Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Orisha chants for fun with Mama Lisa

My little blogspot buddy Stat Counter that lets me keep dibs on my reading public has a neat function called Recent Visitor Map. It shows the Earth with little tags marking the spots where people have accessed Confluence City. I am so happy right now to see even one little tag on the continent of Africa: in Dakar, Senegal.

No need to guess about this visitor. Mama Lisa already let me know it was her:

"As I am spending my last Saturday night in Dakar, I have treated myself to a night at Sofitel Hotel. This has given me the chance to read your last two posts. Somehow Mike Nelson remained on my mind. I had also stopped in on 'Mike and Friends' before I left town and saw K. Curtis Lyle and others. It was a nice gathering. Mike let me squeeze in an Orisha chant for fun."

It would not be possible to calculate the value, to me, of having friends who allow one another to "squeeze in an Orisha chant for fun."

Back to Mama Lisa:

"So while attending a balafon performance in Bamako, what do I hear? Orisha music and singing was the opening feature of the set. I couldn't believe it. I would not have guessed that Nigerian worship music would be appreciated in the heart of the Mali Empire. Of course, I wanted to jump up and repeat my 'Mike and Friends' skit, but I could tell that they did not know the song well, but could expand the music on two big balafons and a couple of gourd drums. They touched into Elegba and Yemanya. For the rest of the evening, cross-sections of the audience jumped up to shake a tailfeather to their favorite tunes."

Mama Lisa is a whirlwind of creative spirit here in Confluence City, a sister girl well on her way to transforming herself into a healer and an elder. These are sort of soft words, "healer" and "elder," but it has been a hard way for her, as a single mother of three, working her tailfeather off as an educator and arts organizer - and as a woman leader in the very male-dominated world of African drum and dance.

The photo, here, is of her (in the gold dress), along with Fawoud, Senabou, Ndeye N'Diaye, and Mama Djarra, at Goree Island, the historic former slaving hub. She writes, "Here we are in a bunker tunnel listening to a lecture on sand paintings using the sands from around the region: the island, pink lake area, volcano, etc."
Stick with Confluence City, and you will hear more of Mama Lisa - she has much to teach us all - though I personally look forward to the future yammering where she has just treated me to three beers at The Tap Room! In the days before the Schlafly gift card, there used to be a scrap of cardboard behind the bar where the bartenders tried to keep track of whether or not I had finished drinking up the tab she had staked me with. Always time to squeeze in a beer and an Orisha chant with Mama Lisa!

For fun.

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