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Senegal’s Takeifa Five

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They came together in 2000 to form Takeifa Five out of what one of them, Jac, had started as a solo musician in 1993. Neither of their parents had anything to do with music nor did they ever try their hands on any musical instrument, except, perhaps that both had always been ardent music listeners. They told Africa Link at a concert held in Winterthur, Switzerland during 2017 Afro-Pfingsten festival.

“Our mother would always listen to music in the kitchen, while our father did likewise when at home or in his car,” they said. When their father realised they were interested in music he bought them a guitar, encouraged them and gave them a supportive with the rider that they MUST be serious, and play very well or else “I will break you” they said in unison laughing loudly. “He was a policeman, a disciplined and open minded father.” As a police officer he served in many areas of the country and that meant his family moved with him to wherever he was posted. This was an advantage for Jac as he performed in different towns with different groups after making his debut on the streets of Dakar. One by one his siblings joined him, until 2000 when the five came together to form the group and named it after the family, Keifa. “We realised since our childhood that music is a part of us, that it is in us, in our soul, so we didn’t think to further our education in any other area be it academic or vocational,” Jac and Imman, anothet member of the group, explained. They have played in a number of African countries including, The Gambia, Mali, and Cote d’Ivoire; and in Europe they have performed in France, Spain, Belgium Austria and Switzerland. To date they have three albums to their credit. Their maiden album, ‘Diaspora’ released in May 2008 speaks about migration to Europe for greener pastures, without the immigrants knowing what awaits them out there. This feeling may have prevailed on them to stay put and not relocate to the West. Their second album, ‘Get Free’ broke them into the world as it was soon after its release that they embarked on a trip to Europe, starting with Germany. Theirs is not the typical, traditional Senegalese ‘Mbalax’ rhythm played with local instruments. That said, they sometimes blend it to produce a mixture of Mbalax and criss cross rhythm that typifies their brand of music. ‘Get Free’ seeks to encourage people to be open minded in their endeavour, not to limit themselves to a thing, and to try other things, even other cultures. And the third is ‘Gas Siggiss which simply means ‘Who dares to win’ must persist and would eventually win. It is kind of a replica of Jimmy Cliff’s “You can get it if you really want’ but you must try, try again, you will succeed at last.” The Takeifa Five dare success! When asked how he fished them out, their German manager, Maurice Condé narrates the story of how searching through the internet in 2014 for such a group, he hit a jackpot as that was exactly what he was searching for. “I found their music was really nice. I contacted their manager. I am a booker agent, and made booking for three events for them in Germany. With their performance at those events I decided to work with them. Their music is great, and they are people with big hearts, as I am too. That’s how we came together.”