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HOW I FOUND DUENDE IN RABAT

1.

During 9/11, I was in Salamanca with two friends. The day Geert Wilders managed to gather 37 seats (thank you VVD and normalising media), I was in Rabat, attending the Visa for Music music conference, with which the European Jazz Network (one of the best-functioning networks within European cultural funding, I say as new kid in town in that company) has for the first time, in connection with Visa for Music's 10th anniversary, established a collaboration. Quite simply, the aim is: more cultural exchanges in the form of concerts, from Africa to Europe and vice versa. There is a good company 'seasoned' programmers who can shape such quite easily, so I am optimistic.

2.

An inspiring example came today from one of North Sea Jazz Festival's programmers, who told of how he was approached by a booker of Hindustani-Surinamese origin, who suggested him to make a creation for North Sea Jazz as part of the activities around 150 years of Abolition of Slavery in the Netherlands. Very specifically, he involved today's Surinamese, Antillean and Indonesian communities in this project and it was a resounding success this summer at NSJ.

3.

Whether Geert Wilders is a fascist at heart, I am not even convinced of that. He rather reminds me of Mickey Mouse in the basement of the film Fantasia (1940) as a sorcerer's apprentice, beyond control of what he has woken up to. Also, I am not yet to the point of erasing everyone who voted for PVV from my ballbook as a Nazi - I rather think the VVD and the normalising media are guilty in this story.

Blame the foreigner is one of the oldest tricks in the political handbook, the current housing crisis comes more from VVD-approved cheap migrant workers and especially the huge stock of prime social housing that has been sold to foreign wealth funds under VVD's jubilant leadership.

The PVV is reaping the fruits of decades of pernicious neoliberal VVD policies in all areas of life. Which privatisation did succeed again? But when I read what the PVV has in its programme (forget for a moment its charm offensive of the last few days and read its programme), I fear the worst for my former homeland. By the way, I fear for a moment that there will be a lot of dubious types in Belgium very excited about this landslide victory of Wilders cs.

4.

After the showcases, I ended up tonight seul in an authentic flamenco house, with a truly wonderful audience - all mestizo. Young, old, Spanish, Moroccan, 'West African', international, V/M/X. There was smoking, very refined hand clapping, guitars were handed from the audience, the singer on duty was not very good at reaching the highest note, but did con mucho duende - and as a non-smoker who hates the blue-smoked establishments of yesteryear, I was moved by this company and the ambience. And then suddenly they play a flamenco version of Historia de un Amor, which I know in Eydie Gormé's (Sephardic Jewish/New York) version.

I immediately thought of a legendary North Sea Jazz edition, still in The Hague, with two friends from Utrecht, when we had ended up in a hotel near Holland Spoor because of the price - it took us a while to realise why the ceilings had mirrors and all the lights were red. There, we decided to share a round of personal classics until dawn and sang along loudly (and primly) with Eydie.

I also called my Aruban-Chinese father that night, who was very amused by this unexpected rapprochement from his son. I knew he also adores this bolero - he thought she was Turkish, but she's from the Bronx! My father and I are like Antique Egyptian sphinxes to each other, with here and there a moment of true understanding.

5.

In short: I had it too bad for a while, in Casa José, Rabat. I have, nota bene, had a good friend for many years who brings artistic flamenco to the Netherlands at the very highest level, but flamenco really only touches me deeply when it itself enters into a new hybrid, like with Pakistani singer Faiz Ali Faiz during the first Flamenco Biennale, or in that amazing hardcore salsa classic by Jose Mangual Jr, Gitana (muchos gracias Mauri!).

Tonight in Rabat, flamenco entered my soul by a highway: no matter how you look at it, it is hybrid culture, the fantastic confluence, the unique culture of the eternal outsider, from Rajasthan through North Africa and Eastern Europe to deep in Spain - view Latcho Drom (1993, Algerian director Tony Gatlif's best film), and you feel what I mean here. There is so much in it, and it resonates directly with the audience that comes to this in Rabat. This goes as loud as screaming vocals and snarling strings to the subtlest of wrist bends and approving chants in the audience. A bipolar delight, experiencing this vibe while simultaneously being reminded of my poor, poor homeland plunged into a moral ravine.

6.

What inspires Dutch people to give a vote to PVV I cannot interpret other than a deep fear of the future. Now yes, and mass hysteria, whipped up by those fucking companies from California, which mainly present the user with the riot down to his or her pocket, rather than the nuance. Plus some Dutch media out of equally deep fear again to miss the boat (like when Fortuyn's rocket-like rise to power) have started playing a hideous populist crank tune. I would love those PVV voters to read the UK reports what good the Brexit did to the British people (Nexit is integral to the PVV plans).

7.

The idyll presented by PVV and related parties is an idyll. I do not actually expect a Fortuyn operetta 2.0, Wilders is far too experienced for that. I do expect chaos and stagnation and a trench war in The Hague that will lead to nothing, or at most even more mutual distrust and a fatal delay in much-needed measures to benefit the environment. But the democrat in me says: the ballot box has spoken, let the PVV prove how right they are for the Netherlands.

The alternative, a minority cabinet without PVV - here I imagine that Wilders will then only need one tweet to have the scum march to the Binnenhof with burning torch and gallows in hand. This is and remains the country of the De Witt brothers, Van Oldenbarnevelt and 60,000 deported Jews from Amsterdam (102,000 from the Netherlands).

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Jaïr Tchong

Formerly cultural journalist and music programmer (Tolhuistuin, Melkweg) in the Netherlands. Since 1 December 2019, music programmer for arts centre KAAP. KAAP organises two annual collaborations in Bruges and Ostend. In Ostend in its own venue by the sea, in Bruges nomadically throughout the city and with partners such as Concertgebouw Brugge, Cactus, CC Brugge and De Republiek. KAAP also organises festivals: Push the Button, Dansand, Jazz Brugge and AMOK.View Author posts

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