Harry Belafonte – singer, civil rights campaigner and actor has died

Yusuf Bangura (Switzerland): Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 April 2023:

Sad to learn about the death on 25 April of Harry Belafonte, the legendary calypso singer, actor and social activist who brought much happiness and hope to many people around the world.

His big hit singles ‘The banana boat song’ (Day O), ‘Farewell to Jamaica’, ‘Jump in the line’ and ´Mary’s boy child’ will live in the memory forever. It’s always a joy to listen to his clean, sweet and melodic voice.

His music was appreciated by all demographic groups when he was at the peak of his career. I must have been six or eight years when ´the banana boat song’ became popular in Sierra Leone.

My father had a gramophone and a set of heavy vinyl records, including ´the banana boat song’, which he played every weekend. I also recall watching the film Calypso, inspired by Belafonte, at Odeon cinema in Freetown in the 1960s.

There was a cockfight in the film, which amused the audience. In those days, audiences in cinema halls were active participants—offering loud commentary, taking sides, and even anticipating outcomes.

There was complete silence when one of the cocks was killed in the fight as we all felt sorry for it. Then someone who was sitting next to us broke the silence by reminding everyone in Themneh that cocks were killed every day on the streets, but nobody cared.

Translated into Krio, this is what he said: ‘bo una lef wi; den fol ya wey den de kil nar trit evri day nar in una de sori for’? There was an eruption of laughter from many in the audience who understood what he said.

Harry Belafonte’s memory lives on. May he rest in eternal peace.

You can read more about Harry’s sad passing here: https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-11811290


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