Africa Yontii

19/05/2024Sengalese Guitarist Tidiane Thiam Releases Compelling Appeal To Africa To Take Back The Reins Of Its Own Destiny

There's an innate beauty to this new album by Senegal's Tidiane Thiam, but beyond its pensive allure lies a more profound concept, one of pride and provenance and hope. Titled "Africa Yontii", which is Pulaar – a Fula language spoken primarily in the Senegal River valley area – and translates to 'Africa, It's Time', this nine-track instrumental guitar serenade carries within it a deep-seated dream: “It’s time. Africa, it’s time. It’s time that Africa changes. It’s time our leaders change. Everything that happens in Africa is extraordinary. We have everything: water, earth, sun, fields of oil, gas. We have all this in Africa, but Africa is still poor. It’s time we change our way of thinking. It’s time for Africans to take their destiny into their own hands. If not, others will take it,” is the empowering statement Thiam wishes to make, enveloped in his elegantly "expressive playing."

Released last Friday, "Africa Yontii" is Tidiane Thiam's third album on Sahel Sounds, which sees him "[team] up with hip-hop beat maker Ndiaye Moctar from studio M.N. Records to provide accompaniment, integrating unexpected elements such as field recordings and electronic sounds," to flank his tranquil, evocative guitar soundscapes. “What I should be singing (with words) I’m instead saying with my guitar,” he says. Hailing from Podor, a riverside fishing town in the northernmost part of Senegal (also home to Baaba Maal), Thiam learned guitar by "playing along to late-night radio broadcasts of Manding music" and "soon developed his own style, often reworking Pulaar folk themes into his compositions." It does not come as a surprise then, that his playing has an improvisational and concomitant undercurrent to it, unimposing yet no less enthralling.

On "Africa Yontii", Thiam "voices his concerns" for Africa in particular and the state of the world in general, but also emanates an indelible "love for his homeland and heritage." At the same time, he "reclaims the maligned 'world music' genre within a sonic space that has long been dominated by others telling the story," in a compelling appeal to the African continent to take back the reins. We strongly recommend you give this album a spin and delight in the mesmerising song of Tidiane Thiam's guitar.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom