Clad in a blue kitenge, red canvas shoes, matching Mali-made leather bag, Mali legendary keyboardist, composer and performer Cheick-Tidiane Seck looked set for the stage when he touched down in Uganda on Monday.
No, he is here for another developmental cause- realigning Ugandan music to fit the continental demands, and he seemed ready for the task.
The 65-year old music ‘professor’, who has lectured music at Los Angeles University is in Kampala on a two-week invite by the organizers of Sounds of the Nile festival due November in Karuma.
He started working right away with a selected group of village based musicians who will thrill participants at the festival.
“I’m a pan Africanist who enjoys every type of African music. I have heard of Uganda and East African music and I want to try and bridge the wide gap with West African booming music,” said Cheick-Tidiane, who has written for and played with global icons like Fela Kuti, Mory Kanté, Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour, Hank Jones plus bands like Dee Dee Bridgewater, Damon Albarn (Gorillaz and Rocket Juice & the Moon.
Cheick-Tidiane intends to interact with established Ugandan artists – only if they intend to take their music beyond the boarder. In a lengthy interview with Daily Monitor at Roots Village Restaurant in Kakungulu-Wakiso, Cheick-Tidiane expressed his delight at the diversity of the group he is going to work with – after listening to their performance for only 30 minutes.
According to Flora Veuger, the force behind the source of the Nile festival, they expect the Malian musical genius to teach the 25-man group how to play all musical instruments, blend their musical and making profits out of their talent. He will come back thrice before the main event at Nogetec Heritage Gardens (Karuma) that is expected to attract international artistes. The full interview with Cheick-Tidiane will run in Daily Monitor soon.