08-11-2019 by Freddie del Curatolo
"We have to do that thing in Swahili, and we give the proceeds to the children of Malindi."
Fred Bongusto's most beautiful memories date back to thirteen years ago, on the beach of the Oasis, the current Ocean Beach Resort in Malindi.
"We're both called Alfredo - he was joking - but I'm terrone and you're African. But we both sing, we like to eat and drink and we have a big heart.
For a whole holiday, the great singer (he did...) from Campobasso who died yesterday at 84 years after a long illness, was at my place every day. A focaccia, a salad but without spaghetti and chicken as in one of his famous songs, and the idea of singing in pairs "Una rotonda sul mare" translated into kiswahili.
"Fred & Freddie in Moja roundabout baharini".
"But are you sure they say "roundabout" in African too?"
The author of "My Summer with You" and other big hits was in Kenya to perform at the Malindi Casino for New Year's Eve, but his vacation lasted a few more weeks.
"This place is magical, it tempers me...I could come here in winter and spend the summer in the villa on Capri. Come and see me, we'll carve that thing..."
Fred fell in love with Malindi and his wild side. One of his "musts" was the walk with the maasai that accompanied tourists to the Sabaki River. But he would stop on the dunes next to the Oasis and meditate. One day he also brought his guitar and began to compose ... came out melodies contaminated by the new experience.
"It could be the beginning of a new album - he told me - organize a photo shoot with the maasai, which maybe I use for the cover". And so it was, while he alternated the quiet life of the beach and the focaccia with a thousand stories and anecdotes about his golden years, about Mina, Peppino Di Capri, Califano, La Bussola, with visits to orphanages, parishes lost in the savannah and looking for a villa with swimming pool by the sea.
Then nothing happened, he returned once again and since then, even in Italy, only a short public appearance and the definitive withdrawal from the scene. In silence, as perhaps it was right that his velvety, confidential, refined voice should conclude the show that was his career.
Today there is no "our record playing" and you are not here with me, but our malindine chats, like your songs, will remain in the air of Malindi forever.
by Freddie del Curatolo
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