A PAM exclusive, “Ever Living” sees the collective pay tribute to immigrants, exposing their long path to human dignity, interrupted by danger and the pain of being uprooted.
The Dandana collective brings together musicians from Gambia, the Netherlands and Senegal. Following the release of their album Free The System! in 2020 and their videos for “Free The Single!” and “Ndanka Ndanka,” the collective now reflects on the conditions of immigrants on “Ever Living.” This project is greatly inspired by Guido Johanns, their Dutch-Surinamese friend, as well as African art, as evidenced by his Studio Afric initiative. Guido passed away on April 19, 2019, and this date is honored in the choice to release this track today.. He was also known for short films, like Gifts From Babylon, which aimed at exploring the psychological impact of the irregular migration of Africans heading to Europe.
Christopher Tijan Smith plays the role of Modou, a young Gambian immigrant. He tells the story of his difficult journey: “I had to leave my parents to earn money. I broke up with my childhood sweetheart Ya Awa.” After attempting to seduce an elderly white woman, he left for Libya, where he suffered atrocities before finally being expelled from the European Union five years later … “I made it to Babylon, but at what cost? It hurts me. It haunts me. Look at me … How can I go home like this?” He finds himself torn between contradictory injunctions, between the European way of life and the expectations, morals and traditions of his Muslim father, who told his son: “No matter how poor I am, I will always be your father. If this is what Europe has given you, you can’t stay with me.”
On the way home, Modou seems traumatized, having lost his money and papers. He ponders on a reflection made by the British-Congolese poet JJ Bola: “I once heard that: ‘No one leaves home if the hurt that will come is greater than the hurt that will be left behind.’ I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. When does the hurt stop?” Dandana immerses us in the daily life of many immigrants in order to do them justice. Balafon, guitar, piano and sabar serve to sublimate this message, as does the voice of the griot Evou Gaye Mada. Forever faithful to the musical cultures of West Africa, Dandana reminds us of the death of more than 20,000 people in the Mediterranean since 2014, described by the UN as the most dangerous migratory path in the world. The collective dedicated the video to these migrants: “In memory of those who passed away during their journey to seek for a better future in Europe.”