Salia Koroma In Conversation II (Talking “Mende Gendei”)
There’s a piece in the oeuvre of every artist that is at once a blessing and a curse: a song, a poem, a novel, a painting that somehow manages to be everyone’s favourite. This is the work to which they’re constantly brought back, the one work they’re required, in spite of themselves, to sing, to recite, to read, to comment on, to explicate, to contemplate, every single time. And being regarded as Master and Creator, the artist knows (or senses, at the very least) that the request to revisit “everyone’s favourite” comes with an implied challenge to their creativity. So that at the heart of every request is the need on the part of the artist to defend their work. For Salia Koroma, that work was Mende Gendei.
In the video I’m posting Salia is being asked to perform the long (full?) version of the song. (Earlier in the interview he’d been asked to play the same song and he had obliged with his usual truncated version. And one thing is for sure: you’ll feel cheated until you’ve heard the longer version of Mende Gendei with its litany of Paramount Chiefs that have passed on. It could be that everyone likes to be reminded that vanity is vanity.) Here (for the record), he defends the length of his career and the integrity of his creativity.