VENUE: New Town Theatre, Venue 7, August 17 only
By ANGUS MITCHELL
THIS musical collective, arguably Scotland’s finest world music purveyors, is led by Samba Sene, a man who is politically engaged.
That ensures the eclectic global sound is accompanied with a rich serving of opinions and musings on the rights and wrongs of international relations.
Since arriving in Scotland in 1999, songwriter Sene has watched his homeland Senegal waver in its position as a touchstone for African democracy. Indeed, his close friend Khalifa Sall, former Mayor of Senegal’s capital Dakar, is currently imprisoned and contends that his incarceration is politically motivated.
The message is in the music for Sene and his band, with titles such as ‘Africa Danu Ko Jay’ (They Sold Africa) and ‘Digale’, meaning Promise. Despite the powerful political overtones there is an enriching joy throughout. The band almost subversively tailor the vitriol, under rhythmic cadences, led by Sene’s pre-meditated guitar style.
Make no mistake, despite the rolling groove, Sene retains a profoundness in his performance. Of the word ‘Digale’, he affirms, “In another word it’s betrayal, because some people seem to not keep their words in life. If I say I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it and I expect the same back.”
Senegalese Shindig’s world music credentials are evident throughout the performance. Before arriving in Scotland Sene was influenced by bands such as Toure Kunda and Missale. He has tried to draw away from the mbalax sound, which is 100% percussion, and create “music that would be consumed by the world”.
Working in banking for RBS, then onto Scottish Widows, he now works in IT support at Standard Insurance, all positions which simply help him support his true passion.
As he puts it: “ I always wanted to do music but my parents didn’t allow me. I came here to please my parents. When we released our first album, I asked my Dad to pray for us. He asked, ‘You never gave up the music?’ No, I’m still doing it, I said. He said, ‘If it is not affecting your job, well I’ll pray for you’. His blessing given in 2010.”
In the New Town Theatre, the crowd moved to the songs as if in an echoless African Savannah, enthralling everyone who showed up.
The discordance between Western corporations and African culture motivates what Sene does and what he dedicates all of his efforts to addressing.
“We only want the welfare and well-being of the Universe. We want fairness, we want justice, because, Africa is broken at the moment. We shouldn’t be relying on international aid. We have gold, oil, agriculture. Those things are key for development. The best quality is exported to Europe and we receive the third choice, or fifth choice,” he says.
“We have oil, then the American companies or French companies export it. They take like 95%, we get 5%, which we don’t get in cash, we receive compensation in debt. They say you owe us this, so your 5% will go towards the debt. In return we get absolutely nothing. That’s what makes me sad.”
Scottish folk music has also influenced Sene’s sound, both for its melody and its identity with rebellion. Indeed Senagelese Shindig were called in to support Donnie Munro and have also toured Italy with Cantara.
Venues and money aside, the take away from the Senegalese Shindig was a feeling of ravishing happiness, right through to the core. The upbeat music, mixed with positive messages help nourish the soul.
Hopefully this will help bring Scotland’s best World Music band to the fore and deliver them to a bigger stage for unheard voices and world perspectives.