Who is the coolest Indian living

Black Indians? Black Indians!

The view from the airplane window on the return flight from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur revealed a last glimpse of the green carpet, from which the rainforest-covered Santubong protrudes like a jagged point. The cultural village built in the shadow of the mountain with the houses of the Orang Ulu, Bidayuh and Iban, tribes from Borneo, hosted the 7th Rainforest World Music Festival for three days (July 9-11), which again attracted more than 10,000 people captivated and fascinated. The village is a stone's throw from the China Sea and an hour's drive from Kuching, the capital of the Malaysian state of Sarawak on Borneo. The festival, initiated by the Canadian multi-instrumentalist, composer and ethnomusicologist Randy Raine-Reusch, has made a name for itself over the years for bringing small treasures from the international music scene to the stage. The Fawzy Al-Aiedy Bagdad Accoustic Band is such a musical gem. Fawzy is considered to be the best player of the Arabic lute oud. He was born in Iraq but has lived in Paris for over 30 years. His music is shaped by classical and traditional Iraqi music, arguably the richest in the Arab world. At least that's what the founder and director of the Orchester Orientale de Paris, Farhat Bouallagui, who himself plays the oriental violin Rebab, thinks. Without mentioning the war and terror in Iraq, the horror images were present, in contrast to the beauty of the music. Sidi Goma from Gujarat in India had surprising things to offer. After the call to prayer "Allah Akbhar - la ilah ha il lallah", which provoked some shouts from the audience, a circle of white-clad blacks formed, who gradually rose to the pulsating beat of the drums in a rousing ecstatic dance, its rhythm and movement are unmistakably African in origin. Again and again a dancer pushed himself into the foreground and demonstrated his individual steps and figures. “Our history books say Vasco da Gama discovered India. That's ridiculous. Our ancestors, coming from Africa, were there centuries before, «one dancer in the group had explained to his audience at the workshop in the afternoon. The Sidis are originally descended from African slaves and traders who came to Gujarat as early as the 13th century. Discriminated for centuries, they lived in their caste, which today still consists of around 20,000 people. They have long felt themselves to be Indians and no longer have any connection to the land of their ancestors except for the dances and songs, but they are irresistible. Sidi Goma learned that the existence of an African community is unknown in many places even in India when the group was stopped by the customs officer at the airport in Bombay on their way to England. “He suspected that the Indian passports were forged, that they were obviously Africans. It was only when we began to speak Hindi that he was convinced that we were real Indian citizens, ”said Abdul Hamid, a spokesman for the group, later in a conversation. A highlight of the festival was the performance of Black Umfolosi, a ten-member vocal group from Zimbabwe, which was invited for the second time since 2002. Their songs are rousing, especially because of the expressive voices in the tradition of South African singers, the intricate harmonies and the humor with which they are brought to the stage. They sing and dance in the tradition of their Zulu culture and started as a student group at a time when traditional music was something for the elderly, as Sotsha Moyo, the musical director, told me. Today there are many such music groups that have followed the example of the Umfolosi. It is fun for the young people to regain control of their songs and dances. The audience in the Cultural Village was blown away. When at the end after “Shosholosa” there was also “Mbube” (made famous long before Miriam Makeba by Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds) in its very own Umfolosi version, more than 10,000 sang and danced along. Jean Paul Sartre's succinct remark in his Italian travelogues - »You don't save the culture, you make it« - would be a fitting motto for the festival, which treats tradition with respect without becoming nostalgic and brings very lively music to the stage . This is guaranteed not least by the workshops on three afternoons in which all 16 groups were included. This is the place where foreign things are made understandable and where cultures meet. On Saturday afternoon, for example, Bapi Das Baul from the Baul Bishwa group showed the exotic world of the minstrels in Bengal under the theme of “Vatula Madness”. Baul is not just music, it also describes a sect. The Baul were troubadours who traveled through the villages and passed on their extensive knowledge of mythology, literature, but also news through their songs and dances. Their dances are reminiscent of those of the dervishes. In "Black and White and sometimes brown - Insights into the world of xylophones, accordions and gambangs" Tanio Lazzaro from the Sicilian group Tammorra played some tarantellas on his accordion, the accordionist from the Brazilian group Silverio Pessoa explained the Forro and Atjep Hidayat from the Indonesian group Samba Sunda played a Malay nursery rhyme with the participants on the Angklung, a bamboo instrument. One of the highlights of the afternoon workshops took place in the unfortunately much too small top house of the village, which was not able to cope with the crowd: Zulus meet Haka: The clash of warrior rituals of the Zulus (explained and danced by Black Umfolosi) and the Haka Maori from New Zealand. "Haka, that is the ritual in preparation for the upcoming fight that the All Blacks Rugby Team from New Zealand still practices today before every game," said Etueni Pita from the Te Vaka group from New Zealand. “Silk and Bamboo” on the last evening was a daring but ultimately successful experiment. The audience, who had danced and partied late into the night to the rhythms of Issa Bagayogo (from Mali) and Te Vaka (New Zealand), now played meditative Japanese music with the shakuhachi, the large, deep-sounding bamboo flute (1st floor) , 8 feet long). Ramli Ibrahim, probably the best living representative of the classical Indian Odissi dance and one of the driving forces of modern Malaysian theater, danced to his own choreography. The typical microtonal sounds can be produced on the bamboo flute by small movements of the neck, lips or chin. Christopher Yohmei managed to catch the audience's attention, initially sitting all alone like a Buddha on the big stage and playing the shakuhachi. Then Curtis Patterson and Maki Isogai came along with the koto, the great Japanese tremor. The music and dance groups from all continents presented world music in the best sense of the word on three evenings and during the afternoon workshops: the diversity of musical cultures and music as a connecting element. That was neither nostalgic nor popular, but rather topical, because it demands people's creative abilities, seeks exchange, respects and wants to understand different things and not ...

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