'larger-than-life force'

Bembeya Jazz National: ‘Regard sur le passé’, an epic anthem honouring Guinea’s Sékou Touré

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This article is part of the dossier:

Mythical African songs that made history

By Léo Pajon

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Posted on June 25, 2021 07:45

Recorded in 1969, the long musical epic poem that pays tribute to the country’s late president, Sékou Touré has been imitated far and wide.

This is part 4 of a 6-part series

‘Regard sur le passé’ also tells the story of Samory Touré, a Guinean resistance hero who challenged French colonial rule. “Culture is a better means of domination than the gun,” he once said.

After Guinea gained independence on 2 October 1958, its new president used artists as a way to consolidate power, promote patriotism and turn historical figures like Samory Touré into national heroes.

A tribute to bravery

Samory, the founder of the Wassoulou empire and an anti-colonial resistance figure who died in captivity on a Gabonese island, was Sékou’s great-grandfather. Sékou repatriated his ancestor’s ashes in late 1968, launching a national song competition to pay tribute to the bravery of such fighters who dared stand up to Guinea’s colonial invaders. Numerous orchestras took on the challenge.

He’s the reason why we’re where we are today, he’s the

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