Bibi Tanga is the lead singer of the group, Bibi Tanga and the Selenites. The French-based band was in California for a series of performances. I caught up with Bibi a day before their set at "Grand Performances" in Downtown Los Angeles.
We talked about a range of subjects including palm wine, his penchant for partying, the meaning behind the title of the band's latest album ("40 Degrees of Sunshine"), and his full name, Bienvenue Tanga. The first name is from France, where he was raised; last name comes from the Central African Republic, where he was born. The meaning of those two names combined struck me as profound. He reveals the meaning behind his last name during this podcast, so keep listening!
I was really moved by the story and meaning of Tanga's name, partly because it speaks to how important names are in African cultures. As a result many Africans have many names, myself included. I used to be frustrated by that, but now, I see how each of my names reveals part of my experience, and I'm proud of that. There's my African "day" name, and the first name I ever knew and the name I feel most at home in: Ama. It's given to a girl born on Saturday. Then there's my Christian name, the one I didn't know I had until my first day of school at age five: Christabel. I have two middle names because I grew up Catholic: Natalie and Bridget. That's four names before I've even reached my last name: Nsiah-Buadi, which is now my maiden name. All of my African names (including my last name) were given to me, or an ancestor for a specific reason. Naming is not a random act in the African and Diaspora experience. How you use them can reveal how much of yourself you want to reveal to the world -- or how much of yourself you think the outside world will accept.
As for the man who started me off on that train of thought, Bibi Tanga, I have to say, it was a real pleasure talking to him. Here is my profile of Bibi Tanga, complete with cuts from his band's latest album, "40 Degrees of Sunshine," which is out now, on NatGeo music.