40 years of Africa Unite and more than 35 spent with Papa Nico on percussion.
Not only was Nico very kind to grant us an interview, but we also “disturbed” him while he was at rehearsal for the record. The“People Pie” we know, Africa‘s historic record, will have new life and new sounds, and the percussion will as always be Papa Nico‘s, the same percussion he took us to meet and introduce during our musical chat.


I have to say that many of the sounds of these instruments I had heard before, but never had I gotten so “into” the intent of this world, despite the fact that I have been listening to reggae for years, and that says a lot!, but thanks to Nico today I can put a “face” to it and associate many of these sounds with instruments such as the Guiro, the Cabasa, Agogo, Wah Wah tube and the Vibra Slap.

But listening to Nico in recounting part of his artistic career, how he went from being a drummer to becoming a percussionist, how Africa has and still is part of his family , was a real honor. His simplicity and friendliness attracts me even more to this reggae journey I have been on for years, it may be the music, it may be the vibe, or it may simply be him…who knows.


All I know is that I had the pleasure of meeting all the Africa, from Bunna a Madaski, from Pakko a Benz, to Alex Soresini, and as Papa…. says he took the Pinerolo-Kingston train with them years ago, but dear Nico even though I am not on the stage with you, I can assure you that I am on board!!!

AFRICA UNITED (from wikipedia)

1981-1990: Beginnings and first publications

Africa Unite was formed in 1981 as Africa United, the brainchild of Bunna and Madaski, both from Pinerolo, for a Bob Marley tribute night, with the lineup completed by drummer Ras Cal. Activity continued piecemeal, with only Bunna managing the unstable staff and Madaski engaged in post-punk area bands (Suicide Dada the main one), and in 1984 was documented by the four-piece demo Peace, Love, Freedom

. In 1986, with the return of Madaski, the group, supplemented by Ras Cal and bassist Mario “Doc”/”Mista Drake” Manduca, began to get serious, and in 1987 they self-produced under the Spliff A Dada label the mini-LP
; the title, meaning barbershop, takes its cue from a store sign in San Basile, a small town of origin
of the Cosenza area in which Africa United often performs.
. The album is inspired by Bob Marley ‘s reggae and also contains a song in Italian(Nella mia città); acclaim established the group on the Italian reggae circuit and led them to open U Roy‘s Roman concert.

In 1988 came the second self-produced mini-LP, Llaka, on the heels of its predecessor, dedicated to South African poet Benjamin Moloise[1]; in the ensemble, alongside Bunna, Madaski and Ras Cal, there are now bassist Ciro Cirri and percussionist Papa Nico, with backgrounds as a punk drummer in some Turin bands such as Rough e Blue Vomit. During this period, the band opens some Italian dates of King Sunny Adé and Linton Kwesi Johnson and plays in a concert in Padua for Amnesty International.

1991-1995: Reggae in the Italian language

The next work, People Pie, arrived in 1991 and increased the group’s success, offering a more refined sound open to other Caribbean influences[1]; on the record, the first with former Deafear and future leader of the Subsonica) Max Casacci, formerly an external collaborator, as guitarist, author and co-producer, and saxophonist Paul “The Angelo” Parpaglione, several drummers took turns including Sergio Pollone (aka Drummy Sir Jo), later a permanent member. In the same year, a busy schedule of performances, including the festival Arezzo Wave and a Negril, in Jamaica
, as an opener for Gregory Isaacs, led to a deal with the Milanese label Vox Pop and the 1992 release of the EP Cantè, the band’s debut with the name changed to Africa Unite

In 1993 it was the turn of.
Babylon and poetry
, the first album sung almost entirely in Italian, which was followed by concerts in France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the Babylon Festival in Iraq
. After the tour, bassist Cato(Gianluca Senatore) joined the band. In 1995, the song Il partigiano John was included in the compilation
Durable material
and then taken up on the album
A burning sun
. Take over on drums Davide Graziano, formerly in People Pie, and the band plays at the festival
Les Transmusicales
of Rennes. In 1996, following the tour later documented by the album
Live from the sun
(published by PolyGram), Casacci abandoned the lineup.

1996-2010: From The Game to Roots

In 1997 he released.
The Game
, with new guitarist Ru Catania; the record was followed by numerous concerts, including one at the fourth edition of the Rototom Sunsplash festival. A trombonist, Gigi De Gaspari aka Mr. T-bone, joins the group, and in 2000 the following was released.

. At that time Africa Unite were active against the death penalty, and included on the album an outspoken song entitled Under Pressure, the video for which was filmed in collaboration with the humanitarian associations Amnesty International, Comunità di Sant’Egidio and Nessuno Tocchi Caino. In 2001, the following was released.
, an album dedicated to Bob Marley on the 20th anniversary of his death. Later, Kikke on Keyboard and Paolo Baldini of B.R. Stylers on bass joined the group to replace Cato. With these new members the band made two new albums,
While it’s raining outside
in 2003 and

Nel 2010 esce Rootz, definito dal gruppo stesso il disco “del ritorno alle origini”, per le sonorità roots reggae nonché i testi di denuncia (Political reggae), realizzato con la collaborazione di diversi artisti, tra cui Alborosie, Franziska, Mama Marjas, Mellow Mood e Patrick Benifei dei Casino Royale. Also in the same year, Ale Soresini, former drummer of Reggae National Tickets, conflated in the group to replace Davide Graziano.


In 2011, the band celebrated its 30-year career, celebrated with the autobiographical book Thirty years in upbeat. History of the history of Africa Unite (Chinaski Editions) signed by Bunna and Madaski and with a European tour; including dates in Berlin, Brussels, London, The Hague, Dublin, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and the final one in Lugano, in which the departure from the band of guitarist Ru Catania was announced.

2013 marks the 20th anniversary of
Babylon and poetry
and for this important anniversary, Africa Unite will, in April, take that record on tour with the same lineup as at the time
. The following month they participate in the May Day concert in Rome

In 2015 il punto di partenza was released, a totally self-produced album and distributed in free download on the band’s website