Our Global Hit today takes us to Ivory Coast. This might not be music you'd expect to hear from a West African country. For that matter, it's not the kind of music many Ivorians want to hear. But SOME Ivorians are listening to it. The World's Marco Werman has more.
Rock 'n' roll is hard to sell to many Africans. And yet, at the Live 8 concert in 2005, you can imagine that many in Africa could relate to The Who for example.
That line from "Won't Get Fooled Again" "I'll tip my hat to the new constitution...take a bow for the new revolution..."
...well, Liberians lived through that. And Nigerians must surely get the line, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."
Rock n roll has often been cast as rebel music. In Ivory Coast, there is a musician who knows that from personal experience. His name is Kutchala Sutchi. And this is what Sutchi and his band sound like.
As rock goes, it's a bit dated, plumbing the shallow depths of 80s power-guitar chords. But Kutchala Sutchi admits his influences are not current.
Sutchi says he really likes The Who, especially lead singer Roger Daltrey. I noticed, says Sutchi, that when The Who ended their performances, they smashed their instruments. On their records, he says, they might not smash their instruments, but you know the music comes from the heart.
There is musical energy in abundance in Ivory Coast. It just doesn't come in the form of rock. The most popular styles in Ivory Coast are zouk from the Caribbean and a locally-grown booty-shaking dance music known as zouglou. And those sounds essentially dominate listening habits, especially in the southern part of the country.
That geographic precision is important, particularly for Kutchala Sutchi. See, this summer, the Ivorian musicians' union asked Sutchi to perform his music in the north. In 2002, a civil war in Ivory Coast essentially divided the country. There's a cease fire that is holding tenuously. But the musicians' union hoped that by getting Kutchala Sutchi to play in the north, they could help unify Ivory Coast.
At first Sutchi says he wasn't crazy about the idea.
â€œBeh, sincerement j'avais de l'apprehension...â€
Sutchi says he was reluctant to go to the north. He says he'd heard accounts that shooting was still going on there. But he says he's always viewed artists and musicians as people in tune with human suffering. That's why I went, Sutchi says.
Bar owners in the south say that if they played Sutchi's music, they'd have to close down their establishments because no one would tolerate sounds like this. But when Kutchala Sutchi finally played in northern Ivory Coast, he says he was overwhelmed by the reception.
The welcome was fantastic, he says. The local media showered me and the band with compliments. The people fed us! He says. It really moved me to tears.
And that is worth more than money in the bank he says. The people were happy, and it made me happy. Kutchala Sutchi is ready to take his Ivorian rock back to the north.
Since he returned to his home in the south, he says he feels out of place. In fact, Sutchi is such an anomaly there, his nickname is toubabou, or white man. But for a musician who idolizes Roger Daltry, he doesn't take that as an insult. This is a guy after all who says his life dream is to play Wembley Stadium in London.
For The World, I'm Marco Werman.