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“We need to be UNITED!” Exclusive interview with Born Africans’ Dr Shaka
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“We need to be UNITED!” Exclusive interview with Born Africans’ Dr Shaka

Famous reggae singer, Dr Shaka of the Born Africans took the time to talk to What’s On-Gambia in an exclusive interview about his career, Gambian music, Born Africans upcoming tour and more.

Read the interview below:

What’s On-Gambia: Tell us about your early days in the music scene?

Dr Shaka:I first got involved with music when I was at school – at St Augustine's high school. I’ve always been passionate about music, and developing my skills at school led me to get involved with musicians including the late Saul Bittaye and Alagie Leigh, Ebou Mayer and Habib Leigh of my first band, The Holy Family, and then setting up The Born Africans with Ranking Fire, Ras Pyton and Prince Biggy.

How was the Born Africans created?

From my background of music education at school, I was inspired by global music and I always believed that we could do it the same, if not better in The Gambia. I knew that Gambian music could be as good as any music from around the globe and I wanted to set up a band to spread the message of love, hope, unity and righteousness. I met Ranking Fire, who had the same kind of goal as me and we joined forces. Ras Pyton came on board and soon after Prince Biggy followed and we all united for the same objective under the name The Born Africans, because we are proud of our African heritage.

Dr Shaka

What were the group’s main highlights?

We performed at the National Youth Conference Festival, attended by His Excellency the President Dr Alh Yahya Ajj Jammeh. His Excellency requested us to repeat our greatest hit, Praises. Seeing the audience’s reaction, we realized how important that song was to the people and the major impact it had had on the Gambian music industry.

Another of great moment was when we performed at the Independence Stadium alongside Africa's champion, the late Lucky Dube of South Africa. The stadium was so full and there was so much heat on the dance floor that even the Chinese who built the stadium were looking worried about the impact of the crowd and its movement on their facilities. It was history in the making! Rest in peace Lucky Dube and may the Lord bless him into Jannah. Ameen. He was one of Africa's greatest singers of all time.

You are all based in Europe now. Why not The Gambia?

We are based in Europe to help open up avenues for Gambian artists to make their mark in the music industry in Europe and America.

Are you still a group?

Yes, of course, we are still a group. We have always been a group. We have never broken up. It's a brotherhood thing for life.

Tell us about your upcoming Gambian tour?

The upcoming tour this December comprises of seven shows including Willis Lamin on the 18th December, Sukuta Laparada on the 19th December, Gunjur Couba Lodge on the 20th December, Bakau Happy Corner on the 23rd December, Brikama Jokor on the 27th December, Sifoe on the 28th December and last, but not the least, the Open Mic Festival on the 26th December at the Independence Stadium in Bakau.

I would like to thank Wagan and Xmyls for the great work they are doing for The Gambia and the music industry.

What do you think about the music industry today compared to when you were first starting out?

Music these days is more available to people because of the internet – the influences, the way things are done, the way songs are released are all so different now compared to when I was younger. Also, artists used to be more united in their ambitions, compared to today where there is a lot of rat-race and competition involved. It needs to stop. It's not necessary, because there is enough room for everyone to flourish in their own way. We need to be united for a common goal if we truly want to develop the music industry to a higher level – the next level, hence our motto: progress, peace and prosperity.

Dr. Shaka

Do you listen to the reggae singers in The Gambia?

Yes, I do listen to Gambian reggae singers!

Who is your favorite?

I don't have one favorite reggae artist in The Gambia because there are so many great reggae singers in the country. I listen to them all and they all have something great to offer musically, but a few I really like are Benjahmin, Royal Messenger, Silky Criss, Splife, ENC, Lixen and many more.

Any solo album in the making?

Yes, I am working on a solo album at the moment. I have been recording with amazing Gambian producers like Malang Fatty of GSC records, Ras Askia of Hardcore production and Nova of Ghetto Boy Entertainment. I have also been recording with some great producers in Europe, in preparation for my next album. One of these producers is Calvin Jackson of Frenzy Music based in London, a good friend of a Gambian artist Omsla Baru.

What would you do if you were not a singer?

If I was not a singer, then I would have love to have been a medical doctor so I could help cure the sick through God's will, because health is life. I am hoping to heal people in a different way through music, hence the name Dr Shaka, a musical doctor.

What message do you want to send to your fans in The Gambia?

The message to our fans is: we are back! We never forgot about you and now is the time to take it to the next level.

Welcome back and good luck with the tour!




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