Baba Commandant lives and breathes his Manding music

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Baba Commandant lives and breathes his Manding music

Mamadou Sanou describes himself as hard working and his actions back up his claim. Earning a living since 1981 in the world of music, Baba Commandant – his stage name – has danced, sung, directed, and composed his way into his own style of Manding music fused with Afrobeat a la Fela Kuti.

Mshale spoke with Baba recently in the midst of a busy music lesson for children learning to play Baba’s own instrument, the Donso n’goni.

“We are going back to the USA in September,” he said, his voice elevated as it competed with children talking, strumming, and plucking in the background. “With our willingness, our work, and the music of Baba Commandant and the Afromandingo Band, we are a group of very warm musicians,” then added, “very powerful.”

They will take the stage at The Cedar on September 20th.“On stage, We have this warmth. My instrument is a traditional instrument. My music, my style, it’s a mix of traditional and modern, it’s the Afrobeat style, a very danceable music.
We want to share this music to forge bonds between people.”

Baba and his current band, Mandingo Band, comprised of Baba as lead singer and Donso n’goni player, Issouf Diabaté on lead guitar, Wendeyida Ouedraogo on bass guitar, and Abbass Kaboré on drums have produced three albums, the latest recorded in 2022.

They’ve taken their music on the road because they “want to share [their] music, not only in Africa, but globally, “to go all around the world.”

Baba said, “I want the audience to receive a lot of warmth of love, and it’s win-win, it’s an exchange too, of daily life, of love. It’s a music of wisdom, of social collision, of awareness. It’s a music to bind people together. It has a very danceable rhythm. I want them to participate. I would love my music to be shared, I would love my audience to share everything they remember about it.”

Coming from the city of Bobo-Diulasso, in Burkina Faso, the group is rooted in the Manding musical traditions of their ancestral legacy. Baba includes electric guitar in his band while at the same time insisting upon the traditional instrument of the n’goni.

This six- or eight-string instrument, “is the instrument played by the African hunters, who are the masters of the jungle, they know plants, medicine, and also animals. They hunt game with forces of nature, and they are also armed,” said Baba.

“The n’goni welcomes [the hunters], by singing the divine forces of the landscape. It is also everyday music, to bind our beings together, bones and flesh,” Baba said.

“I want to persevere,” Baba concludes. “And you know, for us it’s not exhausting at all,” he said with energy.  “It’s our work. When we leave the stage, that’s when we feel exhausted, but on stage, we give our best to our audience, and to our collaborators, to those who invite us. We are very consistent, with Mandingo Band we are tireless, we want to share [our music] with the entire world.”

Their standing show at The Cedar on Wednesday, September 20th is at 7:30, doors opening half hour before. Tickets available here.

Author

  • Susan Budig

    Susan is based in Minneapolis and reports on general assignments for Mshale with a focus on entertainment. In addition to reporting, she is also a writer, poet, teacher and coach.

About Susan Budig

Susan is based in Minneapolis and reports on general assignments for Mshale with a focus on entertainment. In addition to reporting, she is also a writer, poet, teacher and coach.

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