Do you play football in Africa?

Football along American lines is not played in Africa. A few missionaries from Great Britain tried introducing rugby in parts of the continent but it did not gain much steam in the face of soccer (globally referred to as football), which is the number one sporting activity in the world. Other sporting activities Africans are interested in are basketball, swimming, volleyball, handball, tennis, cycling, car racing, and other track and field events. Golf is gaining grounds among the rich, but one wonders if it could ever catch up with its popularity in the West even with the ongoing efforts towards sponsoring the game by some major companies.

Is there any game like "Catching the monkey?" I think I got that from Eddie Murphy's "Coming to America."

There is no such game as "catching the Monkey," in Africa. In fact, I heard of it for the first time from that same movie also. I know that we have hunters who go out hunting monkeys, but that is not a game to them, as this is done during serious hunting expeditions, and it is certainly not called "catching the monkey;" unless it is all right to talk of an American game called "Catching the Deer," since Americans love hunting deer, and more so for the fun of it than out of genuine need for deer meat.


What kind of music do you listen to in Africa?

Africa is certainly the heart of rhythms. The music variety from the continent of Africa dwarfs the number of languages spoken on the continent and these run into hundreds. Each language belongs to a community and their rhythms vary depending on the occasion— war, hunting, love, birth, death, joy, sadness, religion, traditional and contemporary, etc. In addition to local rhythms, Africans also listen to music from all over the world. One can comfortably say the rhythms of the West will be found in Africa very easily, in addition to those of the continent itself, some of which have never been heard in the West.

One of the continent's most popular genres, Afrobeat, is growing stronger every day in the West, albeit after the death of the founding father—Fela Anikulapo Kuti, popularly known as Fela, of Nigeria. Afrobeat is a combination of African percussions and vocal techniques along with a mixture of various African musical influences: Yoruba music variations in the main, funk rhythms, highlife and jazz. The subject of focus has been politics primarily, along with any other issues that constitute a nuisance in society or are simply worthy of attention, since Fela was himself a sociopolitical maverick. Accordingly, if he was not lambasting an individual, Fela sang about corruption in government and society as a whole, the failures of the United Nations, Western influence in Africa, and women in society.

The African music scene is crowded with internationally recognized musicians with varied rhythmic sensations, so much so that it is simply unreasonable to attempt naming anyone in this sea of artistic giants. In any case, a few of the earliest names that paved the way to international recognition and stardom are musicians like the glamorous South African queen of songs, Miriam Makeba; the legendary saxophonist, Manu Dibango of Cameroon; the godfather of Afrobeat, and multi-instrumentalist, the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti of Nigeria; and the talented guitarist and vocalist, Franco Luambo Makiadi from the Democratic Republic of Congo and his other contemporaries like Tabu Ley Rochereau, and the late Dr. Nico. The works of these giants, and of so many other equally successful pioneers of African music, those deceased and those still living, coupled with numerous younger artists and groups, continue to bring freshness to an old, established, and rich arena—that of African music.

Are the instruments used by your orchestras the same as Western instruments?

The instruments used by African bands are indicative of all the influences with which the continent has come in contact; these bands embrace Western instruments and more. Western instruments, accordingly, are a recent phenomenon on the continent of Africa, but music in Africa is as old as the people themselves. The result is that traditional African instruments are still very alive and are now being used along with Western instruments in existing westernized bands. Some of these African instruments, however, like the xylophone, and some rasps and rattles have been westernized, but there are others, like the hand piano, the tam-tam, and the kora, a sophisticated chordophone, which remain the same.

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