Arts TV presents The Crane Operator and A Book Dealer Ethiopian. In the West African Manding language, Fonko means ”the thing”. In Wolof, it means ”to respect” something. Fonko came about as a result of needing to balance the image of the continent of Africa, its history and people, where it is heading and what questions it is facing.
It is also, however, about adding context to the great complexities that come with colonial heritage. We met at a hotel in Ethiopia, the two of us, during a music festival. Immersed in new music from all over the continent, but also frustrated about the lack of recognition for much of it in the rest of the world, where the mention of Africa and African culture still very much produces images of poverty and traditional music.
After talking about books, magazines and radio shows, we decided to make a television series. At first, in our minds, it was to be strictly a music series, one about the great musical revolution of our time as we saw it. Soon, however, we knew it was to become something else, or perhaps something more. The music couldn’t be separated from the social upheaval in these often fast developing countries, and from what had happened when they liberated themselves from the colonial oppression.
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