Fatai Rolling Dollar
Everyone knows about Africa's great "oral tradition". The downside to this tradition, however, is that we often fail to take good care of, or preserve, the documents of our cultural achievements. We do this as much with our architecture, our art (our museums wouldn't be such sorry sights if we really cared about preserving our culture, and about passing on the knowledge of why such preservation is important) as we do with music and film.
Take music. The growth in interest in African music from earlier eras means you can now buy CD compilations or vinyl re-issues of great tracks and albums from Africa's post-independence years. But many of gems were gathering dust until an interested European DJ or collector turned up. And, until then, many of the musicians who actually made the records were forgotten. It's as if we don't realise that these musicians are also repositories of our muscle history.
We should be archiving our cultural history, not because we can do it better than a European DJ but because we have different stories to tell. Our understanding of who our iconic musicians, artists, poets and writers are — based on a shared history and understanding of culture — immediately gives us a different perspective. And our understanding of the legacies they inherited, and how they then went on to lay the groundwork for the new generation of musicians, poets and artists, creates a different agenda to that of the DJ on the lookout for something that will satisfy fans of "exotic-sounding" Funk.
This is where projects like Elder's Corner come in. Nigerian singer, songwriter, producer and filmmaker Siji is currently filming what he hopes will become an oral and visual archival document of Nigeria's musical history, from colonialism to the present day.
He and a small crew have already shot over 30 hours of material, and the shoot has so far been self-funded. He needs your financial support for the final six months of filming. UPDATE (2nd November, 2011): Crowdfunding target met and exceeded!
The film will be a musical journey through pivotal moments in the colourful history of Nigeria as told through the lives and careers of the nations foremost music legends, for instance Orlando 'OJ' Julius, Fatai Rolling Dollar, Emperor Dele Ojo, Tony Benson, Jimi Solanke and Chris Ajilo. It will tell the story of the eroding effects of colonialism, bitter ethnic clashes, politics, oil, power, money and their combined effects on a nation that recently celebrated its 50th year of self rule.
Shot against the colourful and gritty backdrop of some of Nigeria’s cities, particularly Lagos, the film will use a mix of in depth interviews, archival footage, still photographs, and modern day performance footage to chronicle and showcase the lives and work of some of the leading exponents of the various musical movements that spawned Afrobeat, Juju, Apala, Highlife and Fuji music.
It will include interviews with musicians like the legendary jazz pianist Randy Weston, world renowned DJ/Producer and Yoruba Records founder Osunlade, legendary vibraphonist and soul funk maestro Roy Ayers, Afrobeat DJ/Producer Rich Medina and singer, songwriter and performer Wunmi, but also with relevant journalists, historians and political figures.
Finally, it will bring the "old" and the new together in a series of collaborative, live music performances and recording sessions between some of the featured icons and musicians from the present generation, including Nneka, Keziah Jones, Ade Bantu and Siji himself.
This is an ambitious and worthwhile project, but Siji needs to raise the necessary $20,000 by the 31st of October. You can pledge anywhere from $10 to $5,000, or more (what you get in return depends on the amount you contribute: film credit, hand-carved talking drum, autographed copy of the DVD, etc.), so visit Siji's Elder's Corner KickStarter page now and pledge what you can to keep production going.