Garifuna Parandero Paul Nabor: “No regrets”
My 2009 Q&A with Paul Nabor
Adele: Paul Nabor
Nabi: My sister, what can I do for you?
Adele: The most famous. How long have you been singing?
Nabi: Well I started to sing when I was 18 years old, and now I am 81—I am still singing. Thank the good Lord for it.
Adele: You’re well known for Paranda, but when you started was it Paranda that you sang?
Adele: That has always been your thing?
Adele: And they call you the Parandero.
Adele: You write your own songs.
Nabi: My own songs. I made them, and I played [the guitar] and I made people dance to them. I am happy with my movement, but now I am going to stop because I am 81.
Adele: You can’t just stop.
Nabi: Yeah, I going to stop. It’s time.
Adele: So what are you going to do when you stop?
Nabi: Well, I am going to make little farm for myself. And if I can go and catch a little fish I will go. And then I will relax. It’s time to rest.
The last trip that I made with Andy Palacio to Malaysia, I told them I am not going to back no more. Useless they tell me lets go, because I am not going back, because I am the one that’s feeling the pressure out there.
Adele: What kind of pressure?
Nabi: The pressure is the cold. I tell you, that cold does not belong to us. We are born here. This place is warm, that place is cold.
Adele: So 18 to 81, that’s about 63 years. 63 years you’ve been singing. Tell me about yourself, you were born in PG?
Nabi: I was born there. After I reached 18 years old, I left PG and I went to the Guatemala side, and I started to travel about – Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua. Then I came back. When I came back, I got a break to go to France. When I came back from France, I got a break to go to America. Then I came back, I got a break to go to Germany. From Germany I went to Italy, from Italy I went to Rome, from Rome I went to Spain, from Spain I went to Malaysia, and that’s the end of my trip.
Adele: So you’ve traveled the world!
Nabi: All the world.
Adele: What was that experience like for you? Apart from not liking the cold, what about the other parts of the experience?
Nabi: Well I love the places but I mean it’s useless, because I can’t face the cold there.
Adele: How do the people treat you?
Nabi: They treat you fine. Everybody is happy with my voice. And I am happy with them too.
Adele: Do you feel satisfied about your career?
Nabi: That’s right. I am satisfied.
Adele: Is there anything that you would have liked to do over the past six decades that you didn’t get to do or you got to do everything that you wanted?
Nabi: I had to do everything. You know I used to play football and I used to box? I used to handle my hand and handle my foot. But I am told it’s not time for me to do it now. The time has passed. I have to leave these for the young children. And who takes it up, it is good for them, because I have been eating my piece of bread from 18 years old, until right now – I am 81.
If I am able to make 82, I will take it, because we don’t know our life. Only one man knows our life. It’s Jesus Christ. If he says it’s time to go, you can’t say I wanted one more year.
Adele: Anything that you regret having not been able to do?
Nabi: I didn’t have any such experience, feeling sorry for not being able to do something. No regrets, when I decide to do something, I will do it, because God gives me strength to do it. But if God says you will not do something, he will not give me strength. But I do everything I feel like doing in the world.
Adele: You’re happy with the way the young generation is picking up the music?
Nabi: Well, I am happy with them, but I am not happy with the dancing that the youth are doing. This dancing that they are doing now is not no dancing – vulgar dancing. They are jumping all about; they are dancing like cows. That is not dancing. And people don’t dress up like one time.
Adele: Any old thing goes…
Nabi: When they used to have dance you had to dress up, stop make yourself ragged, and you had to dance a decent way. Not this jumping around. I don’t even go to watch the dancing.
Adele: So after this, it’s no more albums, no more performances? It’s retirement for you?
Nabi: No more, no more.
Adele: You’re out of The Garifuna Collective?
Nabi: I’m not out there but I am not going there again…I tell them I am not going to be with them. I am the one that’s feeling my body. Maybe I look strong, but the body is not there. The mind can be strong, but your body is weak.
Adele: But you don’t have any major illness or anything like that. You just said you’re in reasonable health? It’s time for you to relax now.
Nabi: Yes. If I can sit down and smoke my cigar, play my guitar, it’s better for me…I am not waiting for anything good; I am waiting for my death.
Adele: Any message to the younger generation?
Nabi: Well I must tell them to try and keep up the culture. When I look into myself—I have some songs in my head but I don’t want to put them out.
Adele: Since you’re retiring now, will you write down some of those songs?
Nabi: I won’t. I don’t write any of my songs down. Everything is out of my head.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009 — At KREM’s 20th Anniversary Celebrations, Partridge Street, Belize City