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24 September 2014
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Kweku Mainoo on Brighton beach
Kweku Mainoo on Brighton beach

From Bear Road to Bamako

From this September, Brighton based Ghanaian musician Kweku Mainoo is a man on a mission. He is exchanging the streets of Brighton for the dusty desert roads of Bamako and the lush rainforests of West Africa on a 6 month epic quest.

Armed only with a mini disc and a lap top with all his worldly belongings in a rucksack, Kweku is going to amass music and audio from 6 different West African countries including Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Guinea Senegal and Mali.

Kweku’s quest  will take in thousands of miles including a stint in the Sahara, and he will be collecting sounds from local musicians to use in compiling a distinct musical album.

“It will be very exciting” Kweku explained. “Some of these musicians who I am recording will never have heard their music recorded before. Imagine hearing yourself play an instrument for the first time!”

Kweku with his kora
Kweku with his kora

Kweku is also  keen to focus on the authentic sounds of African music which he believes have been lost in modern times as Africans don’t tend to value their own culture and their own traditions.

“We are always losing out to the US for example in Ghana where I come from.” Kweku explained. “Young Ghanaians in particular place more value on imported music particularly US rap artists. They all want to be from the Bronx!”

"“We are always losing out to the US for example in Ghana where I come from.” "
Kweku

"I want to offer my services as a sound engineer to highlight the rich musical traditions and talent of people from West Africa. I am going to compile a DVD of the a history of the Kora (a stringed instrument made of a giant gourd) and the Djembe drum from Senegal."

With friends to visit on his way including the internationally renowned Malian musician, Toumani Diabate, a man dubbed the “royal prince of Kora”, Kweku is likely to produce some excellent music.

But he also has a few misgivings about his trip.

Kweku Mainoo with laptop
Kweku Mainoo with his Apple Kora

"My French is terrible and a lot of the countries I’m going to in West Africa are French speaking so I am bit worried about how I will manage for six months on my own…there’s always sign language though, or the universal language of music maybe!

I’m also going to miss lots of  things about Brighton. I love the mixture of people here and one of my favourite things is getting a flapjack and coffee from the meeting house café on the sea and sitting on the beach and watching the world go by….I won’t be able to do that in the Sahara!”

You can get updates on Kweku’s quest in his regular column.

last updated: 24/08/06
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