Chapter 3: Hurry up – Harakisha! A Young Girl’s Call for Movement

My favorite song on the album. I think. It’s an Electro House tune and the lyrics are from the point of view of a little girl, urging her family: her brother, her father, to hurry (Harakisha), hurry up and leave their war torn home behind. There is no love here, there is no peace here. There is nothing here.

There is no peace here, there is no shade here. Children lining up for water during the South Sudan civil war in 2014. Things still have not been resolved.

As an immigrant to the US, although I did not come from a war torn land per se, I grew up studying and observing wars and the movement of large groups of people. In the notes for El Hend, I talk about how Pakistan was carved out of India, triggering what was, and probably still is, the largest mass migration of a group of people in history. Well that is unless you then count the second migration of now Pakistanis to England, Canada and the US, once they realized what they had migrated to.

Anyway, all throughout the 80s and 90s, we saw war on our news. The Iran/Iraq war, the Rwandan crisis, the bloodshed in the Balkans. War creates refugees, as we’ve seen time and time again, most recently during the Syrian civil war. What do these refugees go through? What goes through the mind of a young girl from Malawi? I can only imagine. This was that effort.

Heal Africa. DRC conflict 2012 (AP Photo/Melanie Gouby).

Musically, if we go back to my original ‘the ultimate’ _ track, this was my attempt and making an African dance song along the lines of the legendary Yeke Yeke by Mory Kante. This masterpiece had two comings, one in the late 80s (and it hit many charts all over Europe) and another in the mid 90s as it was rearranged by German Acid House master Hardfloor. I prefer the richer original. This was my homage to Yeke Yeke. Of course, it turned out to be its own thing, which was by design, but there is a spirit of celebration and hope that I think a lot of us felt when we first heard Mory sing Yeke Yeke, and not knowing a word of Mandinka.

A demonstration by the Congolese diaspora outside the White House to bring attention to the bloody 2012 rebellion by the March 23 Movement aka Armée révolutionnaire du Congo. Circa 2012.

Technically, it’s got that nice juicy Moog bass, lots of percussion, that delightful Kora again, and something called a Fula flute that plays the lead. Also known as a Tambin, it was apparently used in Black Panther. It is the national instrument of the west African Fula people and has the sweetest, almost plaintive sound. I thank them for introducing it to the world.

My favorite part of this song, apart from the bassline and the story and the perfusion, is Swahili! Yes, I wanted to sing in Swahili. A gorgeous sounding language with a bit of Arabic in there. I wrote the melody early on; Harakisha was the second song I composed after El Hend, while walking around downtown Washington DC after work, humming the tune and texting with Her. I didn’t write the lyrics until September of 2020. Magically, Google Translate has a pretty nifty Swahili algorithm, and I happen to be an above average wordsmith. Between the two of us, I got the perfect lyrics for that killer melody. My accent may not be spot on, and perhaps it’s not a 100% grammatically correct Swahili, but the passion and the love were absolutely authentic. I hope they came through.

The heavenly Kora, sampled beautifully by UVI for their suite of world instruments. A godsend for the Kora loving keyboardist.

Next: Chapter 4. Pir.