AFRICAN UPRISING – Gibraltar World Music Festival 2017

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Summer 2017 in Gibraltar is fast approaching and scheduled in the pipeline are a fair share of music festivals. The Gibraltar World Music Festival 2017, also referred to as GWMF, being one of the biggest ones yet to come to us and a great way to start the season. It is safe to say that the GWMF isn’t just a standard festival, but one that could change the world we live in today.

GWMF 2016 featured Obrigado! Celebrating cultures of Lusophone with music, workshops and a street party. The stages were outstanding. The music was beautiful. The loving community displayed a love towards one another that made us forget all the negativity in the world. Stop right there! That’s just about what you’ll read on every festival. Instead of providing you with a standard review, let me walk you through this. Join us on the journey of a whole new dimension of musical and cultural thrill.

Gibraltar Productions are the ones behind this phenomenal event; they introduce themselves as a team of diverse people in terms of origins and skill sets completely dedicated to the promotion of culture in Gibraltar. For the last six years, they have launched and been running the GWMF, Space 92 (exhibitions), Sephardic Stories and now BrightMed – world peace leaders are coming to Gibraltar to discuss world issues, starting with Convivencia. They explain; “Each year, GWMF tells the story of a region of the world or a specific style of music with the ambition of delivering a strong message of peace, universalism and spirituality”, what we know as convivencia. “We believe that these messages are the living examples of what the world needs to see and hear today, more than ever”.

The Gibraltar World Music Festival started in 2012, introducing artists from all over the world. This year, it will tell the story of artists from Africa and their continuous fight to exist as musicians despite the oppression from extremists.

Musicians in Mali have faced a fair share of attacks to their culture and the violence only continues to increase and become more frequent. Mali is blues, Mali is jazz. Extremists have used religion to justify their actions, to justify murder and to justify the destruction. Can you imagine a world without music? Music has become a part of our everyday life and it’s hard to imagine this ever being an issue. It doesn’t work that way in Mali. When Islamic hardliners took control in 2012, music was banned and destroyed due to the harshest interpretations of Sharia law in history. From radio stations, instruments being burnt and Mali’s musicians tortured and even killed, forcing them into hiding. Although rather than lay down their weapons, or shall we say, instruments – the musicians are fighting back!

What we can expect this year: starting with documentary screenings at Leisure Cinemas, followed by a street party in the Commonwealth Park with performances from Ethiopian and Malian artists, food and drink stalls, face painting for the kids and other attractions, inspirational talks for students, art exhibitions at various locations, peace conference at the University of Gibraltar, and finally, the concert at St. Michael’s Cave with performances from Bassekou Kouyaté, Gili Yalo and Yossi Fine/ BenAylon.

Programme of events

BrightMed Art Exhibition

8th May, Space 92 Irish Town – 10am-1pm and 2pm-6pm

In conjunction with the Gibraltar Fine Arts Association, an exhibition under the theme ‘Convivencia’ displays a piece of art created by the renowned local artist Christian Hook representing all the existing religions in Gibraltar. Everyone from Gibraltar and the Campo area is invited to submit a piece; there will be a prize of £500 for the “best work on show”.

From 2017, Gibraltar Productions introduces GWMFriends – a group for GWMF supporters. GWMFriends will have a chance to win attractive prizes, tickets, backstage passes, meet the artists and festival organizers. So don’t forget to like our page!

Bassekou Kouyate

BrightMed Film Festival

6th June, Leisure Cinemas

‘They Will Have To Kill Us First’ starts with musicians on the run, reveals rare footage of the extremists that sabotaged music, captures the torture and the life at the refugee camps. We will witness two female characters perform at the first public concert in Timbuktu since the music ban was imposed: Fadimata Walett Oumar and Khaira Arby. The stories of these artists are not sugar coated, be prepared for an emotional roller-coaster, heart break, inspiration and finally, frustration as we watch musicians make tough choices about their future and existence.

‘Mali Blues’ tells the story of four musicians from the West African country of Mali, who, through music and using this as their weapon, fight for a tolerant Islam and a country at peace.

Tickets are available at 92 Irish Town for free for both sessions: 17.00 ‘They will have to kill us first’ and 19.30 ‘Mali Blues’.

Yossi Fine

BrightMed Talks

7th of June, Ince’s Hall, 9am to 12pm

From CONVIVENCIA to CONCREANCIA

Talks given by highly qualified speakers aim to provide students with skills for the future. Together in Gibraltar we already live the ‘Convivencia’ (peaceful co-existence), the Talks at schools are meant to help children become aware of how privileged we are combined with making them aware of the other issues that are happening in the world. ‘Concreancia’ (creation together) means transformation. The key to transform the world starts through inner harmony and self-transformation.

Gibraltar Productions explains: “Gibraltar, special not only due to its superb location in between crossroads of different cultures, but also as a bridge of understanding of different cultures, different spiritual and religious practices, a bridge between the north and the south, the east and the west. Gibraltar is a daily example proving that living in a peaceful and harmonious environment is possible”.

Gili Yalo

Street Party AFREEKA

7th June, Commonwealth Park from 7pm

A chance to join a massive celebration, when local and international artists will give the best of themselves with an attractive artistic program. Food and drink provided by local companies at the boulevard Sir Herbert Miles Promenade. Save this date, no tickets needed for this part of the festival.

BrightMed International Conference

8th June, University of Gibraltar

From CONFERENCE to CONFLUENCE

For the first time in Gibraltar, renowned Peace Makers from India, UK, Belgium, Morocco and Iraq will deliver their wisdom, their advice to approach our world and provide a positive influence on their immediate environment.

Concert at St. Michael’s Cave

8th June, St. Michael’s Cave from 8pm

Unique shows from three phenomenal artists: Yossi Fine with music from the Blue Desert; Gili Yalo from Ethiopia; and the Malian ngoni player and griot Bassekou Kouyate.

Bassekou Kouyate

Bassekou Kouyaté – Only THE BEST ngoni player in the world tells us “The ngoni is a string instrument considered sacred for the griots of Mali. We have traces of griots playing music for our king’s way before BC.”

Yossi Fine & Ben Aylon

Yossi Fine – Whether this be as a producer, arranger or bassist, Yossi’s great talents have made him one of the biggest names in music industry for several different genres. He has worked with some of our favourite musicians, including David Bowie. His career went on for two decades and six continents includes seven gold and platinum CDs. Yossi has produced over 25 albums, having played the bass on many of the tracks. He tells us “Our approach is to always innovate something, using basic music and instruments, and re-create music that we feel has been here for long time, we just deliver that timeless vibe.”

Gili Yalo

Gili Yalo combines Ethiopian roots with soul, funk, groove, psychedelic and jazz music combined by Gili’s unique voice with lyrics in both English and Amharic which makes his music exceptional. Gili likes to tell us his story though music. During Operation Moses, a mass migration of Ethiopian Jews fled from their native land. Back in those days, the only way to do this was on foot to refugees’ camps in Sudan. Together with his family, Gili walked through the desert towards the Promised Land and sang to his beloved ones. It was the music that kept him and his family going through the exhaustion and storm.

He tells us: “I tend not to like to define my style but I was initially influenced by reggae music at a young age, and later on by RnB and soul, followed by funk, jazz and rock. Today, I am very inspired by traditional Ethiopian music. Through my music, I aim to enable the listener to understand who I am and where I’m from and to connect to the journey I have been through. The music that I make is a true reflection of who I am”.

Tickets will be available at 92 Irish Town at £35 (general public) and £30 (senior citizens and students), and at buytickets.gi.

words | Liana Penny Peklivanas