Saturday, May 02, 2009

Sidi Goma -- The Black Sidis of Gujarat

Just back from a great performance of Sidi Goma -- The Black Sidis of Gujarat, at the Somerville Theatre. From the program notes we learn that this is a tribal Sufi community of East African origin which went to India eight centuries ago and made Gujurat their home. "They carried with them their exceptionally rich musical tradition and kept it alive and flourishing through the generations, unknown to the rest of the world. Their native African music styles, melodic and rhythmic structures, lyrics and musical instruments have mingled with local influences to form this unique symbolic representation of African-Indian identity."

The program had two sections, the first being an overview of ritual calls to prayer. The second half was a staged ritual performance of a damal. "While the music gets more rapid and excited, the dances unfold with constantly evolving solo and group acts of satirical imitations of animals and other creature, culminating in a coconut-breaking feat." You can see that excerpt below (and a longer one on my Facebook page.)

The performance was offered by World Music/CRASHart, whose Executive Director is Maure Aronson, seen here with his son Jesse.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I ran into the Sidi Goma troupe yesterday; they were leaving an Indian restaurant just as I was on my way out from a nearby Peruvian one in Somerville. It was out of place to see a really large group of African people coming out of an Indian restaurant, so I’d done a double take and realized who they were. I started to talk to them in English about how much I’d enjoyed the show, then realized they couldn’t understand much of it. It took me a couple of minutes of puzzling to figure out how to communicate with them, then I realized I could just speak with them in Gujrati!!:)

We laughed about their visa troubles (for the benefit of those who were not at the show, the performers, from a small village in Gujarat, had related how they had trouble getting visas for the full troupe at the Mumbai embassy, until Senator Kerry's office got involved) and talked about all of the places they are going to tour next. We joked about how our families had migrated in opposite directions. I told them I hoped they would come to Boston again, and then bade them goodbye with a khudha hafiz and salaam (muslim greetings). They were completely surprised and pleased. I really like them – so genuine and warm.