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Sample Track 1:
"Nasle Man - Abjeez" from Wan Fambul/One Family
Sample Track 2:
"Guttersnipe - Bhi Bhiman" from Wan Fambul/One Family
Sample Track 3:
"Gun Thing - Bajah + The Dry Eye Crew" from Wan Fambul/One Family
Layer 2
Album Review

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Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Album Review >>

Imagine living in the same town with someone who killed your father, burned down your house or hacked off your arm with a machete. Imagine having to walk past that person and look them in the eye on a regular basis.

That’s been happening in Sierra Leone since the war ended and people began rebuilding their fractured communities. Catalyst for Peace is working to ease that deep emotional trauma. The U.S.-based organization operates in Sierra Leone to help rebuild peace at a grassroots level. The organization helps bring communities together in a process of reconciliation and forgiveness. Victims and perpetrators of horrible crimes meet face-to-face at ceremonies that include truth-telling bonfires and traditional cleansing ceremonies. The program is called Fambul Tok, Krio for “family talk,” and it’s helping Sierra Leoneans heal themselves and rebuild their communities.

To help raise both awareness and funding for the program, Catalyst for Peace has released a compilation album featuring some musicians from Sierra Leone, as well as other artists from parts of the world who have been affected by conflict.

One of the featured artists is a rapper from Sierra Leone named Bajah. He fronts a hip-hop trio called Bajah + the Dry Eye Crew, and in Sierra Leone the group’s members are superstars. In their song “We Na Wan Fambul,” they sing about preventing election violence.

While corresponding with Bajah, he told me that he was lucky enough to escape the conflict by fleeing to Guinea on a boat. It was there that he started to rap and DJ. When he was younger he wasn’t very political, but the conflict made Bajah a much more political person. Now, he uses his music as a tool.

“Music can go where you can’t go,” he says. “Music is circulating and it can be in more than one place, and that’s the power that we’ve got as musicians. The power to preach positive music, to give voice to the voiceless.”

Watch Bajah’s video for the song “Grab N Clap,” used in movie Blood Diamond.

Other artists featured on the album include Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars (a group founded in a refugee camp), Bombino from Niger (who grew up during the Tuareg rebellion), Dengue Fever and Vieux Farka Toure.

One of my favourite songs on the album is by Bhi Bhiman, a musician from St Louis, Miss., whose parents immigrated from Sri Lanka – another country devastated by internal conflict. Bhiman was raised on American folk music and channels the vagabond spirit of Woody Guthrie or an early Bob Dylan. This video showcases the colourful lives of people living by the railway in India. 03/22/12 >> go there
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