During the Colonial era, cinematic images of Africa and its people were entirely the work of Western filmmakers. The Tarzan movies, African Queen, King Solomon's Mines and others were usually filmed on soundstages half a world away from Africa and made little to no effort toward authenticity, instead trading in exoticism aimed primarily at exploiting Western tastes.
Senegal gained its independence from France in 1960. Like most West African countries, Senegal is highly diverse. The Wolof, Peul, Halpulaaren, Serer, Lebou, Jola, Mandinka, Moors, Soninke and Bassari are all long established in the country. There are also substantial populations of French, Mauritanians, Lebanese and Vietnamese. Three years after independence, the first Senegalese film was made by Ousmane Sembene titled L'empire sonhrai, which would set the standards for a uniquely African cinematic language that would establish Senegal as the capital of African Cinema.
Any longtime Bay Area music fan knew and loved the long gone Berkeley record store Leopold Records (circa '68 - '96), which used to be located at 2518 Durant in the block above Telegraph Ave. and down from Bowditch Street. Back in the day you could go spend lots of time (and money) as the hours slipped past and you got lost digging in their never-ending rows of music, invariably getting assistance along the way from the store's dedicated staff, who really knew their stuff and were more than happy to share that musical knowledge.
At one point, Oakland emcee Del tha Funkee Homosapien even worked at Leopold! The store, for Bay Area rap fans, was the number one destination when you wanted to get the latest hip-hop releases. The store also had many artists stop by, including MC Lyte (pictured above) and Saafir, who once did an in-store (well, technically an out-store, since it was right outside the building) at Leopold. (See video clip in the second part of this two-part Leopold Records' Amoeblog.) Scroll down below to see Joan Baez at a Leopold instore performance from 1993, singing a version of "Don't Think Twice It's Alright" that includes, much to the crowd's delight, a spot-on imitation of Bob Dylan. Michael Jackson even did made an appearance at Leopold's back in his heyday.
Leopold's many former employees went on to other music industry positions: former rap buyer Daria Kelly now works at Six Degrees Records in San Francisco. Read her Amoeblog interview recalling Leopold Records' role in the hip-hop community in Part II of this Amoeblog remembering Leopold's.
Many Amoeba Music employees also worked at Leopold's and consequently, it seems, have carried over that tradition of truly caring about the business that they are in. Amoeba Music's Karen P (in pics both above & below) is one of those people who used to be a part of Leopold's. I recently asked her if she thought there was a connection between her old place of employment and Amoeba Music. She replied: "Yes, there definitely is a connection, both philosophically and in spirit. Part of it might be that much of the beginning (and even current) Amoeba staff started at Leopold's." Karen listed some of those individuals as Mark Beaver (in B&W picture below), Craig Bishop, Lisa Loomis, Stacy Young, Roxanne (in MC Lyte pic), Barbara Ballesteros, and Lynne Brady. (Read Amoebite Lynne Brady's wonderful stream-of-consciousness rap recollections of Leopold in Part II of this Amoeblog -- to be posted tomorrow, Friday.)