Tiken Jah: "All Reggae Is a Cry for Equality, Whether From Jamaica, America, or Africa"
A non-Rastafarian reggae musician who grew up a practicing Muslim, Tiken Jah Fakoly is a native of Africa's Ivory Coast who draws most of his material and inspiration from his home continent.
His concern for the well being of his people has gotten him in trouble and even exiled for a time from the Ivory Coast. But this weekend, Tiken Jah will surely be welcomed in South Florida, visiting for a first-ever local performance as part of Rockers Movement's Miami Reggae Festival 2013.
We here at Crossfade called Fakoly on their international line during his break from a recording session in France. And while he was concerned that his accent was too strong and his knowledge of English too weak, there was no need to worry. His vocabulary and motivations were very easy to understand.
Crossfade: Can you explain how growing up in the Ivory Coast has affected your music?
Tiken Jah Fakoly: I talk about not just the Ivory Coast in my music, I talk about Africa.
Africa is not the place they show on TV all the time. People don't know about Africa, when they talk about it, they talk about war. I think it's better to talk about how it is growing, how it is building a democratic process. But people have another image, so I talk about the real situation.
What was the message you were trying to convey with your album African Revolution?
I always talk to African people. Most of my songs, I say no one will save Africa for us. This album, I'm talking about education, which will change Africa. Many things happen there today because most of the people didn't go to school. I'm sure one day when most of the African people are educated, they will stand up and fight against our politicians.
Your songs have offended politicians. Can you go into those experiences?
I was in exile for five years in Mali because of the political situation in Ivory Coast. Political men did not like my message, so I left the country for my security. I came back in 2007 when the war finished and I did some shows as my contribution. I can come back to Ivory Coast now, but I still live in Mali.
But as we're speaking, you're in France. Do you mind if I ask why you're there?
I'm in France working on my new album. We're in the studio tomorrow working on that before leaving for Miami.
See also: Miami Reggae Festival 2013's Set Times