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A musical representation of Suns of Independence

I discovered this song by Baaba Maal last year at Thanksgiving. My uncle played it for me because he had recently become a Spotify fanatic, and had stumbled upon the music of Baaba Maal and Youssou N’Dour. After reading Sons of Independence I remembered that the Malinke tribe is from the same region of West Africa as are Baaba Maal and Youssou N’Dour. After discovering this I looked into their music and tried to find the song my uncle had shared with me almost a year ago. When I found Fulani Rock, I realized that it had a melody that mirrored my interpretation of the plot in Suns of Independence. Fulani Rock is a song that is focused on the Fulani tribe, a nomadic tribe in West Africa. Although not the same as the Malinke tribe, the tribe present in Sons of Independence, the Malinke tribe also practices Islam. After listening to the song a few times, I felt that it was an interesting way of interpreting the plot and the conflict between the growing nationalist sentiment in the region and its conflict with traditional tribal practices and religious culture. The background music from the outset suggest tension, and the drum beating made me envision a scene with opposing parties on different sides. The protagonist, Fama, is portrayed through the singer, who attempts to make sense of the situation in the background. Although I do not understand the language in which the song was composed, my interpretation of the tones, rhythm, volume, and speed of the music, as well as the instrumental pictures served to help me connect this song to the conflict between religion and government in The Suns of Independence. The part of of the song in which Baaba Maal is singing by himself aligned with his isolation when his role as tribe leader is taken away. Overall, when listening to this piece of music, I couldn’t help but envision tribal conflicts as they pertained to Fama’s story in The Suns of Independence.

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