Gnaoua, Cape Verdean music resonates with Assilah crowd

African rhythms with a touch of emotions and spirituality enchant the crowd in the northern city of Morocco.

ASSILAH – Gnaoua and Cape Verdean musicians played Wednesday some of their finest songs before the audience in Assilah in an evening full of pure entertainment and enchantment that earned them a standing ovation and huge applause.

Wada, a local Gnaoua band led Maestro Said Koyo, performed for the first time at the theatre of Prince Bandar Bin Sultan library as part of the activities of the 41st Assilah International Cultural Moussem.

“It was an indescribable feeling to play in front of Zailashis at this venue. We thanks Assilah Moussem for giving us such opportunity and promote the city’s talent,” Koyo told Middle East Online.

Wada, clad in traditional outfits with colours reflecting the Moroccan flag, played some songs from Gnaoui heritage, including “Lalla Aicha”.

Their energy made the entire music performance a unique experience as the crowd fervently interacted with the songs.

“Whenever I listen to the sinter, I have a strange feeling inside my heart. I think it’s the trans effect,” said Faiza.

Last February, the Inter-Governmental Commission for the Intangible Cultural Heritage, part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), registered the nomination of the “Gnaoua Art” file on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The decision will be taken at the 14th annual meeting of the Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in December in the Columbian capital of Bogota.

Cape Verdean music band Simentera, led by humble and talented artist-composer Mario Lucio, took part in the second part of the concert with a repertoire of love and hardship songs, including “Love pain”.

Mario Lucio playing the guitar
Simentera is Cape Verde's most successful music band

Lucio thanked Mohammed Benaissa, President of the Assilah Foundation, as well as all those who have contributed to the successful organising of the festival.

“Wherever I go, I would like to be surrounded by friends, musicians and children,” said Lucio.

He revolutionised the way Cape Verdean perceived the music after founding Simentera in 1992 composed of highly educated musicians.

He also paid tribute to Cape Verde population that went through a severe drought from 1932 to 1949 when the country was still under Portuguese colonialism with a song full of melody.

“With the chronic drought, Cape Verdeans were sent as slaves to work in São Tomé and Príncipe in Cacao plantations,” said Lucio, a former Culture Minister of Cape Verde.

Saad Guerraoui, Ph.D, is Deputy Editor-In-Chief of Middle East Online