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Erik Aliana and Tûki roots

By Alison Hird

Singer-songwriter Erik Aliana talks to RFI about championing the ancestral rhythms of his native Cameroon on his new album Just My Soul.

Aliana originates from Badissa in central Cameroon. Though he’s made Paris his home, he remains committed to promoting the music and language of his Tûki ethnic group.

“Tûki is the origin of all Beti, the people from central and south Cameroon, but we are few now, only about 3,000 [speakers],” he says.

He describes his music as “ancestral polyrhythm with voice”. It's a sincere, no frills sound that he wants to bring "to the world".

All the more so because "we lost a lot of music and rhythms from Africa," as people left rural areas for the city.

He wanted the album Just My Soul to show “the skeleton” of his music. With fellow Cameroonian Francis “Picket” Dschoutzeo on bass, he plays traditional percussion such as sanza and claves, as well as his trusted guitar.

Aliana denounces deforestation on Roule Camion, the trappings of profit on Narora and the proliferation of weapons on Ngaré. And delivers a strong message on the song Spirituality.

"Spirituality for me is my humanity, my identity and this identity comes from my ancestors. My spirituality is like the relation with nature, with something good.

“In Africa we don’t have religion. We respect nature, we pray [to] nature. It’s important that we come back to this idea.”

Aliana may never be rich, and probably not famous, but he is sticking to his guns.

“Thanks my Cameroon roots, my Badissa roots, I am convinced of my message. I do what I do,” he laughs. And he does it well.

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