Why does the “Tribute to Jacob Desvarieux” tour/Kassav’ not start in Guadeloupe?

On July 30, 2021, Jacob Desvarieux was swept away by the Covid-19 pandemic. Some people expected immediately a concert worthy of the figure to thank him for having contributed to make Zouk an international music. But, probably still in shock, the members of Kassav’ preferred to take their time.

That’s it! The production has just announced the first four dates of this tour ; it will begin on May 13, 2023 at the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival (Saint Lucia), and will continue in France on June 4, 2023 at the Théâtre Antique in Arles and on June 5 at the Nuits de Fourvière in Lyon and on August 11, 2023 at the Antilliaanse Feesten in Belgium.

We are delighted to see that Zouk lovers in other countries also want to celebrate Jacob Desvarieux, however, we cannot help but wonder why this tribute to a son of Guadeloupe does not begin on his land? Some will say that Jacob was born in France, he lived in Senegal, Guadeloupe, Martinique and traveled all over the world, so it does not really matter…

Hold-up of Zouk

Still, symbolically, we would have liked this tour to start in Guadeloupe, the island where the Kassav’ band was born thanks to its founders Pierre-Édouard Décimus, Jacob Desvarieux and Freddy Marshall, then to go to Martinique and then to make a stopover in all the countries where the mythical band has been performing for over forty years. Moreover, Kassav’ had its first hits in Guadeloupe and Martinique before conquering the world and its members are from these two French Caribbean territories.

It is true that Zouk was created here, but many people don’t know that. In Cuba, for example, some people think that it is Haitian music… Today, this young music has been adopted in countries where it has been slightly “modified” and called by another name. In France, a successful singer of African origin has “seasoned” it in her own way and declares that her style of music is R&B/soul. Everybody applauds and nobody dares to tell her otherwise…

Finally, is there anyone to claim at the international level (and not at the local level, as is now the case) that Zouk is a creation of the Kassav’ band, from Guadeloupe and composed of Guadeloupean and Martinican musicians and singers? Where are the “sentries” of Zouk?

Fakoly’s failed buzz

On October 15, 2022, Tiken Jah Fakoly said in an interview with the newspaper Le Monde: “A reggaeman who is not interested in politics should play zouk”. If the Ivorian artist thought he would make the buzz with his remark, he was rather ignored here. Obviously, he does not know the history of zouk and he focused on Zouk-Love while there are other “variants” in this music. If Jacob Desvarieux were alive, how would he have reacted to the remark made by this African artist?

We thank Doumbia Moussa Fakoly (his real name) for having chosen a music from our Caribbean region – Jamaican reggae – to express himself and we hope that all his messages will one day succeed in changing politics on the African continent in order to avoid, among other things, the tragedy of all those young African migrants in the Mediterranean Sea which has become a cemetery of boat-people… In addition, he is also told that Jamaican reggae stars denounce political and other problems and they also sing love…

What if a “madman” of reggae or any other music came out of nowhere and asked all the Zouk detractors to come to a stadium with a Zouk record in order to organize a big fire? Let’s not forget that this is how disco disappeared. We remember the sad spectacle of July 12, 1979 when a “Disco Demolition Night” was organized at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Thousands of disco vinyls – music very popular among African-Americans, Hispanics and homosexuals – were burned by white American rock fans in a total hatred…

Respecting Zouk

If we love Zouk, we must claim its origin and make sure it is respected. In the 1990s, Zouk was the victim of a widespread smear campaign by some of our compatriots, Zouk-Love being nicknamed “mizik-saucisson” by a television host who is now deceased. The Guadeloupe International Zouk Festival has never had the fame it deserves… Some of our young people preferred to adopt dancehall, music invented by Jamaicans…

Symbolically, initiating the “Tribute to Jacob Desvarieux” tour here at home would have made more sense. We could console ourselves by saying that this series of concerts in memory of Kassav’ guitarist starts in our region, the Caribbean, in Saint Lucia. But there is something wrong with this case. Indeed, recently, we saw on the “local” French television that a delegation from this island was in our archipelago, a spokeswoman asked forcefully to the Guadeloupeans to come, next May, to the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival to attend this concert “Tribute to Jacob Desvarieux” because Kassav’ also belonged to the Saint Lucians. It is assumed that airlines and shipping companies will then play the game to transport Guadeloupeans and Martinicans to Castries.

But why do we have to pay for transportation, hotel, food and concert tickets to celebrate one of our departed artists? Why do people always want to “play in our wallet”? Yes, Caribbean cooperation in all areas is essential to bring our peoples closer together and to help our region grow, but we would also have liked Caribbean people from neighboring islands to come and attend the great cultural events organized in Guadeloupe or Martinique.

Celebrating Jacob Desvarieux at home first

Why make our neighbors believe that our two French Caribbean territories are “rich” because they have a strong currency and a standard of living modeled on that of France when in fact they are financially under perfusion? There are also thousands of unemployed people here… Of course, we understand that Saint Lucia wants to capture this clientele for its festival as Dominica has managed to seduce them with its World Creole Music Festival

Why not wait for this concert to come to Guadeloupe? Especially since it will be a bit like the great popular gathering that would have taken place during Jacob Desvarieux’s funeral if there had been no health restrictions.

Why are the dates of the tribute concert to Jacob Desvarieux in Guadeloupe and Martinique not yet announced? Is there a strategy to attract many Guadeloupeans and Martinicans to Saint Lucia? Maybe the organizers of this tour are waiting for a subsidy from the Regional Council of Guadeloupe or the Tourism Committee of the Islands of Guadeloupe (CTIG)…

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