- World Of Music - Svastara - 2008
RAS AMADEUS BONGO
Ras Amadeüs Bongo
After slavery had been abolished in Reunion, the Creole
Culture remained muzzled up, until 1960, unable to express itself openly ;
even with the end of colonization,
anything connected to African or Madagascan culture frightened the authorities.
Maloya (Madagascan origin: I'm fed up; Mozambican origin: witchery - traditional
music) and Moringue (an ancient fighting tradition) remained in the shadows
until 1980; to speak Creole was even viewed as shameful. (To understand the story
of Ras Amadeüs Bongo, one has to understand the circumstances which led him
to Reggae music.)
Bongo was born in 1964 in St Denis (Reunion) and lives in different neighbourhoods
of St Denis, "Kamp Ozou", "Ruelle Papangue", and spent his teenage years in
the "Chaudron". During the time family get together, he noticed
that very late at night, the atmosphere changed: traditional instruments appeared,
people sang and danced, the
cloak of night allowing the expression of their culture without risking police
repression; it was the same with Moringue fights which took place in secret
locations, never publicly. Bongo deeply feels as unfair these permanent frustrations
and the unbearable forbiddings of still existing colonization mentality.
Parent State France systematically censors Reunion culture
by imposing a musical monopoly on the island. However in 1977, new sounds were
heard in the neighbourhoods.
Friends back from Paris brought with them Caribbean sound: Exile One, Midnight
Groover, Grammacks... these groups brougt a fresh sound with new claiming
vibes. They played calypso, cadence but also reggae music. Bongo discovered
strength in this new rhythm.
1979: Ras Amadeüs Bongo leaves Reunion with all his family
and land in the Dordogne area.
1980: he attends Bob Marley’s concert in Toulon.
1981: he decides to leave his family to go and live in Lyon; he meets the
1982: he is the animator of the first reggae broadcast on the Lyon air waves:
"International Reggae" (Radio Léon).
1983: he attends Peter Tosh's concert in Lyon.
1984: a reggae band (Demon Seed) from the area is looking for a singer: he
applies and is chosen and for four years, he lives his first big band experience
(gigs, records, television...)
1986: Bongo is the animator of a new reggae
broadcast - "Soleil des Tropiks" (R.M.L).
1988: he loses his brother in music and stops music.
1990: Ras Amadeüs Bongo comes back to music with different groups to carry
on learning his trade.
In 1997 he decides to go solo to develop his ideas.
1997 to 2007: these last years, Bongo evolves as an author, interpreter,
percussionist. A big challenge is lying in wait for him: to become a composer. He
starts learning the guitar by himself to compose, to create his own universe.
He uses this independence to truly express the rebellion in him and his sensitivity.
Bongo doesn't want to surf on the frail waves of fashion,
or globalize his music towards a standard item; He elaborates his style around
of Africa and Jamaica with a Creole touch. He uses his kreol language in
all his lyrics to state his claims.
It is his own way of resisting as an artist against the domination and
supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon language. It is with this language that colonization
as shameful that he wants to give his message. Ras Amadeüs Bongo decides
to form his own band to test his first creations "live".
The route of his shows is going to take him to the Balkans,
mainly Bosnia & Herzegovina where he sets up six tours. He goes with two humanitarian associations
Bosnia" and "Emmaüs International". There he discovers the
horror of a freshly ended war and the camps of refugees. Bongo acts on the
spot, he introduces his music in schools, village squares,
festivals, even in the army camps of the KFOR...
Another unforgettable and intense moment for him was his meeting with the Abbé
Pierre in Tuzla, Bosnia & Herzegovina.
1999: Ras Amadeüs Bongo as a special guest is the last artist to sing at
the 50th birthday of Emmaüs, which takes place in Place Bellecour Lyon,
live by France 3. But his commitment doesn't stop with the stage or in a
studio; For one year he introduces children in infant schools and the retarded
people of a specialized
home to the "new percussions".
2003: After a few experiences in studio (singles, compilations), Bongo commits
himself to a 12-title album.
2005: he self produces "Le Monde Est Mon Village".
Today, he creates on the consolidated basis of these last 10 years, together
with his chorist Sister Lain and his brother base player Lord Chal'Man; two
new musicians, Mister Régis, a experienced professional drummer, and Benaissa
Skunky Man, an experienced keyboard player from Paris, have recently joined
In this opus, Bongo defines himself as an observer, an apolitical
witness and a world citizen. His message for peace, of non-violence is to Humane-ness.
Far from rasta mimetism, he cultivates his spiritual strength with Taiji Quan.
With his alter mondialist Roots World Reggae, Ras Amadeüs Bongo calls for reflexion,
and sing wakening of the young Creole people.