Salia Koroma Sings The Blues
Janeneh Bembe is our next Salia Koroma song.
A strider fly is a peculiar little creature, a miracle worker in its own right. It walks on water, it dives also; it is both a prey and a beast of prey.
It is this fly that Salia Koroma has chosen as a metaphor on which to anchor the bluesy composition Janeneh Bembe. And this curiosity of an insect is mentioned, as if by accident, for only four seconds, a minute into the song. Janeneh Bembe is a song of unspecified regrets and present trials. In his beleaguered present state, Salia calls on his own resources, uncharacteristically addressing himself in the third person, even deploying the word “brother-in-law” in its Mende ironic, almost derisive, usage:
O… call Koroma to come!
This war rims me about, so let me call Koroma to come.
War rims me about, so let me call Koroma to come.
Let me therefore call on “brother-in-law” to come.
In the second “verse,” intimations of what has been lost:
Love is sweet
But didn’t you know that love doesn’t last on this earth?
O my friend! Love is sweet but love doesn’t last on this earth
(…) What used to be is all decay now
If someone were to ask me, it’ll be in vain
For what used to be is all decay now.
And finally the title of the song makes its brief appearance:
Eh, alas, such indeed was the world then!
Whirling water strider, let me scream out for Koroma
Whirling water strider, such then was the world!
This is how the singer sees himself, from a man lamenting what fate has dealt him to the man who will defy nature to survive in a hostile environment.