Defined Musical Traditions Can Be Advantageous (

CAPE Verde musician Manuel Lopes Andrade, better known as Tcheka, shares a rare moment with South African guitarist Derek Gripper for a duet at last month’s Sauti za Busara music festival in Zanzibar. (Photo by Iman Mani)
AS is the case with other residents from Cape Verde, Manuel Lopes Andrade is better known by his nickname, Tcheka. Remember these are the two small, volcanic in origin, archipelagos that are about 400 miles off the western coast of Africa.
This young man, whose music presents what it means to be Creole in an age of globalisation, has always been known as Tcheka.
However, don’t be surprised to hear that Manuel Lopes Andrade is the name written in his passport. After all, this is the custom in this part of the world.
He told the ‘Daily News’ in a conversation at last month’s Sauti za Busara (SZB) music festival in Zanzibar that from birth everyone has a nickname, in Cape Verde, which is in daily use and stays with them throughout their life.
By the way, in his language Tcheka means ‘to see’ and when asked what he sees, he replied: “I see everything, I see what I am.”
He has always played the guitar except in certain moments of sadness. It’s not that he cannot play it to express his sadness, but that makes him cry at times.
So he refrains from doing this in front of an audience. They may not understand the causes behind the tears, which would lead to misconceptions being formed. Such a scenario he does not desire, therefore, the way out is not to play for the public when he is sad.
It’s a different ball game when he is by himself. After all, his singing has always been secondary to the instrument. The roots of his music are essentially from Cape Verde, which he interprets in his own way. Therefore, he cannot refer to it as being something completely new but is quite sure what he is doing.
“I talk about a little of everything in my music, society, social justice and everyday things. As a professional I play my music but have always been ready to collaborate with other musician.
What I really want to do is to continue with my projects within music with an objective to protect my Cape Verdean musical heritage and culture.
That is the message I’m pushing out,” Tcheka, who speaks very little English, explained through an interpreter. To date the name Tcheka and his music is known worldwide through live shows and recordings, now this list includes Tanzania, courtesy of the SZB festival.
And, he has recorded four albums, but he has a preference for live shows. The person who helped with the interpretation is none other than Johnny Fernandes, a Zimbabwean by birth, who grew-up in Mozambique and now lives between there and the United States of America (USA).
He runs a none profit project called Learn Africa, which has been running a music school in the Cape Verde islands for the last 15 years.
The attraction there he said is a multitude of talented people, who have a lack of resources, in terms of instruments and teachers.
“Over the years I’ve known many musicians from the Cape Verde Islands because of my interest and one of them is Tcheka. There’s no business involved in our relationship, which is totally based on friendship.
First of all I don’t like the title of manager, but that is what we use simply because people are used to that. It’s just friendship, so I help as much as I can through my network of friends and musicians,” Fernandes said.
“The word manager connotes a hierarchy and I don’t like this management thing. Everything I do in music is passion, there’s no money involved.
The only money involved is what goes out from my pockets, which is fine” he added, making sure his feelings were well understood. He recognises a talents and certain energy in Tcheka, which he has as a person.
Now this is not talking about him as a musician but simply a person. Fernandes can relate to this, which compels him to provide whatever assistance he can to share what he calls ‘unique’ music.
But how did they end up in Zanzibar? It turned out that through Learn Africa, Fernandes has had a musical relationship with the Dhow Countries Music Academy (DCMA) for a number of years. When making arrangements for the renowned South African guitarists Derek Gripper to conduct a workshop there, he thought it would be a good idea for Tcheka to join him in this endeavour.
Seeing the period of this workshop would fall during the time of the SZB festival, he contacted the organisers’ to ask for a slot for Tcheka.
One thing lead to another and during Tcheka’s first of two performances, on the opening night, the two musicians went through two songs together on stage, much to the audience’s delight. The innovative thing about Gripper is that he has been applying the techniques of classical guitar to creating a new repertoire on the instrument for African music.
He does this mostly with the use of music of the kora and great African composers. For a number of years now he has been touring worldwide sharing this with people wherever he goes.
“The initial idea was for I and Johnny to meet in Zanzibar at the same time, to talk about where we want to take the workshop.
The idea to jam with Tchela started while we all were in the south section of Zanzibar, at a place called Jambiani,” Gripper said the following morning after the opening night, a few hours before leaving the island. It is there that we first played together.
We had a good connection right from the beginning. Prior to the performance they were simply hopping the audience could enjoy the experience of two people who enjoy playing together and creating something beautiful.
On a more personal note, he found the experience interesting, bearing in mind each come from places that are quite defined for their musical traditions.
Source: Business