Somi’s Four African Women

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@SomiMusic ‘s The Lagos Music Salon

One of the finest jazz singers on the continent has to be the Rwandan artist named Somi and her notable album is The Lagos Music Salon–perhaps the finest musical cartographic of Nigeria’s commercial capital. The album teems with dreams and history, and prostitutes and beggars by the corners, the knowing hum of the Atlantic and the easy laughter of the city’s nouveau riche and those pretending to their assumptions. And all this done with a delicacy and fragility and strength that defies category. Somi is Nigerian, she has to be for Lagos and this album are quintessential Nigeriana.

In an album of fine, fine songs, enjoy the poetry and power of Four African Women. It is influenced, of course, by the truly great Nina Simone’s 1966 classic Four Women. It tells the story of four archetypes of fraught feminity, and there is great care for the story of each circumstance.

 

Four African Women

@SomiMusic

 

My skin is black
My forehead long
My hair is woolly too
And my back is strong
Strong enough to carry on
After genocide and all my family gone
What do they call me?
My name is Gatsinzi

My skin is pink
It used to be black
My mirrors and my magazines
Made me cry
Discarded western bleaching creams
Eat away at my skin and self-esteem
What do they call me?
My name is beauty queen

My skin is black too
My eyes are shallow
My loins are cold
But my marriage is pure
You’d never know the horror in my skirt
Oh they told me it wouldn’t hurt
What do they call me?
… Mariatu

My skin is brown brown
My hair is fine
My hips still invite you in
And my mouth still tastes like wine
I hope this European trick
Will get me a visa, not get me sick
What do they call me?
… Ashawo

What do they call me?
Woman.

 

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