Orchestre Super Borgou



Orchestra Super Borgou from Parakou was the most famous band in northern Benin during the 70s. Parakou is the largest city in eastern Benin and capital of the Borgou Department. Super Borgou recorded at least four EP's on Albarika Store label. This number 219 has apparently been recorded in 1973-74 since title "Dahomey Libéré" si already praising the Dahomey revolution of 1972. Ce record presents two very nice soukous influense titles. The interview with the Super Borgou's lead guitar Moussa Mama, who composed "Dahomey Libéré", made by Samy Ben Redjab tells perfectly the history of the band (Itw taken from the album Analog Africa N°3: "African Scream Contest):

L'orchestre Super Borgou de Parakou était le plus fameux groupe du nord du Bénindurant les années 70s. Parakou est la plus grande ville de l'Est du Bénin et la capitale du département du Borgou. Super Borgou a enregistré au moins quatre 45 tours sur le label Albarika. Ce numéro 219 été apparemment enregistré en 1973-74 puisque le titre "Dahomey Libéré" fait déjà l'éloge de la révolution Dahoméenne de 1972. Le disque présente deux jolis titres d'influense soukous. L'interview du guitariste du Super Borgou, Mama Moussa, qui a composé "Dahomey Libéré",  réalisée par Samy Ben Redjab illustre parfaitement l'histoire du groupe (Itw tirée de l'album Analog Africa N°3: "African Scream Contest):

I was born in 1947; I don’t know the exact date but it was on a Friday, which is why people know me as Moussa “Djima” (Djima is Arabic for Friday). I grew up just watching all those musical things happening around me and I could literally feel music entering my soul. In my early teens, electric guitars started to appear in Parakou, especially during festivities: weddings, circumcision rituals, etc. The first guitarist to perform at our house was Waidy, my brother discovered him in Togo. He would entertain the folks for the whole period of Ramadan. Waidy would sleep end eat at our house, end I watched him practice every day. Then we found another guitarist in Ouidah named Aaron; he was cheaper. We did that for few years until around ’62-63. Throughout those years I never took lessons; I just watched those guys play and tried to copy them on a guitar I built using fishing line and some other tools. In ’63 for some reason we didn’t manage to find a musician to entertain the town, and Ramadan was approaching rapidly. The elders were panicking. I told them not to worry – I would play. They wondered, “When did you learn to play?”, “I will play!” I replied. On the first evening of Ramadan it happened. I performed using just two strings. The next morning people came to see my father to ask him if I was a genius or possessed by evil spirits. Soon youngsters started knocking on my door asking for guitar lessons. They would stay here for two, sometimes three months. We would discuss the price for accommodation, food and beverage. Most of my students used to pay with rice or meat; the ones who had money would pay 50.000 CFA for one month and 100.000 CFA for three months. That’s how I used to earn my living. My first band at that time was named Alafia Jazz. We covered Rumba songs by Franco – that’s where I got the artist name Mama Franco from. I changed the name of the band to OK Jazz later in ’64. A few years later we started to develop our own musical identity based on traditional rhythms and songs from the region. At some point I started thinking, We are the best band from northern Benin singing in Dindi and Bareba, but we have a Congolese name – not good! I decided to choose a name that would show our origins, so we renamed the band Super Borgou de Parakou. Ousman Amoussa handled backing vocal and gon, Sidi Alassane was on the toumba and kit drum, Sidi Seidou played traditional percussions, Soulaima Karim sang lead, Mama Biogado played the bass, Menou Roch was our rhythm guitarist and I was on lead guitar and vocals. We started touring Niger in ’69. We found a job at a bar called Congolaise; the owner was a former Guinena military man who disagreed with the politics of Sékou Touré and had fled the country with his Vietnamenese wife. They were a very sweet couple, so we dedicated this song to them. All the money we managed to earn working in Niamey was invested into better equipment, amps, guitars and other stuff. One day I remember entering a music shop to buy a flute back in ’71 when I heard someone playing an instrument I had never even seen before. The sound was absolutely gorgeous. I asked the seller what kind of instrument that is, to which he replied, “It’s an organ“. I asked for the price. He told me 140.000 CFA. We had saved 300.000 CFA, so I bought that organ on the spot. That was on a Monday; by Saturday I played the whole set using it. It took me a day or two to understand it, but it wasn’t really a problem. On the third or so day I used our new acquisition to compose a hugely successful Afrobeat song called Da Doga Bouyo Inin Be. The first musical competition we did was in ’72 in Cotonou At that time the government would choose one band from each state. Poly-Rythmo, Echos du Zou and many others were all competing. We won and consequently were invited to the International Music Festival in Berlin, Germany.

6 comments:

dial africa said...

I prefer the B-side.
Everytime you give us another record from Benin I ask myself why neither Wonfgang Bender's book "Sweet Mother" not the first Rough Guide nor any other book I read on African music (until 200x)mentioned for Dahomey/Benin anything further than traditional music and Angelique Kidjo.

Analog Africa said...

Salut Oro, j´ai rien contre qu´on utilise une de mes interviews, pour un blog, par contre j´aurai aimé qu´on me le fasse savoir, simplement par respect.
Je pense que ceci devrait etre la moindre des chose. J´aurai aussi apprecie que tu fasses savoir ou se trouve cette interview et le nom du label. De plus tu offres des telechargements gratuit de titres sortie sur mon label et la je comprend plus trop. Pour quelqu´un qui semble aimer la musique du Benin et qui devrait etre un des tout premiers a estimer mon travaille tu assures pas vraiment. C´est deja tres difficle par contre si les gens qui devrait nous proteger se mettent a nous mettre des batons dans les roues on s´en sortira plus. Food for thoughts

Oro said...

Bonjour Samy (Analog Afica), j'ai bien pris acte du message. Mon erreur est réparée. Peux-tu me donner la liste exacte des morceaux incriminés afin que je suprime leurs liens. Mille excuses.

Analog Africa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Analog Africa said...

Oro merci pour ton message, c´est gentille de ta part, je sais que tu as le coeur au bon endroit. Ne suprime pas les liens. Je les avaient deja vue de cela quelques mois et j´ai pas trouver ceci trop grave, j´estime que tu es un ambassadeur de la music Beninoise et que tu fais passer le message. Par contre aujourd´hui en voyant tout mon text ca m´a fait un truc. Tu deals avec des substances qui me sont tres chers :)
A bientot et continue!!

reservatory said...

Belated thanks.