Thursday, July 13, 2006

further developments

What happened in the aftermath of three musicians quitting that group? The board members had a talk with me and explained their rationale for the rule: if loyalties are thinly divided, they fear that no one will take responsibility for anything. They also said that, since I'm just a visitor, the rule doesn't apply to me; I can do what I want, as far as they're concerned.

However, the musicians themselves said petty jealousy was the real explanation for this rule, and, furthermore, that it would be inappropriate (as in, socially weird, a faux pas)for me to both stay with the first group and join a new group. They said that it was my decision and that there would be no hard feelings regardless of which direction I take, but that I must choose between them. I objected in vain. I'm not going to leave the first group, but I haven't given up hope of getting to know the new group. Last night, on the spur of the moment, they invited me to perform with them, which I did. And, by coincidence, one of their dancers is a server at a restaurant I frequent.

Both the drumming and the dancing they displayed were fantastic - a significant cut above the average, it seemed to me (the musicians themselves don't mind telling me that they hold their own playing in the same high esteem). Most of them have been gigging musicians since the age of ten. They launched right in at break-neck tempo, eschewing the typical practice of slowly increasing speed as excitement builds among the assembly. Even to play maracas with these folks was both a thrill and an honour.

And what has happened for the original group in performance? They have some new people who, to my ear, are certainly not as good. Second - and surprisingly - one of the guys who supposedly quit returns for performances, but doesn't attend regular meetings! In other words, he's still breaking the rule, everyone seems to know it, but no action has been taken yet.

can't resist

Two or three months ago, I performed with an ensemble at an opening ceremony-of-sorts in Bangangte. Lots of townspeople were in attendance. What I didn't notice was that someone was videotaping the proceedings. Last week, as I walked into town in the morning, several of my friends stopped me to ask if I'd watched TV the night before. It turns out that exerpts from this opening ceremony had been broadcast on national television (a channel called "CANAL 2") to advertise the Medumba Cultural Festival which opened in Bangangte on July 8th. My maraca-playing had been featured and now people all over the country know there's a foreigner in Bangangte who can play "traditional" music. One of my friends in the Peace Corps says I'm becoming a Bangangte rock star.