Oriki to Labah Sosse: music world mourns the passing of Dakars Prince of Afro-Cuban
In 2001 a group of African musicians led by guitarist Yakhya Fall travelled to Havana to record a record. Unlike other recording projects, the group did not try to incorporate Cuban musicians or, with the exception of one song, record Cuban classics. Rather, the group came to breathe the air and came into contact with the essence of what had inspired their careers.
The group was called Los Afrosalseros de Senegal and included a phenomenal singer, Labah Sosseh, whom they called the "prince of the Dakar Afro-Cuban scene" or simply "el Maestro."
Labah Sosseh passed away, at age 64, in Dakar, Senegal according to French news agency EFE which reported on the repercussions this sad event is having in musical circles of West Africa.
In Cuba, Sossehs music mostly went unnoticed by a media more focused on the latest music from London, New York, Mexico and Madrid, or to whatever artist being pushed by MTV and VH1, than by musical happenings in other parts of the world. And this despite the fact that Sosseh recorded a great CD with Orquesta Aragon and devoted almost fifty years of his life "playing in groups such as Ibra Kassé's Star Band" to Cuban music. Other popular African artists with marked Cuban musical influences include Pepe Fall and Mar Seck, and the bands Baobab and Africando.
National television programs such as Música del Mundo, hosted by Guille Vilar, and Sur, hosted by Alberto Faya, can and should help recover the recent shared musical history of Cuba with Senegal and Gambia, Angola and the Ivory Coast, Congo and Guinea, and Mali and Benin. Another positive step in this direction is the dedication of Cubadisco 2008 to Africa and the African diaspora.
When Sosseh came to record in Havana he said, "I feel that Cuba, with its son and salsa, has given back to Africans a new sense of our musical life."
Back in Dakar, the voice of Sosseh lives on, after making Cuban songs such as Benny Mores Maracaibo Oriental, and Seyni and Aminta eternal in the memory of Africans.