Freddy Will's Notebook

    The mind of an Intricate Wordsmith

    How many are Sierra Leoneans reading this blog who have heard the favorite adage? By popular demand, most people divulge this with confidence. They say, “Do not wait until I’m gone to send me flowers. Give me my roses while I can smell them.” If you’re not a Sierra Leonean, you might find out about this internationally known artist for the first time. Steady Bongo is a seasoned and sophisticated traditional Sierra Leonean musician. He is no stranger to the masses. Here is a side note. Freddy Will Publishing is fully implemented and ready to write, publish, and distribute complete biographies. We shall etch the names of such legends from the motherland forever in the crevis of reality.

    I was a true tenderfoot, moving from place to place, looking to adjust to a new atmosphere in Sierra Leone.”

    It was right before I moved to Grassfield, Freetown. There a young rapper called Shadow Boxxer would inspire me. I had been a consummate student at Christ the King College in Bo for two years (1990 – 1992). Before that, I’d escaped the first Liberian Civil war. A wild journey, yet unfathomed, laid ahead of me. I was a true tenderfoot, moving from place to place. In 1990, I tried to adjust to a new atmosphere in Sierra Leone. It was soothing to take solace to his music. The man, the myth, and the legend is Lansana Sheriff, aka Steady Bongo. That spring, while I completed Form 2 at CKC. Sheriff delivered his debut album, “Ready Before You Married,” an instant masterpiece in the world of traditional music.  

    Undoubtedly, Steady Bongo shook the music community in Sierra Leone, and he has endured the examination of various seasons. He debuted his career at a time when Hip Hop was on the cusp of sweeping through the country. If you were growing up in Bo at that time, you might have heard about the T-Lex Brothers, American Tourists, and the best rapper in town – Say Say Moody. If you were an adventurous teen who didn’t mind the ass whipping later when you got home from staying out late at night. You relished for the thought of sneaking into the Uptown night club. Or maybe, you’d play it safe and opt to watch an after school movie of Sholay at the Rio Cinema.

    In any of the two scenarios, Lansana Sheriff’s brand new debut album would be the soundtrack in the backdrop of your day. Mothers hummed his tunes as they worked on the farm, and fathers laughed wholeheartedly as they drank their palm wine to it. As Lansana Sheriff became an icon in Sierra Leone’s twentieth-century folk music, I admired how he stuck to his originality. He never copied anyone. He never sold out his creativity by allowing himself to become someone else. Steady Bongo stayed true to his essence. If you are a Sierra Leonean, no matter where you are, the Steady Bongo drums and guitar percussion calls you. His sound is the epitome of Salone folk music.

    Steady Bongo went on to create three more classics, “Kormot Bi En Me” (1996), “Welcome to Democracy Na Salone” (1998), and “Born For Suffer” (1999).” 

    You could be walking in the streets or sitting somewhere when his music comes on you stop what you’re doing and check who is playing it. That is especially true when you are in a foreign country. Way before Tupac recorded “Dear Mama,” Steady Bongo released a classic song for mothers. That song brings the Salone out of every Sierra Leonean. It brings back so many great memories of Bo. Today, Bo has changed dramatically. Steady Bongo went on to create three more classics, “Kormot Bi En Me” (1996), “Welcome to Democracy Na Salone” (1998), and “Born For Suffer” (1999). He entertained and inspired the natives while a new Hip Hop wave swept through the nation. 

    True For Most Sierra Leoneans

    When I hear his album, I see pictures in my mind of relatives who have passed on as well as those unforgettable images of 1990 Bo Town. That may be the same in Kenema, Kono, Koindu, and other parts of the country. In the United Kingdom, my grandmother dances to this man’s music. The same thing happens in every corner of the diaspora. Lansana Sheriff is the definition of what an authentic artist should strive to become. Unless they were instrumentalists, you do not see him collaborating with many others. He has not been swayed to shift his sound to appease the listening pleasure of Afrobeat, Zouk, or even Reggae audiences. For this storied artist, he is a folk singer, and that’s all there is to it.*

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