12/8 and Voodoo

Another cracking day in Lagos. A relaxed lead up to rehearsal as the previous days travel caught up on us. But come late afternoon it was time to play drums.

Eko Samba rehearsals are really organic – they officially start at 4.30 and there’s a small number there to begin with. They start playing immediately and then as more and more of the band arrive, they shuffle in to formation and play a rollicking set of most of their repertoire. Their music really rocks and the repertoire is so dynamic.

For the last hour of rehearsal, I taught the band an arrangement; classic Liam stuff of 12/8 to double time 4/4 and back again, and I hadn’t lead a band for months so I was really nervous. The band are so welcoming and took absolutely no time whatsoever to play a stonking rendition of the tune. They learn so quickly and it was great to lead a band again. We’re missing rehearsal tomorrow but if we can run through it again on Monday, hopefully we can get a video. We got some dinner in the market, buzzing, and I was berated by Victory, who was playing dobra for the afternoon, for not going to church. I cheekily said to her that music was my religion and she said “yes but God invented music!!”, which is a fair point if you believe in it.

Ojo and I watched Barca smash Man City in the local bar and Ojo played a selection of gorgeous old Highlife through the speakers. One tune was by Orlando Owoh, who was from Osogbo and was well in to his Voodoo and wore rings all over his fingers. These rings were very powerful and – apparently – when you struck someone with them, they’d die instantly. Ojo said that somebody spoke out of turn to Owoh, he said “are you talking to me?”, tried to hit them round the chops with his rings but missed and hit himself. He died inmediately, obviously.

Ojo and I spoke about the history of West African traditions, specifically Candomble and the worship of the 12 deities, that is in danger of being lost in West Africa. He said people travel to Nigeria knowing much more about it all than the locals, because their priority a lot of the time is simply to get by. There’s a Candomble Masquerade House (called a Terreiro in Brasil) on Ibasa and I’ve enquired if I can go and see it. The answer was that I’d need to be initiated in to the house, with a ceremony costing N18,000 (about £40), in order to be allowed in. That’s something to mull over. Maybe it will appease Victory and her enquiries.

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