A Composer for Every Country: Liberia
Liberia, like Sierra Leone, is a country of two populations - the native indigenous tribes, and people descended from freed slaves who came to the area during the 19th century. In this case, the freedmen were settlers from the American Colonization Society. Founded by Robert Finley, the basic idea was to encourage free African-Americans to go to Africa. If your reaction is "That sounds dumb and is probably racist," well... That was kind of the reaction of just about everybody else at the time. Opposed by both African Americans, who had lived in the US for generations and didn't want to leave, and abolitionists, who quickly learned that the Society's motives had more to do with preempting slave riots than finding a workable solution to the end of slavery. In the words of Gerrit Smith, "This Colonization Society had, by an invisible process, half conscious, half unconscious, been transformed into a serviceable organ and member of the Slave Power."
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A Composer for Every Country: Sierra Leone
Continuing south down the West African coast from Guinea is Sierra Leone. Like Guinea, Sierra Leone is quite ethnically diverse, with sixteen different groups. The Temne and the Mende people form the largest percent of the population, each being about a third of the total. One ethnic group stands out compared to Guinea: the Krio. This group of people is the result of Sierra Leone's curious history as a British protectorate, and to understand where they come from we have to go back to the American Revolution.
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A Composer for Every Country: Guinea-Bissau
Continuing along the coast, south of Senegal, is Guinea-Bissau. From Morocco down to Senegal, colonial French influence was very strong, but Guinea-Bissau was colonized by the Portuguese in the mid- to late-15th century in an attempt to control the gold trade, largely controlled by Morocco at the time. Before the Europeans arrived, Guinea-Bissau was part of the kingdom of Kaabu, part of the larger Mali Empire.
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A Composer for Every Country: Guinea
Guinea stands separate from Guinea-Bissau because Guinea was colonized by the French, while Guinea-Bissau was colonized by the Portuguese. Something I learned from reading about Guinea which hadn't popped up yet is the collapse of the French Fourth Republic in 1958. The founding of the 5th Republic saw Charles de Gaulle (of World War II fame) basically told the West African colonies: stay with us, or else. Guinea, under the leadership of Ahmed Sékou Touré, voted for independence by referendum and found out the "or else" part of the ultimatum.
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Canon in the Smelting Pot: Takemitsu Toru
I was rewatching My Neighbor Totoro for the umpteenth time recently. My SO had requested to see it, and that's not a request you just turn down. Because Totoro. Seriously, have you seen it? It's so cute!
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