‘Bambara’, the first single and video released from Ghoula’s new album “Demi Ecreme” (Half-Skimmed), is a compelling take on Stambali culture and a homage to its ancient and powerful music traditions. Stambali culture was introduced in Tunisia by Sub-Saharan Mandinka migrant and slave communities called Bambara and gradually developed into a unique and deeply-rooted Afro-Tunisian culture.
Based on a vocal sample from Abd El Mejid Mihoub, one of the greatest “Yenna” virtuosos, (or grand masters) of Stambali music in Tunisia, it was originally recorded by the ethnomusicologist Richard Jankowsky, whose fieldwork has provided unprecedented research, insight and recordings of Stambali ceremonies in Tunisia.
The lyrics of ‘Bambara’, like many songs in the Stambali repertoire are not all easily understandable given their combination of several vernacular languages still spoken today across West Africa, inherited from the Bambara, Kanuri and Songhay peoples.
The video, created by Belgian artist Bert Julian Vercruysse, explores and uses Afro-Maghrebi patterns that emanate from artisanal crafts, carpet patterns, tiles, mosaics and decorative art originating from southern Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
Symbolising the evoking of a Stambali ceremony, B.J. Veracruz has in essence created his own ‘sampling’ parallel to Ghoula’s work, a visual translation of an entire yet disregarded part of Tunisian history, heritage and culture.