“Life is an experience, life is research. The only real university
is the University of Life.”
Omar Ka, Soruuna (2004)
The Fulani are the most widespread of all West African peoples. Traditionally
cattle herding nomads, Fulani communities have settled in Cameroon,
Niger, Mali, Guinea, Senegal and Nigeria. Wherever they went, they developed
distinctive cultural practices and musical styles.
Omar Ka was born in 1973 in Senegal, though his family roots lie in
Niger. His sensitive vocals and intricate guitar melodies tell instantly
of his Nigerian ancestry, while mbalax, reggae and funk beats ground
his music firmly in the bustling streets of Dakar.
The Fula Band – a group of friends and brothers- came together
in 1991 to create their unique brand of Fula music. After four years
of intense production and busy touring schedules around West Africa,
Omar Ka headed for Europe in 1996 to prepare the road to international
It took another three years before the band embarked on their first
European tour. Three years during which Omar collaborated with a variety
of Dutch musicians and featured on various recordings. In 1997 Omar
Ka released his first album, “H.O.W” together with Willem
Cramer and Hanyo van Oosterom. Meanwhile, his band members continued
their individual projects in Senegal.
Out of Africa
In 1999, Omar Ka & Fula Band finally reunited to set out on a highly
acclaimed tour, which took them to the stages of Belgium and the Netherlands.
Their overwhelming success encouraged them to record their debut album
Mbaaranaabe/Nomad (2000). Nomad got very positive reviews. Since then,
Omar Ka & Fula Band have played on various international festivals.
“Desert blues meets Dakar beat...” wrote the London FRoots
magazine about the music of the Fula Band. The lyrics, all written by
Omar Ka, are about the nomad life as Omar knows it from his childhood.
The nature and the quality of the life of the Fulani people is the main
theme of his poetical lyrics. Omar Ka & Fula Band became the group
of the month in June 2000 chosen by the Dutch Popunie. The album Nomad
was voted the CD of the week on Radio Rijnmond and the CD of the day
by the Dutch daily Rotterdams Dagblad. The individual tracks were selected
for different compilations as DUTCH 2001 – the best world music
made in the Netherlands in 2000. The national television (NPS) broadcast
a documentary about Omar Ka in Sptember 2001. TV Rijnmond broadcast
another documentary about Omar Ka in Vernis/Stem in 2002. Omar contributed
to different important music projects such as Music Meeting in Nijmegen
(2001) and Made in Holland – a tribute to diversity (2002) and
In May 2003, Omar Ka & Fula Band performed during the Night of Tiësto
in Arnhem for 25 000 people.
The last three years has Omar Ka spent mostly in Europe meeting plenty
of musicians and preparing his new album SORUUNA (released 30th May 2004).
All lyrics on the album Soruuna have been written by Omar Ka. Even
now he focuses on Africa. The lyrics are less poetic this time and more
social, even political. He sings also about immigrants: “…Immigrants
can bring good things because they plant their own culture within another
culture. Immigration can mean the education of the whole world………So
the world educates itself. Say welcome to each other! Immigration can
be the wealth of our planet, our mission to understand each other.”
He sings about African women, the children of Africa, about the aid
organizations, about human fear. In the last song Laare: “It is
better to see than to listen only….Sometimes you hear many things
but wait until you get to see them for yourself!".
Omar Ka about Soruuna: “My people enjoy the wisdom of a life
lived in balance with nature. With each change of season, they guide
their flocks to new pastures, seeing new things and meeting new people
along the way, trading exciting stories. At the end of a long day they
gather around a fragrant fire to share music and conversation. This
is a precious time, as they love to discuss the experiences of their
lives just as any traveler does. Just as I do. This is the soruuna.
It is a grounding point in everyone’s life journey – it’s
the part we learn from and the part we feel compelled to share. The
soruuna gives each of us understanding, strength and inspiration in
life. I hope this album will become a soruuna for music lovers.”
Along with the steady members of the Fula Band, Omar invited more musicians
to participate on the recording. Malick Pathé Sow plays the traditional
instrument hoddu, Praful the flute. There are special African instruments
to hear as shekere, udu, clay drum, calabas, sabar, percussion, tama,
talking drums and of course the beautiful tunes of the kora. Sylvie
Nahawa Sadio (Zap Mamma) visited the studio to add a wonderful chorus
to some of the songs.
Dennis Winter was in the studio to produce the album with all his love.