Friday, November 21, 2008

Welcoming two more

We have had first-time visitors from a few more countries and I am still a bit behind on my welcomes, for which I apologize. My body is adjusting back to life at 5000 feet altitude and I have been sluggish ever since returning from sea level in Louisiana. Indeed, I was still in New Orleans when these visitors arrived the same day as our first visitors from Mongolia and French Polynesia. So, a very tardy but hearty welcome to our first visitors from Haiti and the Gambia.

The Republic of Haiti (French, République d'Haïti; Haitian Creole, Republik Ayiti) occupies the western third of the island of Hispaniola, the rest being occupied by the Dominican Republic. This division has historical roots in a division of the island between the French and Spanish in the Treaty of Ryswick (1697). The nation takes its name from the indigenous Taino word Aytí, meaning "mountainous land." The capital is Port-au-Prince, the official languages are French and Haitian Creole. Its governance is as a presidential republic and the estimated population is 8.7 million.

Haiti is the only country in the western hemisphere with a successful slave revolution but its history is marked with foreign intervention and brutal dictatorship. Poverty and political instability have made life difficult for the Haitian people. [Wikipedia]

One night, after flying back to New Orleans, I rode a cab downtown with a Haitian driver and we chatted almost the entire trip in French, which was fun.

The Republic of the Gambia flanks the Gambia River and is surrounded by Senegal on all sides except the coast, being the smalled nation in mainland Africa. The capital is Banjul and the largest metropolitan area is Serekunda. English is the official language and the population is estimated at 1.7 million. The population is 90% Muslim and both Muslim and Christian holidays are celebrated. The media operate under strong constraints and journalists must toe the line with respect to any semblance of criticizing the government. [Wikipedia]

And now for some music:

1998 video song from this legendary Haitian group (Zèklè) who's been playing music for more than 25 years composed of the Widmaier brothers (Joel, Mushi) whose family had a crucial role in the evolution of Haitian jazz and kompa. Grandfather Ricardo Widmaier was the first to record Haitian jazz, and father Herby Widmaier was the first to record "Kompa direct" of Nemours Jean-Baptiste who's accredited as the father of Kompa.
Also featuring popular guitarist/composer Claude Marcelin and Raoul Denis, Jr.

Koudjay-Gran manje-Haitian music

ZIN-Ti randevou(Haitian music)

Gambia Music and Images

Gambia Banko [lots of photos of the Gambia and its people]

Toumani Diabate plays the Kora [lovely but way too short!]

So just a bit more - Kora Playing by TOUMANI DIABATE & THE SYMMETRIC ORCHESTRA

--the BB


FranIAm said...

Do you read Toujours Dan? He is in Senegal and will be in the Gambia soon.

I love how you chronicle your visitors this way.

Paul said...

How cool for Dan (that sexy man!). Alas, I visit him occasionally but not regularly, so I did not know this. Thanks for the tip.

FranIAm said...

Go see his blog - plus a great flickr photo stream that he links to. And deep sigh - he is a sexy man. The flickr will reveal that.