The Kolèktif Pawòl a Vélo celebrated the musician’s 88th birthday

This Saturday, December 7, 2019, Marcel Lollia nicknamed “Vélo” would have been 88 if he had not left this world on June 5, 1984. Kolèktif Pawòl a Vélo, composed among others of the association “Nou a Yo” chaired by Servais Vilovar, celebrated this birthday in the presence of several cultural personalities and the son of the famous “tanbouyé”.

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The ceremony began with a visit to Marcel Lollia’s grave at Pointe-à-Pitre cemetery this Saturday morning at 11:00 am. In the afternoon, the Kolèktif Pawol a Vélo which includes the association “Nou a Yo” and various people who knew personally the famous tanbouyé or who like gwoka, went to the pedestrian street of the city. Every Saturday, ka players from Akiyo group or anonymous ka players come together to make this traditional Guadeloupean music sound.

At 2.30 pm, Patrick Nérini (general representative of Nou a Yo) arrived with a spray of flowers which he deposited in front of the musicians, singers and dancers, the ka drums continued to express themselves with more vigour for the total happiness of the spectators who are always regular to this Saturday musical meeting while the stores of the city begin to close their roller shutters.

Around 3:30 pm, a figure that many do not know but who played a key role alongside Marcel Lollia aka “Vélo” came on stage.

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Christian Mathurin aka “Takadoum”

The return of Christian Mathurin aka “Takadoum”

That man was Christian Mathurin aka “Takadoum”. This Guadeloupean who has been living for sixteen years in England, offered to “Vélo” his first drum-ka, so Kolètif Pawòl a Vélo thought his presence was essential at this ceremony and paid his plane ticket. “Takadoum” was dancing when he took the spray until Vélo’s statue. A few minutes later, this tribute continued on the Place de la Victoire, not far from the bandstand. In addition to Christian Mathurin who spoke, among others, about the talent and humility of his friend “Vélo”, were present several personalities who also knew Marcel Lollia like Gilbert Coco (musician), Ray H (host, comedian, musician and founder member of Akiyo), Nicole Valton (gwoka dancer) and Viviane Dagonia. This smiling and energetic woman is the person who organized in June 1984 Vélo’s wake on this same place of Pointe-à-Pitre, she said that she would like to see public places where gwoka express itself to be numerous so that culture opens to the great majority of people.

There is no doubt that the audience experienced a historic moment when it saw on this great occasion those who lived with the famous musician and who knew his sorrows and his joys…

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Patrick Nérini & Patrick Lollia

Patrick Lollia, Marcel Lollia’s son

However, the highlight of the event was Patrick Lollia’s introduction to the crowd. Until now we had seen many “tanbouyé” who said they were Vélo’s “spiritual sons”. This Saturday, December 7, 2019, at 17 o’clock, those present met the true son of the famous musician who was born in February 1966 and also knows how to play the ka. He confessed that he did not have many memories of his famous father as a musician, but he said that his father was not a tramp all alone in the world and he had a family… a discreet family who knows that “Vélo” now belongs to Guadeloupe”, he said.

The audience knew that Vélo‘s nickname had been inspired by Vernance, the first name of Marcel Lollia’s father, and that had nothing to do with the fact that one day, he stole a bike from a trader of Syro-Lebanese origin…

To those who spoke about political problems in Guadeloupe, Patrick Lollia explained that his father was not a political activist…

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A message from 56 years ago

After these short speeches, at 5:15 pm, a plaque was fixed to the bandstand; it bears the following message: “…1963… Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, astounded journalists question Vélo about the origin of Gwoka, he answers: “An pa sav… Avè lesklavaj nou sibi on lo, mé avè Gwoka-la, nou péké sibi ankò“. Mawsèl Lollia. Interview conducted by AwmistiS with Jean Chomereau-Lamotte”. The literal English translation of those words in Creole is : “I do not know… With slavery, we have suffered a lot but with Gwoka, we will not suffer anymore”.

For his part, Patrick Nérini pointed out some great historical facts of this period of the 20th century including the speech by American Pastor, Martin Luther King, “I have a dream” to try to explain in what context the Guadeloupean musician said this words.

The ceremony to celebrate the 88th birthday of Marcel Lollia nicknamed “Vélo” ended in front of the bandstand with the sound of ka.