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Alpha Blondy: “La guerre”

Prevots, Aaron. Southwestern University, Georgetown, TX. October 2006.

Alpha Blondy has long been an African Reggae innovator. His songs in French provide valuable insights on Francophonie. “La guerre,” an entreaty for a more peaceful world free of inequality, is on the 1995 Dieu, the 2002 L’Essentiel, and the 2004 Radical Roots from the Emperor of African Reggae. Its lyrics have a fascinating history, in that they reprise Bob Marley’s “War” (Rastaman Vibration, 1976), a protest anthem inspired by Haile Selassie the First’s 1963 United Nations peace speech. An expansion activity when presenting Alpha Blondy might thus include the French translation “Discours de Haile Selassie à l’ONU,” available as of this writing at jahmusic.net. A “Fiche artiste” for Alpha Blondy can be found at tv5.org, via the search box, and Wikipedia has informative pages as well.

Click here for a handout that introduces the subjunctive in connection with “La guerre.” The use of the future tense (and the expression “tant que”) can also be interesting focal points. The CD Yitzhak Rabin features similar material (and an insert with words to all songs): “Les imbéciles,” “Armée française,” and “Guerre civile.” Visit Cavilam en ligne for words and teaching tips regarding Alpha Blondy’s “Journaliste en danger” (1999) and/or see Google for this particular video. Tiken Jah Fakoly is another outspoken reggae artist featured in the same series. The Senegalese duo Positive Black Soul has also been much acclaimed and helpful information can be found at Cavilam en ligne. Le Hall de la Chanson has a virtual exhibit on Les Africains de la chanson francophone. Recommended reading (includes lyrics): Konaté, Yacouba, Alpha Blondy: Reggae et société en Afrique Noire (Abidjan: Éditions CEDA, 1987).

**Disclaimer: Alpha Blondy is highly political. His opinions do not necessarily reflect those of anyone connected with this site, where he is mentioned because his topical songs in French are well written and thus invite student reflection.**