Saturday, June 11, 2011

"One Tribe, Many Voices" Podcast Episode 116

Moroccan musicians

Puerto Rican musicians
This week we connect the dots: From Dar Magreb to the Caribbean by way of Andalusia.

The area of North Africa that was dubbed "Dar Magreb" (The West), by those of the Arabian peninsula, is a swath of present day Southern Portugal and Southern Spain that was once known as Andalusia.

For nearly  a thousand years, Andalusia was a melting pot society that had a distinctly African-Berber culture. Both Spain and Portugal were transformed forever by the centuries of Islamic cultural imprint. Today, there are over 10,000 Arabic words in Spanish & Portuguese. The Arabic-speaking Africans brought string instruments, castanets and drums that would forever change the music of these two African border states.

Yet, the people in the northern regions of Spain and Portugal would one day unite and overthrow the Africans in the south. By the year 1492, fortunes had changed dramatically for the Muslims and Jews of Andalusia. That year the Spanish decreed the famed "Spanish Inquisition" that sought to purge Spain of all outside influences from Africa and the Orient. Not coincidentally, 1492 was also the year that a crafty mercenary named Cristobal Colon would buy maps from West African sailors that he would use to "discover the New World". Ironically for the Muslims and Jews who needed to flee from Spain's new Draconian policies, that New World would provide a safe haven for them. Sadly, for the West Africans, those maps would prove to be the beginning of a trade in human beings that would forever change the Old World and the New World. The first enslaved Africans that were transported in large numbers would be those very same Muslims from Senegal, Guinea and Yoruba Land.

If we fast forward to present times, we see that of the Three Sister Islands of Spain's Colonial Empire (Cuba, Santo Domingo and Puerto Rico), Puerto Rico has the most African-Berber cultural traces. One cultural marker can be seen in the (3) pandereta drums. These simple frame drums are not musically prominent anywhere else in the Caribbean. These drums (as seen above) provide a direct link from Puerto Rico to North Western Africa. The Plena rhythm that is played by these drums is the exact same (4)-beat pattern that is played through the Arabic-speaking world.

Today, there are at least sixteen Muslim mosques on the island as a process of reversion to Islam gradually moves across the former Spanish colonies. There is also a growing Palestinian immigrant population that feels right at home on the island.

Olga Tanon
Intro: Ah Ya Albi / Olga Tanon & Hakim

Set one:

El Salamu Alaikum / Hakim
Tool Omri / Nawal Al-Zoghbi

Set two:

Morena, Gitana / Rasheed Ali & Rain People
Baila, Baila, Baila / Hakim
Salsa Rai / Faudel feat. Yuri Buenaventura

Set three:

Tigy, Tigy / Don Omar & Hakim
Ala Habibi / Hakim
Besma / Hanan

Set four:

Sif Safaa / Mohamed Mounir
Ole, Ole / Rachid Taha
Hana, Hana / Cheb Khaled
Africa / Songhai feat. Toumani Diabate and Katemah