South African Township Homegrown Artists: Township-Style Sounds: African Cultural-Musical Echoes & Polyrhythmic Licks
The Music And Sound Of The People
Kasi (Township) Flavor
African Music, the music of the indigenous peoples of Africa. Sub-Saharan African music has as its distinguishing feature a rhythmic complexity common to no other region. Polyrhythmic counterpoint, wherein two or more locally independent attack patterns are superimposed, is realized by handclaps, xylophones, rattles, and a variety of tuned and non-tuned drums. The remarkable aspect of African polyrhythm is the discernible coherence of the resultant rhythmic pattern.
Pitch polyphony exists in the form of parallel intervals (generally thirds, fourths, and fifths), overlapping choral antiphony and solo-choral response, and occasional simultaneous independent melodies. In addition to voice, many wind and string instruments perform melodic functions. Common are bamboo flutes, ivory trumpets, and the one-string ground bow, which uses a hole in the ground as a resonator.
During colonial times, European instruments such as saxophones, trumpets, and guitars were adopted by many African musicians; their sounds were integrated into the traditional patterns. Scale systems vary between regions but are generally diatonic.
Music is highly functional in ethnic life, accompanying birth, marriage, hunting, and even political activities. Much music exists solely for entertainment, ranging from narrative songs to highly stylized musical theater. Similarities with other cultures, particularly Indian and Middle Eastern, can be ascribed primarily to the Islamic invasion (7th-11th cent).
South African Music Musings
A lot of articles and some couple books have been written about the Music of Africans in South Africa. It has been given all types of names, to try to suture it into a convenient genre. Like, Bubble Gum, World Music, African Music, Mbaqanga, and so forth. Some have even gone to the extent of noting that it was influenced by Disco music. One of my favorite writers on the music of South Africans is David Coplan. Adding to what I was talking about above he states:
"The social history of urban Black(African) performing arts is an account of the development and relationship of styles. The phrase 'performing arts may in turn require an explanation. I say it because it best reflects the nature of Black (African-musical?) expression in South Africa, which cannot be divided realistically into Western categories of music, dance or drama.
"These categories are not only foreign to Africa: they fail to recognize the close integration of song, lyric, tone, rhythm, movement, rhetoric and drama. I use the term 'performance culture' as well, to represent a crucial conjunction between performance and everything that immediately supports it - a social cross-roads of performers, participants, styles, categories, materials, and occasions of performance.
"These workers who had been drawn form the different regions into what came to be called Townships(Ghettoes) or as Coplan states: "a proletarian majority among the permanent Black(African) townsmen(township dwellers, to be more precise), lived by their wits in the shadows and shanties of the mushrooming Locations(Townships), creating hybrid styles of cultural(mixed and elaborated differentiated cultural sounds) that shaped Black (African) music and drama."
Performance became key for musicians in South Africa because of the hurdles that were foisted upon them by Apartheid and British 'separate development,' which mean one and same thing for Africans.
Africans in South Africa were exposed to performance traditions from all over the subcontinent and the world beyond. Some brought their rural culture to life in the diamonds compounds and barracks. Others, mission school educated(Like Hugh Masekela) and others), became the Black (African elite and adopted European and Afro-American culture to their social needs.
The proletarian majority, mission graduates and migrant workers, professional Black(African) performers, itinerant artistic entrepreneurs, people from the rural and farm areas blended them together and brought new African urban influences and brought these new urban influences into the changing musical landscape and changing performance culture of the Townships and countryside.
What we see today as music of Africans in South Africa, comes from the 1920s-30s, where the churches, schools, clubs, drinking houses(called Shebeens,now changed to Taverns, parties, weddings, dance halls) and in the process they were evolving and producing generations of performance musical professionals.
Versatile musicians absorbed almost anything, played for almost everyone, and gave birth to an authentically South African Jazz, Mbaqanga, Marabi Funk and Spunk. Singers, dancers, and comic actors drew on local African lore and traditions, Africa as a whole contributions, and American vaudeville thus creating these specific musical genres local theater. Class formation in a segregated society, with its associated symbols of status and cultural identity, made the relationships between performers and audiences, styles and occasions/performances increasingly complex.
In this Hub I will be showcasing various musical videos of the Music of South Africans as listened to Africans in various settings of their day-to-day lives.
If one were to read the posts from those who have listened to these videos, one can a sense how powerful this music is. As I have said, the impact and interpretation of the Music of Africans in South Africa, is best illustrated by the videos that will be posted here, and I hope the reader/listener will appreciate the variety and depth of the Music of Africans of South Africa. The purpose of this Hub is to present more of the music of Africans in South Africa in its beauty, rhythm, Funk and Spunk.
The music of Africans in South Africa as presented here along with the artists whose videos one will be listening to, should be seen in the background and hardships that were imposed by the Apartheid government, its recording companies and radio stations. Every conceivable obstacle was placed in the path of the growth and development of this music by the Apartheid's "cultural war" on Africans.
We know that there was a cultural, political, social and economic war and impediments that were placed to prohibit Africans' Humanity, evolution and development by Apartheid. But, as we can see and listen to the music emanating from that era, one can see the resilience, strength and determination of a people, who, with everything thrown against them(alcohol and poverty, etc.) being the modus operandi and mainstay of Apartheid rule, the Africans of South Africa proved that they can do better, are better.
And there is a promise today that they will still be producing these golden musical nuggets for the enjoyment of their people and the world into the foreseeable future. Most of the artist here have passed on, but their music still lives on in the hearts and minds of the Poor and all types of Africans of any stature in South Africa and Africa, and the world as a whole.
I end the video selections for this Hub with Brenda Fasie and Lucky Dube, who (Brenda) is one of the most famous, well-loved and very much liked artist in South Africa. I would like to dedicate a Hub to her and her music in the future, because she really captured the essence of Township vibes and personified the Township (Kasi) Funk and Spunk like no other.
Her lyrics and the music are a reflection of the life, times, pains, wishes, hopes, failures and successes and all that the people of the Townships have had to go through. Even today, in the Townships (Kasies'), when someone blasts their car stereo or House stereo in any occasion, or gathering, the response of the people there is to do what all African South African do, when they hear their favorite music and artists: DANCE. Rest in Peace "Mabbrr.. (as she was affectionatley called by everyone and her fans).
I am writing about the music of South Africans from the perspective and appreciation that is found amongst the Africans of South Africa. It is important to do this because, nowadays, when everyone who is anyone and is not from South Africa writes about the music and the people of South Africa. Well, this Hub is written from the point of view of the Africans of South Africa and the ways and means through which they enjoy and appreciate their music. Some of the artists presented here in this Hub are well know, and some are not.
As I will be writing Hubs about the Music of South Africa, some artist will be unknown to the world, but they are famous and much appreciated in South Africa, from the past, to date. I have already written a Hub called "The Music of The People: Africans in south Africa and their musical Sound Systems"; I also covered a little about the music of Africans in South Africa in one of my Hubs called, "Music is the Soundtrack Of Our Lives: Breaking an Breaching The Musical Sound Barrier."
As I have noted above, I will be writing and posting now more of the music and sounds of South Africa, and this particular Hub about Township Funk and Spunk, wherein I have now begun to post the music on video alongside the history an evolution of music in South Africa, and is my hope that it edifies the claim I made that this will be written form the perspective of Africans in South Africa and how they "Appreciate" their musical forms, performances and style.
The struggle for 'cultural autonomy' goes on in urban African South Africa. In Soweto and other Townships around South Africa the music that has been presented above have found its place and is still growing and developing throughout the country-post Apartheid and the world-which with its vicious 'cultural war' (Apartheid) it had waged against Africans in South Africa, had managed to short-circuit African cultural growth, expansion and expression.
The music was continuing then under those harsh repressive conditions, and even today, it promises to develop in leaps and bounds. Even when the Apartheid government and their White entertainment industry remained(during apartheid) even today, they are still the powerful forces to contend with, and in the performing arts of the Africans of South Africa continue to play an active role in the evolution of African identity and the internal definition of African musical aspirations within South Africa.
It is Hubs like these that will and are hard-pressed to present a sane musical society history and discourse that is demonstrated by the videos posted herein, to begin to give recognition, respect and awareness(both locally and in Africa) along with the World as a whole. You can also check most of this music posted in this Hub on my Internet Radio Station at this link: live365.com/stations/djtot12/ and the name of the Station is called FASTTRACKS.
Stimela's "Whispers In The Deep"
Focus: Music of South Africa, 2nd Edition (Focus on World Music Series) [Paperback] Carol A. Muller
Despite efforts to expropriate African performance culture, and to use it to impose an Apartheid version of African Identity, there were ways of resisting. Many of South Africa's most popular progressive groups and artists, like the "Stimela" (Posted above in Live in Concert)," "Juluka", and the African rock rock group, "Harari", began with independent Black(African) producers and resisted signing with major studios unless they were given full control of their music.
Many groups continued to produce political, socially relevant, authentic Township music even though, during Apartheid it was never really played on Radio. But the listeners brought the music, mostly on vinyl during those days, and kept the groups in the forefront of musical appreciation and performance.
The reader and music lovers of South African music should pay attention to and recognize the importance of this musical form as well as lyrical content(spiced with "Kasie Slang" (Township Slang) and English and local African languages, along with the cultural politics of African South Africans music. Songs whose lyrics have little explicit political reference at times communicate a sense of cultural pride and creative development vital to African identity formation and African political consciousness.
The groups or artists that exemplify that these trends are "Philip Tabane and his Malombo Jazzmen", "Harari", "Sakhile" and "Batsumi" who were banned during the apartheid era, and many others which might be explored and exposed in a subsequent Hub to this one. Also presented here are the groups and artists like"Amampondo". "Hugh Masekela", "Miriam Makeba", "Juluka", Winston Mankunku Ngozi and Sipho Mabuse of Harari, Brenda Fasie, Amampondo, Lucky Dube, all in Video mode where one exists, plus, added to that, is a short history of the groups and artists and a very short history of how and for whom this musicians performed.
I hate Telling A Lie - By the Group "Stimela"
South African Music: A Century of Traditions in Transformation (World Music (ABC-Clio)) Hardcover by Carol A. Muller & Michael B. Bakan
From an African cultural and traditional perspective, for the time that Africans have spent now living in the Townships the evolution and morphing of different cultural sound of Africa, with an accommodation for the International listening public(songs sung in english, of course in African languages) one can begin to note the evolution and growth that the Music of the Townships have undergone, as one listens to Stimela's selection above.
Stimela is one of the most enduring and popular groups that is loved throughout all the different Townships and rural areas by Africans. Because no article of this type as the one I am writing have been attempted before, and this Hub will be about those songs that are loved by and are popular with the masses of Africans of South Africa.
I usually write about politics, music, art, sports(where possible), and use a lot of pictures in the Photo Gallery to illustrate my point. But in this Hub, I am more interested in exposing and putting into the Global viral front the music that few people get to hear from South Africa. I will indulge some more with Stimela's Live take performed by Ray Phiri(the leader) and Stimela - Fire Passion and Ecstasy.
Below we present 'Thiba Kamoo' (Dinyonyana Di a baleha) ((Block The Other Side Because The Birds(Dinyonyna) are escaping or flying away). Sipho Mabuse, who belonged to the famed and well-known African Funk group, "Harari", has updated and revamped this song originally sung and played by "Harari" (Thiba Kamoo-'Block The Other Side), and made it into an energetic and explosive video below.
Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse, co-founder and member of the Group "Harari - "Thiba Kamoo"
Sound of Africa: Making Music Zulu in a South African Studio Paperback by Louise Meintjes
Africans in South Africa have created genuine communities and the Apartheid regime continuously knocked down these enclaves. According to Copland: "Groups tend to be multi-ethnic, reflecting the blending of various local African musical tradition in the urban areas over the many decades, as producers' efforts to find musical 'common denominators' among the heterogeneous urban Township audience along with rural music lovers.
"Vocalist(in the Mbaqanga genre and other township vibes in different groups or artists, are kept as a unit for all performances. Instrumentalists, on the other hand, are used independently according to the demands of a particular recording or live show.
"The months of practice that go into the most polished acts encourage producers to keep groups together, particularly once they become popular and recognizable to the public. These are groups like "Jabu Khanyile and Bayete"; "Skakhile"; "Harari", "Philip Tabane and the Malombo Jazz Men"; "Batsumi". Below is the sample sound of Jabu Khanyile and Bayete:
More than two decades ago, 'Sakhile' made its debut in the community halls and theaters of South Africa. A fountain of creativity during a time of repression and cultural stagnation, Sakhile fed ears and minds of a hungry and depressed African nation. Innovation in genre, as much as musicianship, Sakhile as a collective carried the burden of being ahead in that moment. It was a passionate cultural mission, rather than commercial acclaim which propelled Sakhile through the 1980s.
Sakhile (meaning "We Have Built") laid foundations at a time when so much else needed construction in South Africa. They textured a sound which defied the condescending categories legislated by Apartheid and its broadcasters: Proudly African, unashamedly traditional, and uncompromisingly electric. The released albums in 1982 and 1984, but with limited radio air-play and support, the opted for live acts which primarily benefitted and blessed the African Fans that they had unfiltered Music belted out by Sakhile, (Listen to their video in the video sets) who played in political rallies and schools, and tasted teargas and tears).
Through their own music, and also through onstage reference to then-exiled artists such as Johnny Dyani, Hugh Masekela and Caiphus Semenya, Sakhile nudged audiences to make the links, discover and harvest a heritage that had been concealed.
The group kept close contact with the exiled musicians, and by the late 1980s, collaborations with both Masekela and Semenya were routine. Sakhile toured extensively in Europe, Scandinavia, Africa and the USSR, and recorded a third album. In 1990 they served as a core musical group for South African performers at the Wembley Mandela Tribute; and, in 1992, they featured at the Montreux Jazz festival as part of a Quincy Jones Showcase.
Group members evolved through the years, making Sakhile the alma mater of many of South Africa's finest instrumentalists. Sipho Gumede, Khaya Mahlangu, Menayatso Mathole and Mabi Thobejane are individually acclaimed artists.But now stand together as original members of a defining group. The name and spirit "Sakhile" is indeed apart of South Africa which has been built against so many odds. With "Togetherness," Sakhile offered their debut recording made in a "free" South Africa.
The music of Sakhile and this track is called "Sakhile"(We have built-"Sakhile" - here)
Jabu Khanyile - "Zulu Man In London"
Hip Hop Africa: New African Music in a Globalizing World (African Expressive Cultures) Paperback by Eric Charry
The Video of Jabu Khanyile is followed-up by the sample video of the group "Sakhile": This Jazz riff but Township vibe is one of the many groups and artists who made their mark and impression in the psyche, consciousness and lives of Africa South Africa's during the apartheid era.
Recorded in 1974 in Soweto, this is an intriguing, rousing reminder of the inventive styles that flourished in apartheid-era South Africa, but never came to the notice of the outside world. Batsumi were an Afro-jazz outfit led by a blind guitarist, Johnny Mothopeng, along with his keyboard-playing brother Lancelot and bassist Zulu Bidi. They worked in the sprawling Johannesburg township in the early 70s, and their debut album has been unobtainable for decades.
Remastered from the original tapes, and best played very loud, it's a vibrant, energetic workout in which slinky, repeated riffs are matched against wailing, sometimes psychedelic effects, with saxophone and flute solos added. There are five lengthy tracks here, and they range from the opening Lishonile, in which hypnotic, repeated phrases and solos give way after nine minutes to equally furious chanting, and the cool Anishilabi, in which a classy keyboard workout and bass solo ease into a cool, loping riff. An obscure African recording, maybe, but this is still great dance music.
Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop [Paperback] Guthrie P. Ramsey
South Africa’s 1970s are rightly remembered as a time of rising militancy. From the universities to the docks to the schools–the decade saw the rise of Black Consciousness and Steve Biko’s calls for a radical reorientation of black culture towards the struggle for political and mental liberation. We curate our memorials to that decade with raised right fists and confrontations between uniformed students and uniformed police.
But by choosing to title his column in the, SASO Newsletter, “I Write What I Like,” Biko called above all else for unapologetically creative responses to the tensions of the moment. Black South Africans answered this call in a variety of ways, some stridently political, others defiantly original. Oswald Mtshali, Mongani, Wally Serote and others answered his call in words; Dan Rakgoathe, Winston Saoli, Louis Maqhubela and others on canvas. Batsumi answered with a cascade of sound.
Founded in Soweto in 1972, in 1974 Batsumi recorded an album that will be re-released later this week by Matsuli Music. The music is stunning, from the moment the album opens with Zulu Bidi's searching bass, and expands to include horns, flute, what sounds like a didgeridoo, drums, voices and Johnny Mothopeng’s guitar.
This is the past, reaching out to the present to remind us that we still don’t understand. Today Biko and Black Consciousness’s legacy as a political movement is contested and debated, invoked across the political spectrum and twisted to fit present-day concerns. But Batsumi is closer to the truth of that moment.
This music doesn’t preach, it doesn’t declaim, it doesn’t sloganize — but it also doesn’t offer flee from the radical demands of its present. Indeed, although these tracks are not stridently political they are by no means escapist fare, suitable for shuffling dance steps at late night shebeens. Take the third track, “Mamshanyana.”It opens with Mothopeng’s acoustic guitar, the spare, patient twang of which could not be more different from the township jazz sounds we associate with this time period.
(The amazing quality of this remaster is most apparent here, incidentally — you can literally hear the subtle reverb of the strings.) Drums, bass and organ, join, come together, voices crest, flute and sax echo. As it builds, it swings, coalescing into a uniquely compelling statement of intent. By the time and sax and flute solo over organ, bass and drums, Batsumi has got you.
Here is another group called "Batsumi" (Hunters), whose sounds and production of a mixture of South African musical culture, tradition and nuances are capture in stark, hauntingly and edifying rhythmic soulful earthy relief and very Africanized songs. Apparently this scared the Boer Censors and the group was banned and prohibited form playing.
And that’s precisely the point. They have you nodding along in the same way that people respond to an accurate rendering of some richly remembered past. (Albeit with considerably more rhythm than that which attends to most story-telling.)
It’s fairly easy to see Batsumi in your minds eye — the township practice sessions, the clothes, the conversations — at the risk of cliché, you can practically smell the incense. But when they start to blow, or jam, or pound or chant, there’s an abandon that demands our attention — the compulsion to express oneself, at a time when self-expression was radical and political in and of itself.
Batsumi didn’t need to respond to protests or apartheid or Bantu Education to be revolutionary. It just was, without ideology or partisan squabbling, no program necessary. That Johnny Mothopeng was the son of imprisoned PAC president Zephania Mothopeng is incidental; he played a mean guitar. His band played what they liked and what they played kicked ass. This was black consciousness, this was the 1970s. This was revolution.
Sound Offerings from South Africa 2 ~ Various Artists (Artist)
The following Group, "Harari" which has been dubbed the African rock group was and is still the best and funkiest sounding group to date. Harari began in 1968 with four friends who were students at Orlando West High school with the personnel being Selby Ntuli (Keyboards and composer) Alec Khaoli (bass guitar), Saitana(Lead guitar(but he would eventually leave the group and became South Africa's African lead guitar soloist in this genre-except of course for Philip Tabane and Allen Kwela), and finally Sipho Mabuse on drums.
In the beginning the called themselves "The Beaters" (which was during the 'soul era' in South africa of the late sixties and early seventies). When they returned from touring Zimbabwe, in 1976, they changed their name to the famous African Township near Salisbury, now also called Harari. But in so doing, their continued to develop their 'South African soul' sound, with a tinge of African American funk, progressive rock and their African traditional music and the heavy effects and tones of Mbaqanga Music (this uniquely South African genre will be treated in full in an upcoming Hub).
HARARI - "Musikana"
Bitches Brew [Extra Tracks, Original Recording Reissued, Original Recording Remastered] Miles Davis
I will also like to follow-up with another selection of Harari in their funky and groovy party mode. This was one of their songs that rocked and injected life, raised the spirits and hopes of the destitute Africans under Apartheid. Their willingness to forego premature stardom in favor of musical integrity greatly aided their creative development and the social integration in and within their Soweto Community. They produced successful Albums like "Rufaro" that spawned a new movement in African South African Music.
After the death of Selby Ntuli in 1978, the band reorganized itself and emerged stronger than ever with a string of popular live appearances. With their production of songs like "Jikeleza [go round and round] on the Album Kalahari Rock [Gallo ML4303] still contained the freshness, power and cultural authenticity of their best previous work. At this time, the group featured Sipho Mabuse, Alec Khaoli, Oupa Segwai, Thelma Segonah(she replaced Selby Ntuli on the Keyboards, Masike Mohape and Doc Mathilane. Harari had a heavy appeal to the working class, the 'created" African middle class, also, as well as the poor African masses, and they wore their unlooked-for identity as a leading Black(African Consciousness band and were expected to survive the conflict between Apartheid cultural repression and were again looked at as a band that would meet the expressive and revolutionary demands of the Township audience. Here is their "Soul fire" ditty.
Harari - "Soul Fire"
Mingus Ah Um [Extra Tracks, Original Recording Reissued, Original Recording Remastered] Charles Mingus
A group called Juluka learned to walk the political tight rope because it was one of the first bands to have mixed races personnel, and had remarkable success, and was created by Sipho Mchunu and Jonathan Clegg in the golden days of Grand Apartheid in south Africa. Clegg was a young White social anthropologist and performer of Zulu guitar, song and dance, also, who learned the Zulu language and performance in the workers' Hostels(where mine and industrial workers from the farms and all over Africa lived and worked) in Johannesburg.
During the 1970s, he and his friend Sipho Mchunu, a Johannesburg gardener, composer and dancer from Natal, put together an original blend of Zulu rural music and dance, Mbaqanga, and part-Western folk music. After struggling for years and local radio station refusing to give them airplay, because the Apartheid minions and their African lackeys, considered Clegg a 'threat and an insult' to Apartheid and African or Zulu culture. They were really considered a threat to cultural apartheid…
So, Sipho and Clegg begun playing for a multi-racial audience in concerts which was a taboo in terms of Apartheid race relation, as duly noted above. With his acquired knowledge of Zulu guitar playing, language and dances, Clegg drew a lot of different audiences in his act during Juluka's performances. With their authentic African sounds, Juluka is still one of the most popular and achieved international success with their act, dance and music, and the power of their lyrics and songs.
Juluka - "Scatterlings of Africa"
Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times (The Nathan I. Huggins Lectures) Hardcover by Robin D. G. Kelley
Philip Tabane and Malombo
Philip Tabane is the founder and guiding spirit of Malombo is a son of an Ndebele mother and 'Tswana father who grew up in Pretoria's Mamelodi Township. As a youngster, Philip began playing the guitar by himself, picking up a variety of musical ideas from the neo-traditional, Mbaqanga, African Christian, and American Jazz styles that floated around the township. He left school at standard(grade) one, Tabane spent his time improvising and blending heavily African musical elements into an impressionistic, loosely structured and intensely personal style.
Malombo is a Venda word referring to ancestral and other spirits consulted by traditional diviners, and signifies the deeply African spiritual attitude that the group brought into and made their music sound more traditional, customary and African-like. Tabane and Malombo developed a new , expressionistic, multi-traditional.
The music's loose progression of improvised phrases, disjunct melodic and rhythmic lines, and poeticized aphorisms was not much like neo-traditional (but it was adding a new dimension to it) Tabane's music had affects and influences form traditional, neo-traditional, African church-more of the Pedi traditional vibes, and quasi-Mbaqanga and Zulu guitar picks, and customary chants giving it a very rural, indigenous and urban contemporary urban style.
Over time, Tabane included the drumming of drummer and dancer Gabriel "Mabee" Thobejane, after he, Abie and Julian Bahula split because Tabane was not interested in getting involved in political. He and Thobejane travelled to the US and played with the likes of Miles Davis, Max Roach, Pharaoh Sanders, McCoy Tyner and other first rank muscians. Free from Apartheid restrictions, Malombo gained fame and financial success.
As time went bye, Tabane suffered from creative expression through isolation from the sources of his inspiration from the rural areas and the Townships. In 1973 he and Gabriel returned home to perform for and re-learn from their own people in the Townships throughout the former Transvaal Province(Now Gauteng and other provinces). His album Pele Pele, and they were also spurred on to greater heights with their appearance at the New York Newport Jazz Festival in 1977. They continues to play in may concerts in the Townships and at Market Theater, Market Cafe in Johannesburg during 1976-1977.
Philip and Gabriel continued playing using their style of almost competitive musical dialogue, with Philip always playing his guitar, Kalimba(hand piano), flute, and Gabriel on African Drums. His intense guitar-playing, solos and melodic poetic recitations, supplemented and backed-up Gabriel's percussive power and dynamics with African drums, dance, and ankle tattles kept the audiences in the Townships jumping all over the place along with the White concert goers.
The content and style of Malombo remains unique in the annals of contemporary music in south Africa with its blend of traditional resources symbolizing the cultural Orientation of African Consciousness. Although Tabane's songs, in most cases, refer to a deeper cultural and spiritual sensibility. Tabane's faithfulness to urban and rural cultural identity saved him from social and creative alienation and made him a leader in the musical realization and shaping and making permanent that African identity that so much characterizes his music. In the video below, performing in Market Theater, he featured his son on drums, and it is worth watching this act. In a Nutshell, Phillip is singing that" "The bum or punk has gone away with my Pedi Woman"
Phillip Tabane and Malombo Live at the Market Theater, Johannesburg
Sorcerer Miles Davis
Winston Mankunku Ngozi
Mankunku was born in Retreat, Cape Town, and passed-away at the age of 66 from Kidney failure and heart disease-related illness. He was described by his fellow musicians as someone who lived the notes he played , he bridged the gap between African and American Jazz music playing his saxophone, with a definitive African musical tonal accent. A very humble man, whose compositions are already standards, and they are also already anthems for South African Jazz and cultural music…
He was one of the four musicians [the others being Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, and Jimmy Dludlu] who have performed more than once at the Cape Town Jazz Festivals. This happened because of public demand and insistence that he be brought back time and again. Some of his music was political and he was world renowned.
Mankunku refused to go into exile, and he also refused several invitations to tour international by the likes of Duke Ellington, because for him, his music was deeply connected to South Africa and its people. I will post two of his most memorable videos below: "Yakhal' Inkomo"; and the second video, Mankunku with Gavin, who is singing in Xhosa, "Lakushona' Ilanga(When the Sun goes down," and this was Mankunku's last performance before his passing away…
Winston Mankunku Ngozi - "Yakhal' Inkomo" (The cow bellowed)
Mankunku's last Perfomance- "Lakushon' Ilanga (when the Sun is going down)
The last selection of the following Videos are from Jabu Khanyile, Zim Ngqawana, Batsumi, Amampondo, Stimela and Hugh Masekela just to give the reader a taste of the different types of music in South Africa. some of the videos will be lengthy and mixed, with different African musicians. I the future I will be including some other types of south African Musical genres. This is simply the beginning and I hoe to keep up the exposure of the Music of Africans in South Africa
South African Jazz
The next Video is byHugh Masekela, Called "Stimela(Coal Train) for readers and listeners pleasure(i.e., those who have read and listened thus far to the music of South africa
Hugh Masekela's Coal Train- Live
Here's Miriam Makeba with her rendition "Soweto Blues"
Miriam Makeba with Hugh Masekela- South Africa freedom song
AMAMPONDO band of South africa with their song "Gumbele". The instruments are made fromnature artifacts, and no electricity, except the microphones
I will finally end, at this juncture with the video music of Brenda Fassie. I will be writing and featuring about her and her music when I post the music of Women of South africa. She really epitomized Township Funk and Spunk at its best.
Brenda Fasie - "Malibongwe"
There so much music that has been composed in South Africa, particularly Township vibe, which today, although the youth is into Kwaito, but Brenda is the best and one and only who was able to capture the spirit and music of the Township, with no equal to date. She passed away.
Brenda Fasie - "i-Straight Lendaba" (This issue is straight)
African Rhythms: The Autobiography of Randy Weston (Refiguring American Music) Hardcover by Randy Weston
Africans View Performance On The Appropriateness of Action, Not On Its Meaning
This is a beginning of the Hubs which will be a series of the various types of music from South Africa. It is a broad field with many genres that are particular and peculiar to South Africa. It is very important to put this music in the World of music of the peoples of the world.
It is as the Zulu newspaper Imvo ZaBantsundu put it that "the adoption of European culture as a movememnt away from an Africa that is ours, into an "Africa' that is of the White man's making. He argued that 'We deny our music the opportunity to speak to the outside world in its own language". He also praised not only indigenous music, but Music of the African Diaspora that they speak to the world in a language evolved by Africa in a foreign environment ... they make the world understand things we stand for ... We want noto be be a Europeanized Africans, but Civilized Africans."
In wrapping up this Hub of the music of South Africa, it is important that we give some brief historical background.
Because of racial segregation, curfew restrictions and lack of transport tended to make these entertainments all-night affairs for Townships. "Until the late 1920s," writes Coplan. "These concerts were a center of [Township] social life. Community organizations created a system of links between the Townships. A sponsoring school, church or club often provided a 'featured' choir(s) and invited their counterparts from other Townships. Profits went to the sponsoring institution, organization, or prominent local family; but attendance was open to all Africans from all walks of life, occupation, income, and educational level"
Copland adds: "Open admission made status competition, [in some ways-I might add] a major feature of these occasions and worked to the sponsor's benefit[in rare times the community gets some little bit]. ... Performance provided an important cultural dimension to adaptation and institutional change.
"As cultural communication, performance linked rural and urban areas and spanned[albeit paltry] all racial and social category, indigenous and foreign styles interpenetrated according to the needs of specific groups of Africans for new forms of expression. These needs were related to African strategies for survival and advancement within an Apartheidized colonial society. African performers and conditions of performance were part of the process of adaptation and so were shaped by it."
So, to have a better understanding how these different performers recombined various cultural resources to entertain their neighbors, express common aspirations, interpret social experience, and earn a(meagre) living, it would be better to take time and listen to the video above. These artists, are of a recent modern time, but the still had in them the ability to perform and really get no renumeration for that, but also for the sake of preserving and developing their musical art form to the level that the reader/listener is listen and hearing from the videos posted above.
The social history of urban/rural African performing arts, or music making-and theater, which is not really being discussed here in this Hub. But, the style of a performance is itself and index of meaning, established collectively(amongst Africans) over time by artists and their audiences.
The audience is of prime importance for the artists because the African people relied on the artists to mark their identity, be it through dance or music, which had tonalities, rhythms(the bass being of high importance and in the same category, African drums, melody, groove and danceability), and these symbols, forms, understanding and value orientations, were what the artist depicted with professional execution and this was judged by the audience as to whether is what they saw compatible with their understanding, practicing and living that musical , dance or theatrical performance.
Coplan informs us that, "A given performance need not fall within just one stylistic category; nor do practitioners necessarily agree on the elements that belong to [a musical or dance] style, or to which performance a particular stylistic labels applies. Dancing styles and musical genres and their styles, provide a foundation , vocabulary of forms, activities, and occasions which constitute and express social and cultural processes.
"Participants may apply a range of meanings to stylistic metaphors, yet there is a core of association and feeling that unites form and meaning in a shared identity-this pertains the African performing arts in South Africa. This unity in variation promotes cultural patterning and social organization in developing urban and rural communities. African people attracted to specific performances or music, need only agree on the appropriateness of the action or music or both in one take, not on its meaning."
That is why Western categories of music, dance or drama are foreign to Africa: they fail to recognize the close integration of song, lyric, tone, rhythm, movement,rhetoric, drama, and musical accents in African performances. Therefore, we should recall what we have said above that the African people of south Africa is heavily supported by a proletariat of African Township dwellers and rural townsmen, who lived by their wits in the shadows of the mushrooming shanties of the mushrooming locations.
And those in the rural shanties and some who lived in White owned farms,created a hybrid of styles of cultural survival(in the face of a vicious cultural war under Apartheid), and that this spirit of survival shaped African music ad drama, of which, in this Hub, I have talked and presented the musical background of the musical performances, which they too, give a sense of the dramatical dancing which is part of theater and drama of africans in South Africa. This, the readers/listeners will be able to appreciate from the videos posted above in this Hub.
Lucky Dube - Live In Concert
Leta Mbulu and Caiphus Semenya
I had inadvertently left out a fantastic due, Sis Letta Mbulu and Bra Caiphus Semenya out of the the narrative I have been presenting above about South Africans.These two made it in exile or overseas Where they have left an indelible mark in the Music Internationally, and came back to South Africa When Apartheid partly crumbled. Theirs is a long history and a story that I will have to work into a single Hub because of the preponderance of their work and composition over the decades.
Letta Mbulu and Caiphus Semenya - "Nomalizo"
Soul Brothers - "Bayeza" (The Are Coming)
Soul Brothers: Mama Ka Sibongile (Live in Concert)
Jimmy Dludlu(South Africa)
Pops Mohamed - Quandodo (God Help Us)
The Last Holiday: A Memoir Hardcover by Gil Scott Heron
Thomas Sankara informs us as follows:
"To end illiteracy and obscurantism, emphasis must be placed on mobilizing all our energy to organize the masses so as to awaken and induce in them a thirst for learning by showing them the drawbacks of ignorance. Any policy of fighting against illiteracy that does not involve the participation of those most concerned is doomed to failure.
'The culture of a democratic and popular society must have triple character: national revolutionary, and popular. Everything that is antinational, anti-revolutionary, and anti-popular must be banished. Instead, our culture will be enhanced, extolling as it does dignity, courage, nationalism, and great human virtues.
"The democratic and popular revolution will create favorable conditions for the blossoming of a new culture . Our artists will have a free hand to go forward boldly. They should seize the opportunity before them to raise our culture to a world level. Let writers put their pens(Computers, today-my addition) at the service of the revolution! Let musicians sing not only of our people's glorious past, but also of their bright and promising future!
The revolution expects our artists to be able to describe reality, portray it in living images, and express it in melodious notes while at the same time showing our people the correct way forward to a better future. It expects them to place their creative genius at the service of a [Voltaic] national, revolutionary, and popular culture
"We must be able to take from our past - from our traditions - all that is good, as well as all that is positive in foreign cultures, so as to give a new dimension to our culture. The inexhaustible fountainhead of the masses, being involved in the people's movement, sharing the joys and sufferings of the people, and working and living with them - all this should be a major preoccupation for our artists. Before producing, we should ask: for whom is our creation intended? If we are convinced that we are creating for the people, then we must understand clearly who they are, what their different components are, and what their deepest aspirations are."
This is what the artist of South africa have been doing before and during apartheid. But what has happened now, the young and up and coming generations have lost that sense of creating for the community, and they are aping decrepit foreign cultures in their music and dance, and in so doing, render the music, art and dance of Africans obsolete and irrelevant. It is up to those who remember all the music posted above and then some, to try and pass it on and keep it alive.
Sipho Gumede - When Days Are Dark, Friends Are Few
Jimmy Dludlu - "Tote"
Hugh Masekela - African Secret Society
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised Gil Scott-Heron
The Unsung Beaters/Harari African Funk Group
Not much has really been written about Harari and their impact and effect on South Africans, particularly those of my generation and above. I will utilize an article I found in by Soul Safari and will use it to develop the history and story of Beaters/Harari.
Beaters(Harar) - "Thiba Kamoo" (Block The Other Side Because The Birds Are Flying/Getting Away)
This audio video I am posting now was played as the listener is hearing it, originally by The Beater(later became Harari), and Sipho Mabuse was the drummer-and remained one in the Harari phase. Following this post, I will post the video made by Sipho years decades later, but this time added a live video with a lot of sound upgrade and also vibey and with the dancers, earthed it into the Dance maelstrom that is characteristic of the Africans of South Africa.
Selby Ntuli, at this time, was using a 'Farfisa piano Organ"(Seen on the album picture) and introduced us, their fans, to the whining and moaning sounds he was making and this created a lot of dance troupes around the Jo'burg Ghettoes, who were gyrating to these sounds and this music; and, these sounds have remained etched indelibly in our minds, souls and dancing spirits..
The Beaters(Harari later on-same group) "Thiba Kamoo"(block the Other Side, Because The Birds Are Escaping/or Flying way)
"Harari dominated the music scene of the 1970s in South Africa, even being invited to perform in the US with Hugh Masekela in 1978. During this tour, the band’s leader Selby Ntuli died, leaving Sipho as the new leader. This eclectic ensemble was impossible to categorize mixing funk and disco with jazz, while also using traditional African instruments to create a completely unique sound that many tried, but failed to imitate. They were the ultimate party band, yet boasted some of the best musicians around at the time, such as Alec Khali and Lionel Petersen. One of South Africa’s most important musical acts – Harari will forever hold legendary status, even after their split in 1982.
Proof of their talent and versatility was their participation in the recording of Pat Matshikiza and Kippie Moeketsi’s album, ‘Tshona’ which featured Basil “Mannenberg” Coetzee.They were invited by producer Rashid Vally of Kohinoor music retailer fame to assist Pat and Kippie on bass and drums. Kippie was skeptical about involving young boys in Jazz music, but once they started recording he was silenced by their brilliance and creativity.
"Harari, a blend of cultures. The name taken from the township near Salisbury, the people taken from the township near Johannesburg, the music taken from the heart of Africa. These, together with a unique brand of funk/rock, form the magic sound of Harari.
Rhythm of Resistance - Black South African Music (2000) Ladysmith Black Mambazo (Actor), Jeremy Marre (Director)
the original line up of The Beaters as Selby Ntuli, Sipho Mabuse, Alec 'Om' Khaoli andMonty 'Saitana' Ndimande (on second guitar). The group came together in 1968 while still high school students in Soweto. Harari, issued on Rashid Vally's As-Shams (The Sun) label in 1975 is their fourth album after: Soul-A-Go-Go with Teal Records in 1969, Bacon And Eggs in 1970 and Mumsy with GRC in 1974.
Following a very successful tour of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1974 the group composed Harari, the title track named for—then Salisbury's township and later future capital of Zimbabwe—Harare. Mojapelo has the date of their Rhodesian tour as 1976, though Vally's notes on the LP mention that the tour took place "last year" and the LP was issued in 1975, making the tour date around 1974. In an article in the Mail & Guardian, Sipho Mabuse has the date as 1973. After this album went double gold, fans began calling the group Harari and subsequently they continued future recordings under that name.
After Selby Ntuli's death in 1978, Mabuse took over leadership of the group and they continued recording until the group disbanded in 1982. Mabuse began an especially successful solo career as Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuse.
Thelma “Ndo” Segonah -piano, organ, strings, vocals
Harari supported and backed Percy Sledge, Timmy Thomas, Letta Mbula, Brook Benton and Wilson Pickett on their South African tours.
In 1981 A&M Records released their albums ‘Harari’ and ‘Flying Out’. Some of their best singles ever were ‘Give’ and ‘Party’, both achieving platinum status and the latter even entering the American Disco Hot 100.
It is not always easy to pinpoint the forces that destroy the team spirit and brotherhood, but it is mostly money, power and fame itself. Sometimes it is simply the need to grow. Harari could also not escape these forces. At the end of 1982 the original Harari disbanded. By the early eighties a number of musicians had joined and left the band. Most of these members pursued solo careers.
Harari - Musikana
Beaters Then Changed to Harari - "Harari"
Arrest the Music!: Fela and His Rebel Art and Politics (African Expressive Cultures) Paperback by Tejumola Olaniyan
Batsumi - Indigenously Sounding Band
From their inception in 1972 Batsumi were in search for new indigenous sounds and in 1974 they cut their first disc BATSUMI, popularly called BATSUMI SOUND by their fans.
MOVING ALONG consists mainly of familiar SOUNDS to prepare the many fans for BATSUMI's third Album which will revel in rapturous indigenous sounds BATSUMI caught in their quest. All the songs in this Album are composed and arranged jointly by the Group.
Buta-Buta is the main vocalist, blind Minesh Sibiya plays bongos and sings Toi-Toi. Abel Maleka, who is the leader of the group, is the percussionist and plays drums. John-Maswaswe Mothopeng, the blind pianist, also plays acoustic guitar. All these are founder members who for the last four years have been engaged in hunting for new sounds.
Also featured in this Album as session men are the three former Batsumi members, Zulu Bidi, Temba Koyana and Sello Mothopeng, and two other musicians Peter Segona, a trumpeter and Sipho Mabuse, a flutist.
We get an even more extended write-up on Batsumi form an Afrobeat site which wrote the following:
"Matsuli Music continues its reissue program of rare indigenous afro-jazz sounds from South Africa with the release of Sowetan group Batsumi's self-titled debut from 1974. The reissue has been lovingly re-mastered from the original tapes and features material compiled on the recent Next Stop Soweto series from Strut.
The album arrived amidst a period of intense political, intellectual and artistic ferment stimulated in large part by the teachings of Steve Biko and the Black Consciousness Movement. ‘“Say it loud! I’m black and I’m proud”. This is fast becoming our modern culture,’ wrote Biko in 1971, ‘a culture of defiance, self assertion and group pride and solidarity.’ Drawing partly on the insights of Frantz Fanon and the poets of Négritude, and partly on the contemporary US Black Power politics of figures such as Eldridge Cleaver and Stokely Carmichael, Biko forged a visionary and potent message of South African redemption, pride and defiance. It took culture to its heart, and in the wake of Biko’s message a burgeoning arts scene rooted in the black and African experience began to flourish.
Batsumi is a masterpiece of spiritualised afro-jazz, and a prodigious singularity in the South African jazz canon. There is nothing else on record from the period that has the deep, resonant urgency of the Batsumi sound, a reverb-drenched, formidably focused pulse, underpinned by the tight-locked interplay of traditional and trap drums, and pushed on by the throb of Zulu Bidi’s mesmeric bass figures. The warm notes of Johnny Mothopeng’s guitar complete a soundscape that is at once closely packed with sonic texture and simultaneously vibrating with open space, and in whose shimmer and haze Themba Koyana and Tom Masemola soar. A sonorous echo emanating from an ancient well, reverberant with jazz ghosts and warmed by the heat of soul and pop, Batsumi is nothing short of revelatory.
Many groups from this period did not issue recordings at all, and Batsumi are unusual in even having left an official recorded legacy. Out of print since the 1970s, and never issued outside of South African in its entirety, Batsumi is a landmark South African jazz recording, and a key musical document of its time. Out of sight for far too long, Matsuli Music is proud to be able to bring this back into view, and award it the prominence it so richly deserves.
Recorded in 1974 in Soweto, this is an intriguing, rousing reminder of the inventive styles that flourished in apartheid-era South Africa, but never came to the notice of the outside world. Batsumi were an Afro-jazz outfit led by a blind guitarist, Johnny Mothopeng, along with his keyboard-playing brother Lancelot and bassist Zulu Bidi. They worked in the sprawling Johannesburg township in the early 70s, and their debut album has been unobtainable for decades. Remastered from the original tapes, and best played very loud, it's a vibrant, energetic workout in which slinky, repeated riffs are matched against wailing, sometimes psychedelic effects, with saxophone and flute solos added. There are five lengthy tracks here, and they range from the opening Lishonile, in which hypnotic, repeated phrases and solos give way after nine minutes to equally furious chanting, and the cool Anishilabi, in which a classy keyboard workout and bass solo ease into a cool, loping riff. An obscure African recording, maybe, but this is still great dance music.
South African jazz is quite well known throughout the world. Indeed, I have listened to an immense quantity of it over the past three decades. I was introduced to South African jazz through the collection of a friend I lived with in Britain, a South African exile who revered the music of Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim). It was Dollar Brand and the other supremely talented South African expatriates, Myriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela, who effectively defined South African jazz for the international audience.
Of course jazz that germinated in the townships continued to grow and evolve after its luminaries emigrated, because most musicians could not flee the apartheid reality. I've explored as much of that music as I could, and have even posted some on this site. ElectricJive has provided a wonderful resource through which I have learned a great deal more during the past couple of years.
Nothing, however, prepared me for the 1974 Sowetan blast from Batsumi.Listen to this first awesome track as you read on.
Beginning with a minute of gentle, soulful acoustic bass and guitar, the rhythm suddenly accelerates. The strings are joined by drums and piano to create a dynamic, throbbing foundation for sax and, wait for it. . . flute improvisations. Two-thirds through this monster cut, all but the drums drop out, trap and traditional drums snaking around each other to create a different rhythm that drives the band for the final three minutes. This last movement and its vocals remind me strongly of Philip Tabane and Malombo.
The second track, "Emampondweni," is an urgent song lifted by Thomas Thabang Masemola's soaring flute, which fills all the empty spaces with reverb. Pianist Lancelot Sello Mothopeng begins "Itumeleng" in a classical vein with a couple of jazz chords, but then the other Batsumi musicians drop in one by one to stretch out for fifteen minutes of grooving introspection: Really, really nice. The whole album has traces of U$ soul music, which blend seamlessly with the traditional drums.
This rerelease was produced by Matt Temple over at Matsuli Music, the second loving restoration of a crucial recording made available by that tiny label. On Matt's site you can read a great deal more about Batsumi, the band, and the social context under apartheid in which this recording was made. I do not think I need to provide more details here. I'm a little behind the curve with this review, as it is, for the premier LP pressing of it is already virtually sold out! Nevertheless I think this classic reissue is important to consider, since it still is available as a lossless download here. Besides, writing the review gave me the great pleasure of listening, again and again, to this wonderful music.
The Indigenous Afro Jazz Sounds of Batsumi
Almost as if it was unexplored territory, the extraordinary landscape of South African jazz is frequently mapped out by reference to a few well known landmarks: the glorious township swing and hot jive of the 1950s; the fame and misfortune of the modern jazz exiles of the 1960s, and their energising presence in Europe; the towering trans-national figures of Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Abdullah Ibrahim. For the jazz music and musicians of South Africa that did not by chance or choice fall into one of these categories, the long silence of history has only intermittently been broken, and the legacy of past iniquities has served to consign many names on South Africa's long roster of jazz giants to an undeserved obscurity. A wealth of music does not yet appear on the map, but when the contours of the jazz scene under apartheid begin to be surveyed in more detail, it is clear that a space must be marked out for the Soweto-based group Batsumi.
Formed in 1972 by bassist Zulu Bidi and pianist Lancelot Sello Mothopeng, and led by the blind guitarist Johnny Masweswe Mothopeng, Batsumi issued just two full length LPs, 1974's self-titled Batsumi, and the 1976 follow-up Moving Along. Though the line-ups differed slightly between the two releases, the core of the group was constant, and was comprised of Bidi and the two Mothopeng brothers, Thomas Thabang Masemola on flute and traditional drums, Themba Koyana on tenor sax, Abel Lekgabe Maleka on drums, and Buta-Buta Zwane on bongos.
Though details are scarce, some members of the group were certainly established musicians well before Batsumi hit the scene. Zulu Bidi had been a member of The Klooks, a Soweto sextet who cut two sides of driving, organ-lead jazz for Rashid Vally's independent Soultown label and enjoyed some success on the jazz festival circuit in the late 1960s. Abel Maleka had served as a regular drummer for the great pianist, composer and broadcaster Gideon Nxumalo throughout the 1960s, and was also part of a late 1950s group that had featured both Nxumalo and Malombo founder Philip Tabane. Flautist Thomas Thabang Masemola had played in a variety of Johannesburg jazz bands, including the Jazz Zionists and the Jazz Clan, and graced the show band of the successful 1972 Phiri musical under the direction of Mackay Davashe. And around the time Batsumi itself was in motion, tenorist Themba Koyana, who had taken up baritone duties in the Phiri band, was playing regularly to packed crowds at Lucky Michaels' famous Pelican jazz club, where he would appear alongside figures such as Allen Kwela and Dick Khoza - a 1973 article in Drum magazine profiling the celebrated Soweto nightspot describes the deafening applause that began as soon as Koyana stepped forward to take a solo. In 1974 these musicians and their colleagues stepped into the Audio Arts recording studio to record one of the great South African LPs of the decade.
Batsumi (R&T, 1974) is a masterpiece of spiritualised afro-jazz, and a prodigious singularity in the South African jazz canon. There is nothing else on record from the period that has the deep, resonant urgency of the Batsumi sound, a reverb-drenched, formidably focused pulse, underpinned by the tight-locked interplay of traditional and trap drums, and pushed on by the throb of Bidi's mesmeric bass figures. The warm notes of Johnny Mothopeng's guitar complete a soundscape that is at once closely packed with sonic texture and simultaneously vibrating with open space, and in whose shimmer and haze Koyana and Masemola soar. A sonorous echo emanating from an ancient well, reverberant with jazz ghosts and warmed by the heat of soul and pop, Batsumi is nothing short of revelatory.
The development of this powerfully original indigenous afro jazz sound had been set in train over a decade earlier by the Malombo Jazz Men of guitarist Philip Tabane, drummer Julian Bahula and flutist Abe Cindi. The Malombo sound was wholly original, and marked a dramatic departure from prevailing trends in South African jazz. A stripped back trio of flute, guitar and drums, it was separated from the jazz crowd by a pioneering twist: Bahula's kit was composed of the upright, mallet-struck wooden drums of the Venda spiritual tradition. In a field dominated by groups who had chosen the American modernist jazz language of Monk and Parker to convey their message, this was a bold and symbolically loaded innovation, and it brought them instant success on their debut in 1964. Despite this, the group soon fractured into two different outfits, Bahula and Cindi forming the Malombo Jazz Makers, Tabane joining with drummer Gabriel Thobejane in Malombo.
Batsumi did not cleave to the almost ascetically sparse instrumentation of the Malombo-style groups, nor were they new messengers of a specific tradition. Instead they presented their vision of modern afro-jazz within a wider instrumental setting, allowing its African roots to spread out and find new spaces. The influence of the Malombo sound is present, carried within the drums and flute of Thabang Masemola, but it is padded, supported and borne aloft by the other instruments in the warm currents that characterise the unique Batsumi musical synthesis.
The group's debut album arrived amidst a period of intense political, intellectual and artistic ferment stimulated in large part by the teachings of Steve Biko and the Black Consciousness Movement. `"Say it loud! I'm black and I'm proud". This is fast becoming our modern culture,' wrote Biko in 1971, `a culture of defiance, self assertion and group pride and solidarity.' Drawing partly on the insights of Frantz Fanon and the poets of Négritude, and partly on the contemporary US Black Power politics of figures such as Eldridge Cleaver and Stokely Carmichael, Biko forged a visionary and potent message of South African redemption, pride and defiance. It took culture to its heart, and in the wake of Biko's messagea burgeoning arts scene rooted in the black and African experience began to flourish.
The Batsumi sessions were completed on a limited budget at Audio Arts, a facility normally used for recording advertising jingles. The newly established Record and Tape Company (R&T) agreed to issue the album. A subsidiary of Satbel, R&T and associated record labels King, Soweto and Joburg sought to exploit indigenous black music and market it aggressively into the increasingly affluent and articulate urban black populations of the major metropoles of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. To fit with R&T's marketing plan and to conform with Apartheid radio-play restrictions the band were obliged to classify the songs on the cover according to language used. Stories of a seSotho hero (`Moshanyana'), the ancestral home of the Pondo people (`Empondoweni'), the setting of the sun on the rural past (`Lishonile'), joy and pride (`Itumeleng') and other themes inform the lyrics. The cover features an original painting by bassist Zulu Bidi.
By 1977 the briefly outspoken theatre groups, bands and poets of Black Consciousness faced a new wave of official interference and surveillance, and many bright stars from another generation of artists and musicians were driven underground or into exile; as David Coplan has written, bands such as Dashiki and Batsumi, who had briefly made their mark at festivals, small clubs and theatres, `vanished under repression's waves.'
Many groups from this period did not issue recordings at all, and Batsumi are unusual in even having left an official recorded legacy. Out of print since the 1970s, and never issued outside of South African in its entirety, Batsumi is a landmark South African jazz recording, and a key musical document of its time. Out of sight for far too long, Matsuli Music is proud to be able to bring this back into view, and award it the prominence it so richly deserve
Batsumi Lost Album reissued
Best of Stimela
Sarafina - Original Version of The Musical
Umlazi Maskandi: By the late Bhekumuzi Luthili)
African Guitar Styles Book with audio CD Paperback – August 8, 2001 by Folo Graff
A bit of the music of Maskandi would be in order here. Very popular in Kwazulu and the many townships of south Africa. It is indigenous to South africa and is found mainly amongst the Zulu and Xhosa People. But now, as it gains popularity, it is being played right throughout South Africa and the Whole continent of Africa.
It is songs that are praises, poetry and social issues that are raised from song, dance and traditional fixtures sutured within the music. dance and traditional dress is the staple and the lyrics are chocfull of messages that would take time to translate since mostly are sang in Zulu or both a mixture of Zulu and Xhosa. some people would call it Mbaqanga, I think it is best to call it what the Zulus and Xhosas call it: Maskandi
Bhekumuzi Luthuli - Banamanga (They Are Lying)
South Africa - Mfaz Omnyama - Khula Tshitshi Lami (Traditional)
Imithente - Ubezothini
"Imal"i(Money) - Shwi Nomtekhala
Sxaxa Mbij´ - Music Video
South Africa - Phuzekhemisi - Bayede
South Africa - Phuzekhemisi - Imbizo (Comunal Meeting- We are Tired) (Traditional)
Mfaz' Omnyama - Ngiyashisha Bhe!
Mahlathini & The Mahotella Queens - Lilizela Mlilizeli
Paul Ndlovu - Hita Famba eMoyeni Nkatanga
South Africa - Mahlathini & Mahotella Queens - Kazet Live
Rough Guide to the Music of South Africa Rough Guide
Mbaqanga: Music of the African Peoples Of South africa.
One of the most interesting genres of Township Funk is the genre know as Mbaqanga. Some says it means cooked porridge of something like that. But what this music was all about, was that companies like Gallo Records and other record companies were the ones who were dictating the formula as to how this music was to be played or produced and underpaid the musicians
We learn from David Copland that:
"By the early 1950s the South African Broadcasting Corporation(SABC) was presenting different African languages and musical styles on separate days. Once a week jazz pianist, Gideon Nxumalo entertained urban Africans with his regular feature. This Is Bantu Jazz". He was principally responsible for the wide distribution of a new term for the 'majuba' African jazz, "Mbaqanga".
This term, coined by Jazz Manaics' trumpeter Michael Xaba, originally referred in Zulu to a kind of traditional steamed maize bread. Among musicians, it meant that the music was both the Africans' own, the homely cultural sustenance of the Townships, and the popular working-class source of the musicians' daily read."
This piece of history helps explain the music that in every festival that one goes to in south Africa, the African people always demanded to listen or see the different groups of Mbaqanga without let-up. I started with Mahlathini above because he and the Mahotella Queens were the most enduring and long lasting bands from the early 60s. Below I will just showcase a few of the groups that dominated this genre.
The Mgababa Queens - MaphuthiThe Mgababa Queens - Maphuthi
The Mthembu Queens - Emjindini
Phuzushukela - Wangenza Ubaba
Amaswazi Emvelo - Thul'ulalele
Mahlathini & The Mahotella Queens - Lilizela Milizeli
The Rough Guide to the Music of South Africa
South african African music today in Mzantsi has been undergoing some changes, and they youth today have also fallen back into th Hip Hop genre and they call it Kwaito, which is an offshoot of Rap music in the United States. But what has happened is that locally produced music and artistry has been kept on the back-burner. The music that is now being circulated to the music listening public has been affected not only by Hip Hop, but also by the local and international corporate recording industry and its associated tentacles. This, as a form of cultural terrorism and War, has launched a musical medium that obscures local production of music, and the youth is not really building on what their Master musicians left them, but are scuttling to achieve the American ways of music making and production that this has robbed them of what they traditional and other cultural ditties in the country could do for the.
Well, this has a lot to do with the miseducation and dumbing down of a people by keeping them under-educated and very ignorant. This is part of the ploy of power-play to keep the hustlers and crooks in business/corporations and facilitate for the exploitation of African culture, labor, music and the whole bit.
The short bios I have given above about the artists and the bit of history that I have included is very important to understand and use it to begin to build up the culture that is under siege, music and whole traditional types of music are disappearing from the public, more accessible on the Web.and try and present and preserve it for historical posterity.The context through which I have approached and broached this subject, was to precisely open up and showcase African South African music from the Townships all around the country.
The people in the Townships and all those in the rural areas know this music, not only from what I have posted above, but a lot more, and even in Jazz music festivals, the people alwys require that the groups that sing or perform traditional music, local township vibe and those from the farms, mines, churches, schools and so forth be included. Although this is no more pushed for by the contemporary festival goers, but local talent is still given the attention and time by the African listening public. There are other minority ethnic groups that attend, but the chunk of the fans is always African people.
This Hub, therefore, although it is on Township vibes, this means Music of African People in its diverse manifestation. That this music is played in the Townships in all its different genres, but it is part of the musical mosaic of Africans of South and the various minority Ethnic groups.
South African Music is a Music With An Ancient History
We have To Understand Better What Intergenerational Cultural Transmission Is All About
This is the early and first month of the 2014 A.D. and we in Mzantsi are nowhere near our Objective and autonomous Freedom, Nationhood and liberation that we have so coveted and fought for over the centuries. The most perplexing thing about our decrepit state of existence is that, we have now been made ignorant,destitute, mentally disturbed and forlorn.
We fight the same sh*t and are the most dejected, despondent, disconsolate, wretched, downcast, dispirited, downhearted, crestfallen, depressed, melancholy, gloomy, glum, mournful, despairing, doleful, oppressed, repressed and denied of basic human rights people in Africa. This is an indisputable Fact, and remains so in the dawn of 2014 A.D.
I used all the synonyms above because they clearly describe our miserable, decrepit and wretched condition, given that our country of Mzantsi s the richest in Africa, in so many ways, and we are at the bottom of any end every development and progress that is taking place in our country, and we stand by the sidelines and and watch other people, who are not of our land, become better, rich, educated, and successful.
I am not going to apologize to no one when it comes to talking about our country South Africa, which must first of all take care of South Africans "first", and anybody else last. This is what I am talking about when I say I do not apologize to no one when saying what I have said above.
Having said so, I will begin the New Year with an observation we need to learn from Asa Hilliard below, and take from it what we need to get on our feet/bootstraps and pull together as an African nation(with those who wish to sit under the African tree/shade, welcome), as Sobukwe noted.
The major problem facing us as poor and African people, locally, regional, continentally and in the Diaspora is the concerted effort that is being foisted upon us to keep us Dumbed Down, illiterate and totally ignorant about everything. They(The Rulers), make the decision, we comply, obey and carry them out-no matter how unreal they are.
If we are going to talk about education, culture, history, tradition, dance, music , traditional dress and sacred rites and practices of the Nguni/Bakone, then we better know what we are talking about. If we are going to be talking and waxing political about the African-centerness of our culture, custom, traditions, music, dances and the whole bit, we better know concretely and very well what all the 11 people of South Africa are about and represent of and by themselves.
First of all, we need to put some issues into their proper perspective to even begin taking about the different types of music that are composed and made by Africans of South Africa. And there is nothing wrong in me selecting them as I do because our culture in Mzantsi is completely dominated by the Culture of the indigenous culture in app aspects and respect. Right now, most of us are not really helping to educate and lead from the people's perspective the oppressed of Mzantsi. I think Asa Hilliard's excerpt below will help us clarify and edify this reality into the core of our consciousness.
Our traditions have made a profound impact on world civilization. They still do. But today, we must reclaim these traditions, and where appropriate, utilize them to help us to address the many issues that plague our communities today. Asa Teaches:
"We continue to live in dangerous and treacherous times. The same propaganda and calculated manipulation of information about Africans that has existed since the start of Maafa is prevalent today. Mass media send messages to us and about us that are beyond our control. Schools have little or nothing to engage our students in African Cultural Traditions or in support of African communities. Our communities rarely acknowledges our traditions and they fail to create adequate structures to guarantee "Intergenerational Cultural Transmission".
" We are culturally lazy and our ancestors are not pleased. History will not be kind to those of us who forget. Shame, disintegration and dependency on other or worse, will be the outcome.
"While I am addressing a general audience, it is my highest hope that serious researchers will make a careful review of the references and selected bibliography. Special attention should be paid to those that point to documentation and descriptions informing us about our traditions. I am hopeful that these references will tease, enlighten, and heighten the interest of researchers so that they may be motivated to do the hard work of digging up greater details to illuminate traditional African aims, methods, contents, and outcomes.
"Time is of the essence as many of our living human sources are dying. Much of the information that we need is in "fugitive sources," like literature, film, tape recording,photographs. artifacts, architectural,structures, carvings, paintings, music, games, symbols and more. In other words, in order for us to develop and maintain a robust understanding of our cultural wealth, we have a great deal of "Study" to do. There is a virtual treasure trove to be uncovered. There is No Time to waste in tapping our African Power."
Studying And Learning Is Our Key To Nationhood and Autonomous Freedom/Self Rule
Asa then adds the following Advice and observations:
"There is no way around serious and disciplined study. We must study, and study more. Study, will reintroduce us to our tradition. Nothing in the general culture requires us to do this and so we must set our own standards. We must do this work for ourselves, on our own intitative. There is no chance, whatsoever, that we can launch an appropriate socialization effort without study, without structure, and without habit, tied to our own heritage.
"Nothing is more pitiful than to be led by those who have not done their homework. Around the world, some African and non-African lead panel discussions, public meetings, and more, are held to address the African agenda. While often well intentioned, the meetings feature disorganized sound bites, confusion, and a lack of synthesis and mission.
"Further, some of the valuable information revealed in these forums are sometimes repeating what Africans have said 20, 30, 50, 100, and 200 years ago. Because there was no study, Africans behave as though they re presenting new information.
"Had they studied and not been taught to avoid or resist their own history, they would not be reinventing the wheel. When you have not studied, you represent the accurate image of a disorganized, unfocused and controlled group. Unfortunately, too many individuals stand ready to enter the limelight with no clear vision.
"We must conduct study groups in every community for leaders and followers. This is our basic preparation for economic and political action. More important, this is our basic preparation for healing, renewal and for developing our vision of destiny.
"No public schools, anywhere in the African world, deal with the matters reflected in the references I recommended above. Sadly, very few of the organizations that are under the control of African people transmit our profound cultural heritage. This is the sorry condition.
"There is no way that we can survive as a people without study. There is no way that study can serve us unless we "ACT" on what we Learn. Knowing is not enough. We must construct the world that we want. Nothing comes to those who wait.
"We have all that we need to do what is necessary. We can come to know what we need to know. We, however, must choose to do what is necessary and make the sacrifices that we need to make. Today, we have more resources, books, computers, etc. Still, we waste time and far more resources than we need to take care of the socialization requireents. Now is the time to save us. The Struggle Continues," ["Aluta Kontinua" - my addition].
South Africa's Swing Scene - Cape Town International Jazz Festival
It is Important That We Construct Our World As we See Fit
What does Asa Hilliard and his sage comments above have to do with a musical article. Everything. What Asa is saying above strike at the core and center of our present-day social miasma. When we ignored, dismissed, rejected and scorned our history, culture, traditions, languages, music, dances, sacred rites and practices and our recognizing that we are an African people, we stopped learning and studying, concretely knowing, practicing, developing and living ourselves as the totality of all these things, we essentially have become European, here in Mzantsi. We think being European-like sets us apart from our communities, African continent and the Diaspora. We think that makes us unique and different. We boast to one another about western cultural artifacts and wealth accumulation thinking that this makes us better than our poor and down-trodden lot in the townships and ramshackle dwellings that is their domiciles-and those from Africa North of south Africa.
We have no groundings in nor are neither embedded within our cultures, histories, traditions and whole bit, at all. We think that how our masters have taught us to 'know' is enough, and we dare not construct our world outside the miseducated boxes we so comfortably dwell and think. We have no time to transmit in an Intergenerational way and manner our whole cultural spiel.
We are presently engaged and engrossed in imbibing, aping and executing in both speech and action all that is European of American, that we really do not have time to look into our history, culture, traditions and so forth to begin to talk about nation-building, once we understood what we need to know, study and live from our own and selves. It is either we do as we have been made, up to this far, begin to recognize, study and concretely know our cultures, traditions, customs, music, dances, traditional dresses and so forth before we can even countenance the unknown and unclear freedom and autonomy that so many tout, and yet that is still has not been realized nor achieved by the majority of Africans-to date.
The music that has been posted above thus far, is not the whole musical mosaic that one can find in Mzantsi, and even the music above, has but totally disappeared from the musical delivery media systems and concerts here in the country. I can see from posting on Youtube and reading the comments of those who have listened to these songs from South Africa, the amazement and enthusiasm these artists and their songs generate, and yet, inside the country, this same music has been taken off the programming diet playlists along with TV, and we are left with either Kwaito or music from overseas, dominating the Air and,TV and Concerts waves and performances.
We have to at least learn something from Asa above, which is "Studying" our Muisc, and other aspects of culture for our own benefit and betterment. In the Hub above, I have attempted to capture the essence of the culture that can still be made better from what one can see or listen to in the videos above, also, this will help those who still need to know a bit about some artists, and also what they had been through. The other issue not touched up fully in this Hub are the affects and effects that the recording and publishing industry has had on the music and artists in South Africa. this will be forthcoming in due time. For now, studying music in the simple way I have done above, moves the reality that we need to construct our African world as we see fit-forward; we must choose what we want to go viral and how we are going to own that and affect everything about the product(music in this case), that we want the world to know us by and begin to understand us as African people much better-From our own African-Centered perspective.
Fusion and Difussion Of African Music In History
Designing Communication and Networking For Africans Globally
To give a much more better example of music being defined form the African Diaspora point of view, I will add an article that was written on the subject of African music from a very fresh and different pespective-but still African-centered..
African Music, Art, Linguistic and Cultural History: An Alternate Take
The reason I am dedicating this section to music it is because it is what I grew up on and understand much more better. Although, I can never, in one Hub discuss or post about the music of African and African music in the Diaspora, I can always try to use key information about the history or otherwise of this music of Africans. So, below, I have decided to use a whole article that was a speech and now an article that was made by Amiri Barak, wherein I found that he works hard to put the music of African people in his own particular African-centered perspective.
Although it is written from an African American perspective, most of what he says I can relate it in relation to the environment I grew up in, and there are also some issue I would like to take up on in my later additions to this Hub. But his article enables me to pass on his knowledge and experience for those who might gain too from knowing what he has to say.
This also helps me to put the section into some perspective, and be able to give background information about the genre of the music of African people, which is the same all over the world.The title of the article that Amiri Barak spoke about is called:
Riffin' on Music and Language
"There's an essay that I put in this mazaine called Presida 9 called "Doc Iment," for a poet who died in 1999 ho was a close friend of mine, Gaston Neal. What is this document about? It's about word music, as we call it. Word music is poetry and music. It begins, "Doc I meant. What I say? Document?"Djali.
"That's the African word for what people call griot, which is a French word. Griot means "cry." Djali, on the other hand, does not mean to cry, but to "promote laughter." It's like a geo-socialaesthetic portrait of the world, which would be, for instance, the masks of theater, one is smiling, one is frwoning. You have a geo-social aesthetic.
In college they taught us that the highest form of art is tragedy. Meaning, Aeshylus, Sophocles, the dude that killed his father, slept with his mama, put out his own eyes, and searched the world for mediocrity. That dude. That's the first Crazy Eddie, Oedipus. What does Oedipus mean? come on, Greek Scholars, if you haven't had any Greek scholarship, you haven't been to school. It means "lame, clubfoot." Even today in urban America, corny people are called lame. Are we talking about Oedipus when we say "Lame Motherf***r. Are we talking about language ... about image or about history?
"African Americans are urban people, because as quiet as it's kept-independnet off Jesse Helms and the rest of the people who want to make the world safe for nobody-the world is mixed, inalterably, ineffably mixed. If Africans were the first persons here, if you don't have some African trace in you, you would be from beyond the Van Allen Belt..
"Language, which began in one base and spread wherever the conditions had changed, is the oldest record of human life. These hands were once paws, all shaped the same way, and everybody read the same information down there on the ground. there wasn't much to see on the ground. then there was the monkey who had to leap off the ground and therefore break his thumb, break his hand to turn it this way so that therefore I can pickup a stick and beat you to death, or a too-making instrument.
"At the same time, if you read Engels, is there anybody here who's not addicted to imperialism that would read Engels? Solid. He talks about the development of the hand as a form of labor, of society as a form of labor. We keep jumping up. You can't jump up with a paw. The woman said,"Why are you down there on the ground? Get Up"" So belatedly, he stood up and said, "I can't get that. My Paw won't get it."
"Engels talks about the development of the vowels ass the same time that the fingers developed. He talks about the development of a-e-i-o-u, the vowels; at the same time that's traced to the pentatonic scale. You're talking about music, about language, about anthropology. so that at the same time it becomes possible for you to not be cheetah to pick it up. With that kind of articulation, it become possible for you to say, ah, eh, ih, oh uu. that is the beginning of language.
"It means a lot of things. First, if you read Paul Robeson',does any one know Paul Robeson's work, not his work as a singer, he was a great artist, but he was also and aesthetic theorist? His work on backgrounds of afro-American music was very interesting and important. You can see that in his selected works. He talks about the pentatonic scale,the blues, the black notes. that's why the blues singers could play that easy, because they were the black notes.
"But Robeson said, and this was interesting, was that you can trace the development of the pentatonic, whether you're listening to the Volga boatmen in russia and the Ukraine or Deep River in the South. It's essentially the same scale, the same chords. Robeson goes through the whole technical, musical thing. I'd be glad to send the essay to yu. If you can find the time.
We talk about griot. six o'clock and all's well, the town crier. The Djali had a different fucntion. It was literally to make you jolly. We get the term glee, glee man, glee club. When Louis Armstrong, for instance, used to sing, "Just because my hair is curly, just because my teeth are pearly, just because I wear a smile on my face all the time, that's why they call me shine." We're talking about history that not understood by those upon which it was shaped. We're walking around full of, "You square motherf***s." Why do we say that? The Egyptians said a square was the angle of failure. The pyramid was the angle of success. Who knows that on the street? We don't know that.
"We talk about the griot vs. the Djali. What is the Djali's function" Griot is a word that comes into use through colonialism. If you go to Senegal, Mali, great places to go to, Ras, my second son, and I went there to visit the old slave castles. That's a hell of an experience. It's like the Jews when they go back to the concentration camps. It's something that breaks you down. We didn't say anything. I wrote my name inside an old castle. they said, "You mean there a a Baraka here many years ago?" But you know, when you see it, you go to the French possessions, you know, number one, nobody's there. You travel for miles, there's nobody in Senegal.
"You see the baobab trees and empty villages. Where are they? Maybe in Denver or LA or Oakland. But that strength of that French -African connection meant that the words coming out of Africa,, like Djali would become griot. What is the job of the Djali? Storyteller. That makes it abstract. Poet. Historian. Musican. Storyteller. Because if it's not a story, if it hasn't stored something, that's what a story is. It's a storage place. You store stuff in there. There's something interesting. So, it's a historian.
"The Djali was supposed to go to each place and tell the history of the joint.[They do so from the beginning. In so-and-so we did so and so. Why? Because everybody is not up to speed on that]. When the Djali comes, the first thing they do is say, "You know the world begins and this happened. It used to be this. to get the point . And now this is the case."
"Also, when the Djali gets down you call that Djeliaw. Billy Eckstein's most famous hit was "Jelly, Jelly, Jelly." There was a great pianist from New Orleans named Jelly Roll Morton. We always hook up jelly with sex. Why? You'll have to reason that out yourself. Must be jelly because jam don't shake like that. we could go on with these associations.
"Jam comes from djama, which means family, which ultimately means socialism, cooperative, ujama. so, when he says, Jelly, Jelly, Jelly drove my old man crazy, made my mama wild. The point is that the Djeliaw their job is to light up the mind, to make the mind shine, to make the mind smile, to make the mind laugh, to understand history as a revelatory story.
So that the poet, or at least the poet per my own self, like I said, Doc Iment, I'm not talking about what I meant, the point is that for the Djali the first function is to light up people's minds, to light up the understanding of the world. Why music? Because music is an expression of the word inne-rself. In terms of why music, we're working on that now, when for instance you know the Greeks and Romans always used to say the Ethiopians were always smiling.
"This is a hell of a put down, because when you get down there with the sun picking stuff off the trees, which has a downside to it, it means people who wrest their life from the snow, who tended to be stricter, can come down and beat the sh*t out of you, ultimately, if you're not cool. There's an upside and a downside, an upside to the frown and a downside to the smile. Together it's infinity.
"You keep doing that and you keep going on. What we're trying to do is, human beings hopefully make a circle rather than always flactuating. It's bound to have a dialectic to it. If there's an up, there's a down. If there's a slow, there's a fast. If there's a hot, there's a cold. so, where there was once the so-called master of the universe, Egypt, the light of the world,they called themselves, who now must push bags for fat, aging businessmen. So, there's an upside and a downside to everything.
Why Music? Music is the motion of rising and changing, as thought given form, feeling as an object, the living reflection of material life, the thoughts I see, I hear, sonographics, drama itself. In terms of word music, the Africans, when we arrived here, now Afro-Americans, black Americans, people who think that Africans remain Africans in the US are unrealistic.
"Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, are Western musicians. When I taught at Yale with Bill Ferris, who's now the head of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), we taught a course. He showed an incredible film. A drummer named Tony Williams, who used to play with Miles Davis, they took him to Africa to the shore. He comes to the shore of Africa and sets up his drum set and goes, boom, boom,,pow, pow!
"A minute later they heard from across the way drums. the people are saying, "We've heard you, but don't understand what you are saying." Not only we heard you, but we heard you plural. Why Plural? Because we play an industrial instrument. It's got levers. It's a little motor. they thought it was 10 or 15 people, when it was actually Tony Williams, you know, young Max Roach.
"Because that's an industrial, Western instrument, created by the one-man bands after the Civil War, the guys who stand out there, they don't want to go do the work, pick cotton,or whatnot, so instead they pick up instruments-everything, harmonicas, drums, banjos, and started playing around with them. That's where that comes from, that is, to play it all.
"The point is that this has not got to do with just the African qua nationality, but the culture, which is now embedded in the US. If you don't think the American culture is Africa, European and Native, you don't know what you're talking about. That's what this while idea is about Standard English. Hey, americans never spoke English. Or about Ebonics. All of those are off the wall. Language is created by people together. You cannot be on the West Coast and not speak Spanish. You know that. I want to go to Los Angeles. what are you going to say?
"You want to go to San Diego, what are you going to call it? You can't be in the Midwest unless you can speak Native American. You can't be in the South and not speak Bantu. There are more Bantu names, African names,in South Carolina, where they're trying to keep the flag up, which is why they're trying to keep Confederate flag up. Because they figured all those Bantu names are going to rise up off the ground and get them.
"You cannot speak an american sentence without going from Europe to Native to Africa. We're one people. Even though the social thing keeps us separated and sometimes hateful and not understanding each other, we're still one people. A wild, wild thing. We have the history to kill each other off or to learn to be human beings. That's the way it is. Somebody told me that a long, long time ago, and I said Fiddlesticks. I didn't understand that then.
"The question of word music. Music is a strictly abstract function, but music as a form of actual telling, for instance, "Meet me tomorrow at seven o'clock. Bring your largest knife and do not be late." At that point, where that is stopped, that is, take the drums away, why take the drums away, is it because you don't like percussion in you symphony orchestras? Why isn't there percussion in Europe? We have to ask, Why is the piano segregated?
"The question of history and art is the same thing. What happens in social history happens in aesthetic history, in arts. So, if somebody suddenly says, "Look, boss, if you take that piece of wood away from them slaves, that wood they keep beating on, if you take that wood, all that notion about them rising up into the night, that would be over with," Fiddlesticks. Certainly can't b true. How can that piece of wood be related to slave uprisings? Watch them, and for three more pork chops I will tell you.
"Sure enough, that night, there he goes again. He hears it and says, "Ali, there is some kind of relationship. what is it?" "They're speaking to each other, boss. You mean it's code?" "No, its not a code. It's a language." "Because it's a tonal language and they're using the drum under their arm, we call it the dundun, the drum is shaped like the hourglass with cords around it that you have with the drumstick shaped like a staff and you hold it under your arm like that so that you could make it like a string instrument, tight high, loose low. It's a tonal language. they'r actually speaking to each other.
"Why is that so important? The greatest drummers now are still playing a form of abstract expressionism. that is, they say, "We hear you, but we no longer understand what you are talking about, and neither do you." You understand the emotion, which drives you and makes you do certain things, but to actually be able to say, "Meet me tomorrow."
"In periods of backwardness such as one we're in today, notice for instance how he music has changed. In the sixties, the rhythm and blues, the pop, very clear. There's no clearer singer, for instance, than the Motown people in terms of their words. You hear everything they say. Listen to Stevie wonder. Marvin Gaye. they're clear. But then rap, I defy you to understand most of its just right off the thing.
"Reggae. Nobody clearer than bob Marley. "Redemption Song." Tell me what they're singing now. Why is that? Because it is the society itself that no longer wants that clarity. when rap began, hip hop, and I say rap because it relates to the drum, that's what the sailors did on a log. What did the log do? It told what happened. That's the same thing.
"You cannot become merely a passive receiver of culture. You cannot in the meantime be a dog in the manger and trying to wait until imperialism discovers you. A lot of people say, I'm out here being this and that, but as soon as el hombre discovers you, you turn into a 'ho', whore. They'll turn you into what they are.
It's the job of people who think of themselves as advanced or progressive to create a living culture themselves.Even Narop ... What would this whole scene here be without this alternative institution? We need these in ever city. Where black people live as plurality, majority,that's 27 cities. the biggest cities in the US. We need a network. Why should we go to all those jazz festivals in Europe? sure, we're going to go to them, Why not? But why should those be the only things we attend? Where's the Zimbabwe jazz festival, the Beijing jazz festival? Where is the Pyongyang jazz festival, the Ho Chi Minh City jazz festival" It sounds like I am communist, and it's true.
"... It is also important to give history of the place that actually place it in the place where people lived
"The last thing I mentioned is the thing that were working on now, myself, personally, and some people are helping me, is that we're trying to reclaim word music. We have actually written music so that when we write words they correspond to the notes. If you write b-a-t, that actually corresponds to a chord.These are things that we're working on so that for instance one day, and any of you poets who are interested in coming out there, who are serious and revolutionary, because we're not doing tis just to strum our own gourds, we're trying to create alternative means of communication and networking.
South African Jazz
African Music And The Apartheid Rulers.. And beyond
Both takes by Asa Hilliard and Amiri Barak are important if we are to better understand what the music of South African Africans has been all about. It is then important that at this juncture I give the reader a sense of what the music they have been listening above had to undergo and was subjected in all areas and spheres of life, communication, etc. Although there are some issues that are pointed out herein that I have many problems with and would like to breakdown in the near future within this Hub or a new one, explaining the oppressed relationship and communication that was experienced by Africans and bit of what has happened post-apartheid South Africa. the following article was penned by Carola A. Muller:
Twentieth-Century Entertainment History: Live and Mediated
- The apartheid government used radio to divide South Africans by creating separate radio stations for each of the major languages in South Africa. (Officially, however, only white South African qualified for South African citizenship, while non-whites were citizens of their respective ‘homelands’).
- All radio content was heavily censored by apartheid government officials.
- The South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC) under apartheid had two main agendas: firstly, to instill Christian values and morals in both white and non-white South Africans; secondly, to portray all events in South Africa positively, and to celebrate white European history.
- At the same time, the apartheid government used radio to promote ‘traditional’ reified African cultures. Only Zulu was allowed to be spoken on Radio Zulu, for example, and the music on that station was supposed to sound traditionally Zulu.
- Along with music that was meant to promote ‘tribal’ identity to both people in rural areas and migrant workers, the more Westernized forms of isicathamiya, African jazz (and more commercial American swing), kwela, and ‘jive’ were also broadcast. These genres were typically non-political and contained ‘traditional’ elements.
- Radio propoganda greatly increased in the mid-1960s through the larger distribution of radios in rural areas and the use of FM transmission. The increase in propoganda coincided with Verwoed's aggressive ‘Grand Apartheid’ policies of the late 1950s and 1960s.
- In the post-apartheid period, single-language radio stations still exist, but today broadcasters are less interested in reifying tradition and are most interested in expressing cultural diversity.
- A major challenge in the post-apartheid era has been to generate local music products that can compete with, and perhaps be sold to, international markets. Today, local music quotas are required of public and commercial radio and television stations.
- The impact of foreign (and especially American) cultural products in South Africa was abivalent. Jazz, for example, was celebrated by many oppressed non-white South Africans as evidence of the success of non-whites abroad, and as a model of musical and social integration. Partly for these reasons, the apartheid government limited and controlled access to foreign media.
- Transnational entertainment corporations realized the commercial potential of the urbanizing black workforce in the early part of the 20th century.
- Major international record labels established marketing channels in South Africa as early as the 1920s.
- The SABC also recorded music, and focused on Boeremusiek (local Afrikaans-language music for romantic crooning and social dancing), European classical music, and the folk music of ‘tribal’ peoples.
- Gallo Records (started by Eric Gallo) was the main record label and music publisher of South African music in the 20th century. Started in 1932, only in 1949 did Gallo records begin to print its own recordings. Gallo recorded very little music with lyrics in English (since it was simply easier to import such music from England), but did record much music in Afrikaans, and also in indigenous African languages.
Independent labels and archival reissues
- In the years leading up to the end of apartheid, two major trends emerged in South African music recording:
- Various organizations and agencies began to reissue recordings of music recorded earlier in the 20th century. This was an effort to create a historical archive and to recuperate the many lost voices of South Africa's past.
- For the first time, black South Africans took control of the means of production. In the late 1980s and early 1990s the first black-owned record labels and independent radio stations were founded. The genre kwaito was the primary expression of this generation of black entrepreneurs, musicians, and cultural brokers.
- Films were first screened in South Africa in the 1920s.
- The most popular films in the 1920s and 1930s were those produced in America (and to some extent Britain) Several important films were made in South Africa in the 1950s.
- Zonk! is an African variety and jazz film showcasing performances typical of the 1940s and 1950s. Zonk! clearly illustrates the fascinating relationship between black South Africans and African Americans. Issues to be addressed here include: minstrelsy, technology and performance in South Africa, the new ‘urban’ black South African who largely rejected ties to ‘tribal’ or rural roots.
- Jim Comes to Joburg/African Jim and Song of Africa both deal with themes of migrant workers and the tension between the rural and the urban. American and American inspired jazz feature in both of these films.
In the post-apartheid era, the South African film industry has taken enormous leaps forward. The Academy Award winning film Tsotsi is particularly interesting in its use of kwaito. Yesterday, which was nominated for an Academy Award, examines HIV/AIDS in rural areas and also gender issues in contemporary South Africa.
Foreign music, live and mediated
- In a sense, the visits of international performers in the 1930s were replaced by international recordings in the 1950s.
- Television only came to South Africa in late 1975.
- Many English-speaking white South Africans felt that watching television was a good way to connect with other English-speaking countries (such as Britain and America)
- Almost all shows on South African TV in the late 1970s and 1980s were American. These shows were dubbed in Afrikaans or a black South African language.
- Note that part of the reason that only American (and not British) shows were broadcast on South African TV was because of the cultural boycott against South Africa. While Hollywood largely ignored the cultural boycott, British actors and film composers were actively involved in the anti-apartheid movement and refused to let their work be broadcast in South Africa. It is primarily for this reason that South African culture — between the years 1975 and 1990 — was far more influenced by American than British culture.
- In the late 1970s and 1980s, only European or American classical music and Afrikaans music was broadcast on South African TV.
- In the part-apartheid era, the SABC continues to control South African television (with the exception of the free independent channel E TV).
- Today, South African television broadcasts many types of local music: gospel, maskanda, mbaqanga, choral music, jazz, and kwaito.
- Dozens of local soap operas, talk shows, and game shows are broadcast in many different languages on South African TV today.
The piece above gives the listener/reader a sense of what it was like in the era of Apartheid rule, and what African people had to go to produce the music that one has been listening to above. In fact, there is more to this story and its history, that which concerned Africans in South Africa that it will take many books to write. but I will be looking into it with the next coming articles on the music of Africans in south Africa.