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Agents of the Revolution

Agents of the Revolution

(p.19) 1 Agents of the Revolution
The Revolution's Echoes
Nomi Dave
University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the development of popular nationalist music during the Guinean Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s and introduces first president, Ahmed Sékou Touré, as well as the state-sponsored musicians who promoted his vision. The analysis focuses on the role of sound, music, and, in particular, voice in producing and maintaining Touré’s revolutionary ideology. Through ‘sounded authority’, Touré’s voice was amplified, reproduced, broadcast, and imitated as the highest source of power. Moreover, an elaborate system of state-sponsored competitions sanctioned the official version of revolutionary Guinean culture. The narrative focuses on the national dance band Bembeya Jazz and its participation in the 1969 Pan-African Cultural Festival in Algiers, as well as an analysis of voice and authority in the song ‘Regard Sur le Passé’. The chapter considers how joyfulness, collectivity, and effervescence found room within a violent culture of control; and how playful yet intense competition between musicians existed within a collectivist, socialist ideology as musicians pursued their own goals.

Keywords:   Guinean Cultural Revolution, Sekou Toure, Bembeya Jazz, voice, panafricanism

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