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1 december 1944, Thiaroye military camp, right outside of Dakar, Senegal.
1600 French soldiers of West African origin (Benin, Mali, Ivory Coast, Tchad, Senegal , Gabon, Togo etc.) have been quickly evacuated by the French Army during what was subsequentially called the ‘whitening of the colonial troops’ that happened before the armistice signature. The soldiers are awaiting to be paid for their war effort. Things go sideways, protests erupt, and the French military staff decides to open fire. The official number of casualties is 35, although various sources claim several hundred people died on that fatal day.
Since then, several artists have grasped that difficult topic, screaming for recognition and reparation.
Such is the case with a young Senegalese musician and singer named Maxidilick Adioa, with his very first single ever released, ‘Toubab Bile’, in 1987.
At that time, Adioa had been living in France for a few years. He was considered a master percussionist, playing, recording and touring alongside the great Ivorian artist Alpha Blondy. He had just written a beautiful tune, ‘Nao’, for Aminata Fall, one of the biggest actress and singers in Senegal. It seemed like a good time to launch his solo career.
'Toubab Bilé' remains Adioa’s biggest hit to this day, and one of the best African reggae tunes ever recorded. Adioa ended up signing an album deal with Chris Blackwell’s Island records and toured the world endlessly during the following years.
In 2012, François Hollande was the first French President to officially mention and pay tribute to the Thiaroye massacre in a speech.
A. Toubab Bile
B. Fatelikul (Toubab Bile Dub)
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