit d’Afrique Music Festival is a golden opportunity to discover what’s new and true in Africa. Making it all happen is festival organizer Lamine Touré, who, out of musical necessity, has one foot in Montreal and the other in Africa -- and loving it.




Photo Credits: © MARCEL DUBOIS

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