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Tuesday January 31, 2017

From okayafrica

*Fatoumata Diawara: “It’s Up to Us to Bring Africa to the World”
By: Megan Iacobini De Fazio

“Tonight I will have to cry a lot. When I am alone later, I’ll cry for a long time” Fatoumata Diawara says, her gaze falling beyond the tinted car windows. “I’ve seen so much today, and it’s important to process these things and not keep them inside”.
We’re driving past Korogocho slum, next to Nairobi’s biggest rubbish dump, where thousands of people make a living by digging for scraps and survive through the haze of the ever-smouldering rubbish piles.

The night before, Fatoumata shared the stage of Safaricom Jazz Festival with Roberto Fonseca, the renowned Cuban pianist whom she collaborated with on his album, YO. Fatoumata contributes cool, poignant vocals to album track “Bibisa,” which perfectly match Fonseca’s riff and the West African instrumentation of Baba Sissoko and Sekou Kouyate.

“Music from Mali and Cuba are not so different, you know, and they work so well together” she says, talking about her ongoing collaboration with Fonseca, whom she affectionately calls “my brother.”

Today, they are visiting Ghetto Classics, a project which uses music education to get kids off the streets, and away from a life in the slums. Fatou and Roberto listen as strings, woodwind, percussion, and brass sections are woven together to create uplifting, hopeful melodies.

It’s not long before Roberto is sitting at the piano, and Fatoumata, standing tall in the crowd, looking regal in a red and white Maasai headwrap, is encouraging everyone to take part. “You can sing, right? I will give some lyrics, and while they play we are going to sing all together.” The result is a rousing, upbeat jam session.

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