was when blue collar and white collar workers were on different planets. Now an
educated man may be running a hands-on business that requires him to work the
fields. Generating an agricultural based industry is one example of this. Here
in the Gambia, agricultural development is on the up, and there is a direct link
to cultural expression.
All of the ceremonies and celebrations down the centuries in villages everywhere were about harvest, initiation, coming of age, marriage, births and death. Music and dance in particular were formats that depended heavily on the input of village life to develop these themes into performance. Subject matter would then become social comment and thus the role of art turns full circle and begins to influence village life and each new generation. And nobody works harder than a performance artist. The Fula circus playing regularly at functions across Gambia is testament to this! The stilt-walkers and drummers who toil under a hot sun! There was indeed a very famous radio programme on the BBC in the 1950s called music while you work, and singing in the work place was always encouraged to produce harmony.
It is only a leap of faith to look at ways in which industrial growth can produce industrious art! How do we really excite the men and women who we need to generate agrinomics? That is..the ways in which financial planning can be used to create jobs that lead to the creation of a long-term agricultural base. And not only that, but a way of life that gives people hope that they may see in their own lifetime a generation that grows up with schools, hospitals and a future for the children as we were fortunate enough to experience in 20th century Europe. Gambias vision 2020 is just such a model. So how, to paraphrase John Fitgerald Kennedy, can I do something for my country instead of asking what it can do for me? Culturally I can play a part. I work with Tata Dinding; now there is a man who understands that his role is to take the working people on a journey that enriches the soul and makes the working environment a happier place. The Beatles played just such a role in the 1960/70s in Europe and U.S.A.
But I think that, at the end of the day, the real cultural impact will be made through changes in the workplace! I am presently working for a financial institution. We are currently looking at ways to improve the financial lot of the working people. These are our potential customers and we must be pro-active in securing their future and our market share. So we have approached companies and government agencies offering to provide managed salary accounts. This leads to a long term financial strategy for every household as happened after the second world war in Europe. People could borrow money to buy homes and develop their future. Banks and financial institutions developed at a very fast pace and peoples habits changed. D ya do terms? resounded around the streets of Liverpool as we looked for H.P. (Hire Purchase credit). The Consumer Credit act followed in 1971 to ensure a modicum of fair play for the borrower.
Marketing strategists took over in the U.S.A. in the mid-60s and individualisation of brands of clothing, cars, house dcor and habits was the norm with 2 years. Culture became market driven. Gambia is on the verge of such an enormous growth period after 10 years of serious infra-structural input. Supposing we strengthened this by factoring in some cross-cultural synergistic industrious art! Supposing the Army offered placements and degrees in Agrinomics. Soldiers who leave the service with great discipline, experience and man-management skills could take -up placements within the divisions as agricultural development officers. Our company as well as many others would be only too happy to give planning support and financial guidance. Working with the likes of the women of Bakau and Sukuta Horticulture, this would empower agricultural development at grass roots level countrywide. With present government initiatives to generate potato growth, canning factories and transport improvements underway, this country would be on the way to being self-supportive and productive.
There would of course then be a direct effect culturally. I was genuinely amazed to find that young people generally dont often go out on a Friday night. After a hard week in agricultural development, I am sure that there would be a marked upturn in the economies of entertainment and theatre. The reliance on tourism would cease and Gambian culture would be well and truly on the TFI Friday list. Were out tonight!
Tata Dinding; Art Jobarte as I call him! I just hope he sticks around because
they are starting to wake up to his gifts in Europe. One old jazz bass player I
studied with worked with Art Tatum. While everybody was joshing for his time.
Hiya Art!. How ya doin Art!. my tutor respectfully always called
him Mr Tatum. Art Tatum, the great legendary piano player never ever
forgot this and his gifts remain like those of Tata, a cultural phenomenon!
And now he would say on the Bass tonightthe only man who calls me Mr.Tatum
So with respect and the right input, we can achieve anything we set out to. Strategies and planning! Rocket science it aint!
And Art Jobarte; I think we need to open that music school in Brikama as fast as possible. Root vegetables! Roots music and Routes to Georgetown. Art is a man with a Kora!
(Art Tata Dindin Jobarte, Salam Band, Siffai Jobarte, Johnny Toubab and a host of guests are live at Lama Lama in Bakau every Saturday for the next 8 weeks.)