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Shukubly: Manifesto of a SaLone Artist by Marco Koroma


Marco Koroma takes the wheel for this journey with a guest feature article on the zeitgeist of the Sierra Leone music scene.

The influence of art in the Sierra Leonean society is undeniable. From the hit songs that outline the “maps” in December to the kontri klos that offers the pride of nativity, the arts have always shaped and reflected, the Sierra Leonean society. But, ironically, in Sierra Leone, and in most African countries, this crucial piece of society’s fabric is reserved for those who could not “make it” in life.

In 2018, Sierra Leonean Afro-Rap artiste, Drizilik, released his much-anticipated project, Shukubly. In the opening track, also titled Shukubly, is a prologue to a project that reflects the beauty and struggles of the Sierra Leonean society (let’s keep this for another blog post), and on its own is a beautifully crafted manifesto by a true SaLone artist.

The fine and performing arts have always served as an outlet for many, and our society appreciates it as long it is “on the side” or a hobby, being a full-time artist anywhere is tough, but the devaluing of Art in Sierra Leone has eroded the pride that comes with being an artist.

Drizilik confronts this notion by opening Shukubly, both song and project, with a declaration. A declaration by an artist who has dedicated time to harnessing his skills and mastering his craft, and he is aware that he treads the road not taken; an artiste with a vision and a purpose.

“A tek dis tin sirios ivin if na fun to all
A suppose for de hammer a nor bon for fall
ivin if success nor return mi call
If A ever turn back a go turn to salt”

These bars are repeated on “Aw Ar Lef Os”, making it clear that they are thought out and repeated to let his audience and fellow artists know that even though some may consider this “thing” a joke, he is dedicated to and passionate about his craft. Drizilik goes a step further to make known his intention to succeed, and he compares quitting to the catastrophe that befell Lot’s wife.

“Noto pan boku tok
Yu fil se na fulish fo le man dem rich dis far”

In a time where mediocrity abounds, few have gone against the grain to put in the required effort to achieve their goals, but when your goals don’t align with the norm you’re ostracized and considered foolish, by both the mediocre and exceptional, for putting so much effort into a lowly craft.

Two sold-out shows, an international tour, and endorsements by corporations, will we still consider Benjamin George foolish for pursuing his dreams? Some may only see the current shine and ignore the zeal and zest it takes to gain acclaim in any field, the art being no different.

“Hustle for the paper so we earn inna the shukubly

Remuneration is an integral part of the equation. The need for money cannot be overemphasised. Sierra Leoneans may enjoy and love art, but the culture of paying for art is not encouraged. Most artists have been stifled by the need for a sustainable income, yet some have found the balance; maintaining a 9-5 whilst being a full-time artist (shout out to Prodigy, Freetown’s Finest). Creating sublime content is expensive, and passion and zeal can only take an entrepreneur so far. Drizilik in this manifesto makes it crystal clear that his art is his hustle, and he should earn from it, so should every artist producing standard content.

“Sky-rising lekke sun inna the shukubly
Watch you neba noto fun inna the shukubly
Kukujumuku wi de ban inna the shukubly
Help you brother if you can inna the shukubly”

In Sierra Leone, the phenomenon of giving back to society is neither propagated nor appreciated. Drizilik recognises his success and that of some of his peers, so he implores artists and audiences in the shukubly to give a helping hand as they make their ascent to success.

Collaborations are also a medium of giving back or lending a helping hand, yet they are so underrated in our contemporary; we need more artists from diverse fields collaborating to give us a blend we cannot fathom. I hope this means we will see more collaborations from Ben 10 over 10.

“Ben 10 over 10 na di shukubly
If yu look inside me heart na di shukubly”

I believe the shukubly is a metaphor for many things, but my favourite is SaLone. Over the years many Sierra Leoneans have left for greener pastures, but only a handful have returned to make good the diabolic system that forced them out. But, if home is where the heart is then Sierra Leone is where Drizilik’s heart is. Like every human, his instincts may lead him to search for fertile ground, but he assures us that his heart will lead him home:

“Wi go go bɔt wi always kam bak/Leke se wi fɔget sɔmtin na di shukubly”

Sierra Leoneans are no strangers to manifestos, but we are yet to witness a manifesto upheld and its promises fulfilled (shout out to the red lorry and the green lorry). As a fan, I appreciate Drizilik’s sincerity on Shukubly, but being a luminary to a generation with no genuine hero his word is dear, and the expectation might be overwhelming. As an artist, I consider this manifesto a challenge to improve and elevates the standards of the arts.

So in whichever corner of the shukubly, you find yourself –

“One time for your mind na di shukubly”

Written by Marco Koroma

-Marco Koroma is a content developer and an art curator.

Check out PoyoPapi (@Marco_Krm): https://twitter.com/Marco_Krm?s=08

-Check out the album of Benjamin aka Drizilik on http://smarturl.it/Listenshukubly and follow his Twitter on https://twitter.com/drizilik?s=08

#Conundrum, #earth, #love, #sierra-leone, #sierra-leone literature, #SierraLeone, #the human-condition, Blogger, Blogging, Nostalgia, Short Story, Uncategorized

The Disco Bash (Short Story)


It was the late 90’s to the early side of the 2000’s, the era of faded jeans, the Walkman paving way for the disc man and the trend of jazzy youth “luxing” in Freetown. One of the features in hailing from a family filled with older brothers and cousins is their knack of grilling, teasing and being initiated into a rite of never ending stories.

In the rare times I was granted permission to be in -“The Stronghold” as my brothers called their bedroom, I sat on the floor with folded feet and stared at them in awe and drank in every details as they conversed. I was a very curious kid, let me don’t euphemize, I was a very “congosa pikin”, and so when I was barred entry I found ways to eavesdrop.

Boy, the stories I heard! Let me tell you about the Disco Bash.

My brother, let’s call him Max had been in party prepping mode for a month. Trips to the barbershop with him returning doo rag donned to protect his waves, brand new Reebok Pump sneakers straight from the box and my dad’s Hugo Boss cologne suddenly going missing.

Dash card, cash box and neighborhood Sunday cleaning, Max left no stone unturned to raise funds.

Finally, the D-Day dawned, from what I could piece together from the narrative, the party kicked off with a bang. DJ Sonny was on location at Rumors Night Club swinging and the ladies came through in droves.

Then, the generator made a rumbling noise and went out. It was no trouble, a mechanic was handy, he sorted the electrical issue in no time to rousing cheers from the crowd and went home, assured his work was done.

Freetown had many rival social club sects back the who vied for premier relevance. Apparently, one of these groups had been plotting and planning to topple my brother’s sect.

The generator which had been marked as the weak link was first smoothly disconnected, then a big boom box tape recorder had recorded it’s sound and put on a repeat loop, whilst the generator was carted away. So when the lights went out again, all assumed it was just another electrical issue, it was sheer shock as my brother and his friends arrived at the backyard to see an old beaten down boom box at top volume bleating out generator noise.

Bad luck, they say come in series never single.

The ECOMOG located around the vicinity had been notified by a tip off (probably from the rival group) or rather just by the aggrieved crowd loudly venting at their party being cut short. It was after curfew hours after all, so when the ECOMOG breezed in with their vehicles, it was fleeing time as the palpable fear and possibility of the notorious soldier dubbed Evil Spirit amongst the Nigeria officers sent many flying as if their feet were those of Hermes.

My brother was never known for his athleticism; he was amongst the few caught.

His best friend -Sugarmouth Joe was selected to be the speaker when the soldiers enquired why they were out. Joe was a celebrated smooth talker and a lady’s man. By now, it was almost dawn and as Joe went ahead to make sign language and writing on the dusty earth, my brother and his cohorts knew they were royally in the deep end, because if Joe took the deaf and dumb route, it sure was trouble.

They took the belting that came in stride, and they were all dropped off at their various points later on in the day.

Max of course told a different story why he stayed away so long from home.

I later knew the real story because of my eavesdropping exploits.

Of course I could not just let this go, I noticed Max was very slow in sitting down, and a slight spasm of pain flickered on his face whenever his bum touched a chair.

I chose those specific moments to go “Vroom, Vroom, Ecomog day kam, I am a Disco dancer” and he would chase me across the room, but I always fled from his grasp.

Max was never a good sprinter.

THE END

NB

* Luxing was a slang in Krio in the 90’s that translates to define a well dressed individual.

*Congosa Pikin is a phrase in Krio that translates to an extremely inquisitive and stubborn kids.

#Conundrum

Freetown Night Life by Dominique Fofanah
Freetown Night Life by Dominique Fofanah
#Conundrum, #KamandaKoroma, #landmark, #love, #poem, #poetry, #sierra-leone, #sierra-leone literature, #SierraLeone, #the human-condition, #thoughts, Blogger, Blogging

Blogging from Sierra Leone: The ‘Why’.


There are millions of narratives online about people and their stories, mostly as strangers without meeting each other we connect with these experiences as we find ourselves relating to them. The intricate nature of human existence is the simple truth that in our differences we notice familiar things that brings us to the earthy truth that we are but just a singular race.

Every human has a story to tell and it’s no wonder in this day and age why blogging holds such a strong allure. Strangely the idea to create a blog to post my poems, articles and ramblings came not from me , but from my cousin, Ibrahim Jalloh (R I P).I had shared a piece via WhatsApp to him and after reading, he remarked that it would be a great idea to have a platform to air out my writings.

In his words he said, ”Kamanda, you have to save your writings and keep them so that they can be a moment in time when you had these thoughts. After all, even if no one reads them, they will always live”. These words rang true, Ibrahim always did have a penchant to say the rights things in a modest way.

Naturally I had some misgivings about the whole idea out of fear of internet trolls and another from the insecure idea that I thought my writings weren’t good enough. I slept on his advice. Several days later I set up a WordPress account and the rest as they say is history.

Blogging from Sierra Leone is not an easy feat. For starters, the internet penetration in the country is relatively low, and the data charges are somehow steep. Less than 10% of Sierra Leone’s approximately 7 million citizens utilize any social media tool and of that number the vast majority use Facebook and the cross platform app WhatsApp the most.

The reality is if you intend to tell the Sierra Leonean story via blogging, you come to terms with the stark truth that your countrymen will most likely not be a huge chunk of your audience. This realization alone is enough to deter many, I have known many fellow writers who started off writing on WordPress or Blogspot only to abandon it due to lack of instantaneous followers. Some chose to stick to Facebook blogging with the same recycled audience and recycled feedback.

I was tempted to take the easy route, but I did not. It dawned on me slowly that it would be better to grow an organic following from complete strangers and also from people I knew who would click my WordPress blog link to let my writing speak for itself. I held the firm belief that if I had to evolve from the cocoon of familiarity of the usual audience feedback that my Facebook posts garnered, I would be stuck in an endless loop, and what I craved was growth along with a bigger platform to tell my stories.

It has been almost two years now and I am approaching 500 followers. Through it all I have learnt some vital lessons. Blogging like any art form requires dedication. You have to put in the work to connect with your audience. The sooner you realise that the quality of your content will boost or reduce the feedback you get, the wiser you will become.

There is nothing I appreciate more than the feedback from readers and fellow bloggers, every comment or a like indicates that someone, somewhere took their time to read what I had to offer and leave a response. On some days as a dabbling writer that is the only thing we require, it’s less about a thirst for the spotlight and more about appreciation that comes with understanding. Blogging brings you closer with the art of others that gives you the necessary push that also stimulates the growth of your own art.

I can say without an iota of doubt that my writing has improved because I have encountered sound writers on this WordPress platform who have directly or indirectly influenced me with their brilliance and simplicity in tackling complex issues.

Blogging instills in you the confidence to air out what you have been stifling. The relief that such an outlet offers is priceless. To tackle the social ills of a nation on a broad expanse of issues and proffer solutions. Every complimentary feedback I receive motivates me to do more and tell our stories.

To every other Sierra Leonean blogger out there, keep doing you. Tell your story.

I will keep on blogging and sharing my experiences, as a voice from the western side of my continent, and let our stories be part of the album of the playlist of the myriad online stories written by people from around the globe.

In the words of Marco Koroma,

“Impact is greater than clout”.

#Conundrum