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The year is 1983, an enchanting melody seeps through African airwaves. Listeners lean in towards their stereos to turn up the volume because playing on the radio, is a sound they have never heard before. With each resounding beat, heads bop to the cadence, speakers bump to the rhythm and the singer’s lyrical finesse, stashes the audience in a trance.
It’s not only a new song, it’s a captivating one and it’s music to the ears. The son of the soil responsible for this alchemy hails straight from the heart of Africa. He goes by Sam Mangwana. Domiciled in Kinshasa, Congo, he belts out a beautiful tune from the bottom of his belly. The chorus ensnares listeners with ecstasy and it goes,
Bonne Annèe
Bonne Annèe
Bonne Annèe oooh
Bonne Annèe oooh

Mangwana’s sultry voice let’s out a jubilant rallying cry to progenies of Africa wishing all a Happy New Year.
Abidjan Bonne Annèe Ouagadougou Bonne Annèe
Libreville o Gabon. Lubumbashi, Kinshasa.
Brazaville o Congo. Afrika Bonne Annèe!

He’s nicknamed ‘pigeon voyageur’ (travelling pigeon) because he travelled widely just as his voice traversed the world beyond the precincts of Congo entertaining people. Mangwana’s message was hard and fast and home and dry. His recital, casts listeners under a spell, the incantation that is Bonnie Annèe! Two succinct words but vivid and clear, which is French for Happy New Year.
In the 80’s, he spots a well kempt nappy haired afro and a dark moustache decorates his countenance. It’s perceptible that he is sartorially adept from his dressing and looks. As he poses in his pictures with panache epically representing a young, contemporary and bold African poster child.
Currently a living legend at 75 he has been gracefully wizened by age but still stands vintage as ever. 37 years since the release of Bonne Annèe and perhaps even Mangwana knew little about the longevity that song would imbue. Unlike many other Rhumba tracks that continue to gather dust in the catalogues of drabness. His song though old maintains pertinence for it’s quaint nature and is set to go down as a timeless record.
Reason being it bears glad tidings. Bonne Annèe as is the celebration of a New Year inspires us to delight in the promise of a renewed hope. Given that the bygone year is one to forget, the prospect of 2021 behooves us to only forge forward. And only retreat to the past to remind ourselves of how far we’ve come. How hard we’ve fought and despite suffering numerous losses we ultimately triumphed. Because in an era of calamity; to live is to achieve.
Vladmir Lenin once remarked, “There are decades where nothing happens and there are weeks where decades happen.”
Within the forty eight weeks that summed up 2020, we experienced a lifetime of hardship. Yet that is no cause for despair because where there is life there is hope.
If history is any valid reference to foretell the future then things will and must certainly look up in coming days. Exactly one hundred years ago our forefathers were in our very situation.
1918 the warring parties of the First World Wars opted for a ceasefire. Following widespread destruction of property and life -men came to their senses and realized they only fancy war because of testosterone induced pettiness. It’s unfortunate they only receive such epiphanies after committing irredeemable harm.
Adding insult to injury, was a rapidly spawning Spanish Flu that saw to the decimation of approximately 100 million people. Occurring as well in 1918. In the subsequent years it dawned on people that they had seen more death than life. More squalor than prosperity. More devastation and depravity than tranquility.
Consequently, people resolved to making the 1920s a period of renaissance. Where the reigning mantra was to live a little. Boy didn’t they party, dress up, create art and live in excess. Business boomed, flowers bloomed and for a season no danger loomed. It took grave catastrophe for people to create room for life to thrive. In an epoch famously described as the “Roaring 20s” of the 20th century. We find ourselves in the 2020s and just like a century ago you bet these 20s must roar.
Fitzgerald a man who lived through the roaring 1920s and author of bestseller “The Great Gatsby”. Perfectly reflects on the 1920s in his magnum opus through a quote I wish I wrote.
He says, “It eluded us then, but that’s no matter-tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…And then one fine morning…”
From that all I can take home, is things go tits up just to look up.
And so are the words Paul scribed to the Phillipians in the Bible. Chapter 3 verse 13, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”
Let the water under the bridge rest and look alive to what is yet to come.
May all the luck befall you this year, 2021. As for me I waltz on to Sam Mangwana’s enduring jam,
Bonne Annèe
Bonne Annèe
Bonne Annèe oooh
Bonne Annèe oooh

Happy New Year Folks!

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