Voyages & Découvertes

Sweet Melodies

Tuesday 17 December 2013 by Stephan Mardaga

It is his group anniversary: ‘Sweet Melodies’, as I devise it in my own title and description of the event. A friend called Cyril Dundas gives me an unexpected invitation to be part of this musical party. In other words, we are going to party by playing together.
Being an intimate friend, I have already had the chance to watch their shows which break into full blown display near his house in a popular neighbourhood close to Monrovia in Liberia.
I decided to go there on foot as the place is not far, however, an unexpected torrential rain caused me to change mind. Then I get into a car carrying along with me: wine, beer, coconuts and chocolates to the place.
It is still mid-afternoon and nothing has begun in this connection. I am going to say hi…to a family or to some noisy women who cook food and somehow they arrive lately. A little girl called Letitia was close by them. Cyril discreetly informed me not to meddle with the African native women; rather, I should be among the men. Well, I am going to rejoin the first musicians at the end of the house to speak with them and get the correct sharp sound of the music. Cyril is rehearsing his amplifier which can make a church hire him.
There sit two little girls on a short wall. I speak to them in French, and the senior one responds. I ask her from where he learns the French language. Her focus goes now to the little sister and the little one looks at me with large eyes. This one does not speak; she looks at me and reveals her face only. And that is all she does during the afternoon when I want to speak to her;…..what a surprise!

I realize at last that the afternoon has only just begun at four o’clock and that we try to gather together the rest of the group. And we begin to converse about some social events. Behold, I soon start to narrate a truthful story about a Congolese friend. His grandfather a great renowned hunter in his region goes on hunting expedition. He lies in wait and now here comes a doe running straight towards him.
He adjusts himself on the side in order to reach the target better and the animal branches off to take refuge quite trembling with the head between its legs. In utter wonderment, he sees a lion coming towards the place for its prey. The lion understandably, catches sight of the hunter and stops puzzled. The grandfather readies his gun for firing saying to himself that he has a bullet to kill it or he will be dead so they stay face to face and the trembling doe always between his legs. The lion turns and goes back. What the hunter is therefore going to do? I ask the guitarist (Sackie). Sackie answers me that he will kill the doe and eat it. Aië, aië ! No, you’re entirely wrong.
In fact, the grandfather leaves the doe and decides not to hunt any more for the rest of his life. Amazed, Sackie tells me that this is a superb story to make a song out of it. Well I am going to find the name of this guy and like that, you will be able to put the story into music. Yea, into reggae music… all that you need to do is to sing, “There was a man”…... We all got into a big laughter.

And the little girl keeps on looking at me with her large eyes. At last, the musicians start arriving in small groups and begin to set up the instruments.
Cyril gives me an armchair to sit on, and the little girl comes around me with a stool to sit at my side. I speak to her, but she does not respond. An old lady passes by with a pleasing smile animating her countenance. She ensconces herself on the house’s verandah near us, looking morally special and blissful. I send for cool sweetened water and I ask a boy to offer it to her. She thirstily (gluttonously) drinks the water and I show her a sign of thumb-up to indicate to her my goodwill. She responds the same way. One can know from this that happiness is simple and natural; it is not something that is difficult to get. Some fellows brought chairs; and the music, started in full swing using guitar, organ, to give out nice rhythm depicting African reggae. It takes no more time for all the children in the yard to come to the place. However, the traffic in the alley makes the people dance cautiously.
At this point, the musicians have really opened up; they play with joy and enthusiasm. The night is much spent now, so I decide to go home having decided to congratulate the musicians, but they hardly look my way. Returning home, I start humming as I am full of contentment. And further, reflecting always on the two large eyes which continue to stare at me.

Translator : Kwabena Twum


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