Music, like love and friendship, has no boundaries, and good music is as good as the ear and the mind that listens to it and consumes it.
Ireland might seem as an unlikely place for an African music group to settle there and feel at home. But for the community of Galway, especially for music fans, any musician is welcome there as long as his or her cosmopolitan music is good enough to soothe their ears and minds.
This is the message well understood by a group of eight DRC exiles who settled in Galway and created a band called The Roots of Africa. The band operates under the label of Galway Congolese Association. The group spokesperson Wally Nkikita, who lived for 15 years in Johannesburg, South Africa, spoke exclusively to Moon of the South.
“We play pure African music, generated from the original rhythms and sounds of our continent, and we do this to promote African culture in Ireland,” Nkikita says,
It is only about two years since the project came into existence, but Nkikita says all the members were surprised that success and glory came knocking on their door so fast. “That,” he says, “has motivated us to work harder and aim higher, and our goal right now is to tour Europe to market our project and try to possibly win a couple of awards.”
Roots Africa has so far recorded only one song, Biwela wela, under the label of Sean Agus Nua. The album in which the song is listed, is a project jointly undertaken by Sonke Community Choir, Roots of Africa and some European musicians.
The band does perform in various cities across Ireland, and their latest performance at the Galway Volvo Race has left thousands of fans screaming for more. “White people like African music too much, that’s why they always come in numbers to support us whenever we play,” he says.
Recession in Europe has affected the group in many ways, Nkikita admits, but he says Roots of Africa musicians are very grateful for the valuable support of Sean agus Nua.
Sean Agus Nua is a multiculturalism project established in early 2004. The project supports and promotes ethnic cultures and interculturalism. Its founders say its primary aims were to create a lasting documentation of Galway at a hugely important period in its history, on entering and adapting to its new cosmopolitan era.
*Galway is located in the West Region of Ireland in the province of Connacht, and it is about 177.3 km from the capital city Dublin.