Accordionist in Kailahun laments demise of Salone’s Cultural Music

Saidu The classical sounds of typical Sierra Leonean music are no longer to be heard in the country’s once rich entertainment industry while Western style of music has completely crushed that beautiful sound we used to hear from people like the great Salia Koroma of blessed memory. Our music industry is no longer catering for the aged for the simple fact that our so called artists have been Europeanized and has led to the transformation of our traditional and country rhythms in Hip Hop lyrics that make no sense to our Mothers and Fathers in their sixties and seventies. In an effort to rediscover Sierra Leone’s traditional country music, Awoko’s entertainment Desk visited Kailahun where we discovered the only surviving accordionist trained by the late Salia Koroma of Kenema District, Vandi Baker. Silia Koroma was a renowned accordionist that was admired by many for his talent in projecting the Mende culture through music, accompanied by his perfection in handling the accordion. He represented the country around the world. In a recent interview with Vandi Baker in Kailahun, he says “people do not respect our cultural music anymore though the music is culturally educative, informative and entertaining.” Vandi said he admired Silia Koroma so much that he became an apprentice to him in the 60s. “I entertained late Siaka Steven and a host of heads of states during a visit to Freetown. The Cuban leader Fidel Castro even invited me to visit his country but due to jealousy my traveling ticket was sold to one student to study in Cuba.” He narrated. The sixty eight year old Vandi Baker expressed regret that no one is interested in typical accordion accompanied music like what he does as a profession. He is currently earning his living by playing his accordion on party and wedding celebrations and occasionally plays for visitors to Kailahun. After the interview he entertained many onlookers to their amusement for which he gathered few Leones. He says Presidents Koroma’s call to eat, drink, dress and dance like Sierra Leoneans has not been practiced by most Sierra Leoneans. Vandi Baker recalled visiting Germany and other parts of the world with the Sierra Leone Dance Troop on exhibitions and other contests.

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