Akiyo paid tribute to ka player “Vélo”

On June 5, 1984, Marcel Lollia nicknamed “Vélo” died at the age of 47. The ka player or “tanbouyé” became the symbol of cultural resistance in Guadeloupe. As every year in June, the association “Akiyo” paid tribute to him in the pedestrian street in Pointe-à-Pitre.

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In the 1980s, Guadeloupe was plunged into a deep identity crisis so the African roots were advocated: gwoka music, African music, Jamaican reggae, braided hair and clothing made of African fabric (wax) for example became very fashionable… This great crisis was also political because the independence movement demanded the decolonization of Guadeloupe which had become a French Department since 1946 and a French Region since 1982. In some colleges and high schools, some teachers talked about politics in class as to raise the awareness of young people and teach their classes in Creole, an initiative that was new at the time because this regional language was not yet “recognized” by the National Education. Bombs exploded causing damage and sometimes victims…

When he died on June 5, 1984, Marcel Lollia called “Vélo” – the one who defended the ka to the death, the one who always sat down in the streets of Pointe-à-Pitre to play this musical instrument appeared during slavery, the one that the municipal police asked to go and play elsewhere because this drum, synonymous with disorder, was forbidden in the city and the one who died almost in total indifference with alcohol as the only companion – became the symbol of this cultural and even political struggle. More than 5,000 people were present at his funeral, unheard-of in Guadeloupe…

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To preserve the memory of “Vélo”

34 years after his death, “Vélo” is not forgotten by those who often saw him playing gwoka at the Frébault street entrance and those who did not know him but who heard a lot about his talents of “tanbouyé”. This Saturday, June 9, there were many people and of all ages at the pedestrian street in Pointe-à-Pitre to participate in this tribute organized by “Akiyo”, en 1978 the “tanbouyé” was one of the founding members of the cultural association. On this occasion, an exhibition of photos and press articles as well as a sale of T-shirts took place to continue to preserve the memory of the popular musician.

The ka sounded in Pointe-à-Pitre not far from the statue of Marcel Lollia which had been decorated with flowers. Participants who wanted could enter the round to dance gwoka and celebrate the master-ka as well as the traditional culture.