German band Mellow Maroc delights Jeddah audience

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The German band Mellow Maroc delights its audience at the consul general’s residence in Jeddah on March 8. 2018.
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The German band Mellow Maroc delights its audience at the consul general’s residence in Jeddah on March 8. 2018.
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The German band Mellow Maroc delights its audience at the consul general’s residence in Jeddah on March 8. 2018.
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The German band Mellow Maroc delights its audience at the consul general’s residence in Jeddah on March 8. 2018.
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Updated 09 March 2018
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German band Mellow Maroc delights Jeddah audience

JEDDAH: German band Mellow Maroc proved a big hit with their distinctive blend of reggae and soul during a concert on Thursday night (March 8) at the German consul general’s residence.

The trio — reggae artist Mellow Mark, Mohammed Reda Djender and Mohammed Raafat — have a big following in their home country, and have taken their politically charged songs protesting war and social injustice on tour around the world, performing in countries including Thailand, Cuba, Russia, Morocco, Costa Rica, Senegal, Egypt, Iraq, South Africa and Serbia.

Their performance in Jeddah was their second in Saudi Arabia, following a well-received show at the Janadriyah festival in Riyadh two years ago.

With their gentle guitar sound and soulful singing, Mellow Maroc’s music really resonated with the crowd, combining reggae and soul that evoked joyful feelings and positive vibes throughout the show.

After the show, Djender highlighted the theme of social inclusiveness promoted by the band’s music.

“We are Germans but our drummer is originally from Egypt, I'm originally from Algeria, and our singer, Mark, is a Muslim,” he said. “The thing that joins us is the philosophy of being a German. Of being an open-minded free person working for one society, for one idea called Germany of today. This is the most important juice of our discourse. This is why we see Germany as a very tolerant Country today.”

German consul general Holger Ziegeler said he has been a fan of Mellow Maroc since seeing the band in Riyadh.

“In the true spirit of the close Saudi-German relations, I relate back to two years ago in 2016, when Germany was the selected as host country for the Janadriyah festival in Riyadh,” he said. “We showed that we are not only a country of people that work hard but also a country of people who love to play and love to have fun.

“Our theme for the festival was, ‘Germany: Land of Ideas’ and one of the cultural demonstrations that we had there was the group Mellow Maroc. When I heard them I said it’s not enough to just see them in Riyadh, I need to bring them to Jeddah as well because Jeddah is a place that is also very open to culture historically, and even more so now with the cultural development of Saudi Arabia through vision 2030.”

The formal nature of the evening on Thursday was offset by the casual, laid-back ambiance of the show, as a delighted crowd of distinguished guests was treated to a memorable and heartfelt performance from the band.

“My idea of serving here in Saudi Arabia is building bridges that people can walk in both directions, from Germany to Jeddah, and from Jeddah to Germany,” said Ziegeler.


Gosling goes behind the camera for DRCongo book

Updated 15 December 2018
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Gosling goes behind the camera for DRCongo book

  • The actor teamed up with the Enough Project, which aims to address mass atrocities in conflict hotspots
  • “Congo Stories” guides readers from pre-colonial days through Belgian rule to independence in 1960, and the current situation under President Joseph Kabila

WASHINGTON: Actor Ryan Gosling is best known for films as diverse as “La La Land” and “First Man” but he recently moved behind the lens for a passion project — taking photos in the crisis-hit Democratic Republic of Congo.
The 38-year-old Gosling, who is Canadian, is no stranger to advocacy in Africa — for a decade, he’s been working with the Enough Project, which aims to end mass atrocities in the continent’s conflict hotspots.
On the DRC, he teamed up with the Enough Project’s founding director John Prendergast and Congolese activist Fidel Bafilemba to draw attention to the brutal colonization of the central African country.
In “Congo Stories: Battling Five Centuries of Exploitation and Greed,” the pair unpack the tortuous history of the mineral-rich DRC and how its residents are looking to the future — with photos by Gosling.
“It was just this theme of an unwavering resilience and an unwillingness to be broken, and these expressions of hope,” the actor said at a book event on Thursday at George Washington University in the US capital.
“It is hope that is generated from people like Fidel and Chouchou,” the two-time Oscar nominee added, referring to journalist and rights activist Chouchou Namegabe, who also contributed to the project.
Following a trip to northern Uganda in 2008, Gosling and Prendergast decided to head to the eastern DRC in 2010, to travel alongside Bafilemba.
“At the time, Ryan was just taking photos like he was some guy who’d never been to a place before and wanted to document what he was seeing,” Prendergast told AFP in an interview.
After mulling over a second trip years later, the pair decided instead to take Gosling’s photos, Prendergast’s research and Bafilemba’s interviews with Congolese “upstanders” — in other words, primarily young citizens working toward change — to create the book.
“Congo Stories” guides readers from pre-colonial days through Belgian rule to independence in 1960, and the current situation under President Joseph Kabila — whose successor will be chosen December 23 in what is already proving a turbulent election.
It details everything from the sale of slaves to work on US plantations to the vast exploitation of the gutting of the country’s remarkable array of resources.
From rubber and ivory at the turn of the 20th century, to uranium to develop the atomic bomb, and now the “three Ts” — tin, tantalum and tungsten — vital to mobile phones and laptops or cobalt, which is key to electric car batteries.
Conflict persists notably in North Kivu province on DRC’s eastern border, which has been subject to waves of bloodshed involving militias, rebel groups and government forces for more than 20 years.
The country, also ravaged by sexual violence, has not known a peaceful transition of power since gaining independence.
For Prendergast, the book not only “calls for solidarity” with the DRC, but asks readers “to challenge... those economic arrangements that have led to this extraordinary situation of human suffering.”
Bafilemba said he would like to see Americans place more pressure on their lawmakers to act.
“They need to pressure the administration, their Congress, their Senate to hold Congolese corrupt leaders to account by keeping them... on sanctions lists, freezing their assets, banning their travels into this country,” he said.
Bafilemba also called upon US students to pressure their universities — big buyers of mineral-packed electronics — to source conflict-free products.
“I’m not asking you (for) your dollars. Just be demanding that your companies stop (what) they have been doing back in Africa, and particularly in Congo,” he added.