Music: the Mythical Orchestra Baobab Celebrates its 50th Anniversary in Dakar

maryam lahbal
maryam lahbal
2 Min Read

As the iconic Senegalese ensemble, Orchestra Baobab marks its 50th anniversary this year, it continues to defy the test of time, overcoming the loss of several members along the way. With great fervor, the band took to the stage in Dakar on Friday, March 10, to commemorate the momentous occasion. In an exclusive interview with RFI, Juliette Dubois caught up with the musicians, both seasoned and new, as they passionately strive to uphold the timeless legacy of the Baobab.

It was in 1970, in the Baobab club in Dakar, that the group was formed. Cuban sounds, Wolof and Serer songs… A beautiful cocktail that will experience a second youth in the 2000s, after a 15-year break.

The anniversary postponed by the Covid-19 pandemic is finally celebrated this year. The opportunity to pay tribute to the missing members of Orchestra Baobab. But no question of touching the style and identity of the group.

“All the producers ask us to keep the very identity of the Baobab. It’s very important. But we tend towards modernity all the same. We have a new generation, our children. There will be a touch of modernity,” explains Thierno Koité, the band’s conductor.

Among the newcomers, there is René Sowatche, alias Boléro, who joined the group in 2016: “At the beginning, I admit that it was still a bit hot to cover the songs, the classics like Utru Horas, Jiin Ma Jiin Ma… The legend of Barthélémy Attisso left a legacy that I wanted to discover. »

Fifty years later, the Orchestra Baobab is therefore more rooted than ever. Yakhya Fall, guitarist, assures: “The Baobab is eternal, that’s obvious. Because when you cut a root, it grows back. When you cut a branch, it grows back. »

Maryam Lahbal

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