The review on Djolo translated from french: “With the Daraa Tribes, a Moroccan group not to be confused with its Senegalese homophone the Daara J Family , we go deep into the Moroccan south by following the course of the Wadi Daraa, or Draa, at the same time as it dissolves in our ears. the rich, very rich cultural silt which fertilizes the valley it crosses. In a great Saharan merger, the group Daraa Tribes unveils its latest track “Lakbayl” which can be translated as… tribes… this is a very tribal affair!
And it is the case to say it, with this new song, the Moroccan group wants to celebrate the diversity of the Draa valley, and to pay homage to all the tribes, all the ethnic groups, all the populations who inhabit the south of this valley. mythical of Morocco, and even, beyond that, they also greet with this song the musical blood which flows in their veins, and the blood, quite simply, the hemoglobin if you prefer, let’s say even the DNA in the strict sense , members of the group who each represent one of the peoples of this valley.
Thus the music and the soul of this song, “Lakbayl”, is crossed by the emotion and the legacy of Aarib, nomads and distant heirs of the first waves of settlements from the Arab world, who, in the evening, the camp once installed, have their musical style called chamra. There are also the Ragaga, master of the oasis of Ktawa who make the swords dance to the sound of Akalal and Skal. Of course, one cannot miss the Amazighs, Berber population which occupies North Africa since… it is in the north of Africa! The Kaaba, an important mixed-race population of the Draa valley, who, with their dance, the rokba, imitate the steps of warrior horses. And, to finish, there is also, and it is surely the people and the Moroccan music which knew how to make itself known the most abroad, the gnawa, descendants of sub-Saharan slaves.
So, now set off to discover the “Lakbayl”, the Daraa Tribes, with their dances, their music and their singularities!“
Daraa Tribes – “Lakbayl”
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A celebration of the cultural and ethnic diversity of the Southern Daraa Valley in southeastern Morocco, and an invitation to those around the world to witness this diversity.
The title reflects a continuation of Daraa Tribes’ efforts to shine a spotlight on the heritages from which each band member originates:
Aarib: The Aarib people from southeastern Morocco also reside in Saharan corners of Algeria, Mali, and Mauritania, originating from the Arab world centuries ago. They practice several music traditions, of which Chamra is highlighted in the music video for this single. The Aarib people are historically nomadic, and the Chamra music tradition is usually practiced at sunset and at night as a band of nomads would find a spot to sleep and settle in for the night.
Ragaga: The Regaga tribe are believed to have migrated westward across the Sahara more than a millenia ago, settling in the lush oasis of Ktawa. Before colonization, their village, also named Ragaga, was the center of commercial and public life in the region for centuries. They perform several traditional music styles, of which Akalal and Skal are featured in the music video.
Amazigh: The Amazigh people are indigenous to Saharan North Africa and are believed to have been living in the region for thousands of years. They are historically nomadic people who often settle near mountainous areas across the desert, and the traditional Ahidous style of music performed in the Southern Draa Valley often recalls the Amazigh people’s relationship with nature.
Kaaba: The Kaaba tribe is a particular ethnic group that belongs to the larger Daraoua people, who are mixed ethnicities which migrated to the Daraa Valley region from other parts of the Sahara and other corners of Africa over the course of several centuries. Their musical style Rokba means ‘Knee’, and reflects the movement of a horse during warfare centuries ago. The Kaaba and Daraoua people are in large part responsible for having maintained the lush oases spread throughout the Daraa River Valley.
Gnawa: The Gnawa people historically were brought into Morocco as slaves from Mali and even further eastward across the Sahara from Sudan. They practice several traditional music styles, of which Ganga is practiced in the Southern Daraa Valley, and is a direct reflection of the condition of slavery. The metal hand-held percussion instruments Karakash reflect binding chains in both imagery and sound, and their lyrics are both spiritual and have been sung for centuries during the time of slavery. Their ownership over their cultural heritage is a testament to the will of the Gnawa people to overcome suffering and become a dominant cultural force across Morocco.
The song ‘Lakbayl’, and the accompanying music video, not only represents this diversity, but also the general attitude of peace, tolerance, and social cohesion so integral to life in the Southern Daraa Valley of Morocco. Tribes may have different languages, histories, clothes, songs, dances, villages, and other customs, but all are respected and celebrated as vibrant aspects of local society. This is Daraa Tribes message to the world: to acknowledge, respect, and celebrate cultural and ethnic diversity, rather than use these identities to divide, as is the case in so many corners of the world.
Akinola Sennon started attending the Joseph School of the Arts in 1991, from age seven, learning to play the cuatro and studying the theory of music. He then moved on to playing two other instruments, the guitar and the piano at the said music school in Siparia, under the tutelage of Mr. Ashford Joseph. By age ten, Akinola was arranging musical compositions for his sibling to perform at his school concerts and recitals, since they all attended the same school.
Akinola Sennon started playing the steelpan in Standard Three with Mr Roland ‘Moose’ Joseph and at that point, he fell deeply in love with the instrument. During this time, he also played the guitar with the school and church choir. Miss Valdez, the school choir Mistress, was quite a huge influence in developing his musical ability. Mr Joseph nurtured his talent during that early period by taking him to many competitions and exposing us to the steelpan fraternity. Akinola Sennon remembers Mr Roland ‘Moose’ Joseph taking him to Pantrinbago’s Annual General Meetings and introducing him to various persons.
Akinola Sennon joined Siparia Deltones in 1996 for the Panorama season and also the Stage Side. It was there that he met Mr Carlton ‘Zanda’ Alexander. Akinola vividly remembers him asking him one day, “Young man, do you know your scales?” to which Akinola Sennon said “Yes.” He then instructed him, “Play me this scale,” which Akinola did. He then replied, “Ok, well do you know your chord scales?” Akinola again answered, “Yes.”He instructed, “Well play me this chord scale.” Akinola played the scale and he then requested him to play him the same chord scale from the 2nd inversion and that was where the trouble started. That was the beginning of a 17 year old relationship. Akinola has been his understudy since then.
Akinola Sennon was inducted as a member of the Coal Pot band which was led by Mr. Zanda. This band was basically a Kaiso/Jazz fusion ensemble with horns, vocals, piano, bass guitar and steelpan. He performed extensively at all the leading jazz and fusion shows throughout the nation, including Tobago Jazz Festival, San Fernando Jazz Festival, Sanch Apri Carnival, Siparia Jazz Festival, Point Jazz Festivaland many more. At age 18, he also began playing with Clive Alexander, Carlton’s older brother. This was also quite an experience and has significantly contributed to his overall development, especially his weekly performances at the Satchmo’s Jazz club on Ariapita Avenue for a number of months.
In 2003, Akinola Sennon became the captain of Siparia Deltones’ junior band and later went on to become the captain of the senior band. He has worked with the National Steel Symphony Orchestra for one year and the Pan in the Classroom Unit. Akinola Sennon has taught at Forest Reserve Anglican School, Fyzabad Presbyterian School, Iere High school, Palo Seco Government School and Trinidad Renaissance Preparatory School.
In 2009, Akinola played the role of the musical director for steel pan promotion in Canada, where, Siparia Deltones and I, did workshops throughout the country.
As an Arranger, he has composed for the Southern Marines Steel band Foundation placing 3rdin the Small Band Category of the Panorama competition of 2010. He won the Primary School category of the Sanfest Competition for four years in a row from 2010; three times with Forest Reserve Anglican School and one year with Trinidad Renaissance Preparatory School of which he is their musical director. Akinola Sennon also won the Pan for Blue Competition with Forest Reserve Anglican School in 2013.
He is presently the executive director and musical director of Siparia Deltones, where his intention is to have this instrument evolved globally. The designer of the band’s syllabus and course structure is what he is. Together with his band, Siparia Deltones, in 2013, they recorded an album with Hugh Masekela for which Akinola Sennon played the role of Project Coordinator and steelpan soloist.
Earlier this year, he travelled to the Netherlands to participate in the Amsterdams Conservatorium Van Summer Jazz Workshop where he is the first pan player to be accepted to be part of the prestige workshop. After that experience in the Netherlands, Akinola Sennon made a decision that the world should hear his voice more loudly via his pan. For whilst there he usually was approached and asked about his upcoming tours and albums due to students being overwhelmed by his playing ability. Akinola made the decision to do his first album, a project of the Deltones Institute of Steel Drums and music in collaboration with Berklee College, New England conservatory and Manhattan School of music students. Then he journeyed to the States where he auditioned students for the project.
This project was called Cousoumeh which received a record label contract from leading label Ropeadope Records. He also developed the concept of the album into a festival called the Cousoumeh festival. Both the album and the festival have been very successful thus far.
Akinola Sennon continues to work in the area of steelpan development, arranging and music education.
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