Wan Fambul Catalyst for Reconciliation

Wan Fambul
Various Artists

Wan Fambul (Catalyst, 2012)

Renowned world music artists along with pop singers and rappers contribute their music Wan Fambul, a benefit album for Catalyst for Peace, an organization created by Elisabeth (Libby) Hoffman to help facilitate peace-building and unite war-torn communities.

Artists featured include Tuareg guitar revelation Bombino, retro rock band Dengue Fever, Israeli pop and world music musician Idan Raichel, the popular reggae-infused Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars, Malian blues rising star Vieux Farka Toure, South African blues singer-songwriter Vusi Mahlasela, Iranian pop act Abjeez, hip hop performers Bajah + Dry Eye Crew from Sierra Leone, Sri Lankan Tamil singer Bhi Bhiman, Lebanese rock band Mashrou’ Leila, Guyanan reggae and hip hop band Noble Society, and Ugandan rapper Saba Saba.

“We believe that music is the fastest way to pass the message,” says Sierra Leonean pop icon Bajah. “Music can go where you can’t go. Music is circulating and it can be in more than one place, and that’s the power that we’ve got as musicians. The power to preach positive music, to give voice to the voiceless.”

Libby Hoffman was astounded when she observed her first reconciliation ceremony early on in the Fambul Tok program. In a small Sierra Leonean, people gathered around a fire in the center of a dusty circle. “No one knew what was going to happen, who was going to come forward,” Hoffman remembers. “A man stood up who only had one arm and told his story of how a rebel soldier had cut it off. The chief said, ‘Do you see the person who amputated it?’ He did, and the other man stepped forward and apologized. They hugged, and the man forgave him. At first I thought, ‘They must be dramatizing it.’ But as this happened again and again, I realized that people were not acting. This was in fact the first time they’d ever talked about what had happened to them. Not only were they telling their stories fully and truthfully, they were forgiving. Someone would admit and apologize, and their victim would openly forgive them.”

Most conflicts are based on a lack of understanding and communication,” explains the Iranian pop duo Abjeez. “Music creates unanimity. No matter what religious or political view we might have, music resonates in the very same way in our bodies.”

Peace will not be reached by signing a peace treaty between our great leaders and their great leaders,” says Idan Raichel. “Ultimately, it will be achieved through knowing people from other countries as neighbors–because a neighbor is not your enemy.”

All these musicians reveal the creative power that can’t be squelched, the same power that we encountered in Sierra Leonean villages. Decades of war and poverty and systematic disenfranchisement can’t kill it,” Hoffman says. “The artists on Wan Fambul are expressing the same reality: making music affirms the creative force that is the basis of what heals and unites us.”

Catalyst for Peace has also produced a documentary titled Fambul Tok. This film shows the method and challenge of forgiveness. Watch it at http://www.fambultok.com.

Get the CD or download tracks at fambultok.com/music/about-the-cd

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