The Music of The People: Africans in South Africa and their Musical Sound Systems
Members Of Amampondo...
A Short History Of Townships Bands, Artists and Music
The music of the Townships as a genre was originated in the 1900s and is characterized by its musicians, who were often urban Township residents during the the Apartheid era in south Africa. The music of the Townships was created because of the presence of segregation during the time of segregation, and the musicians in the Townships created the music in response to the environment. The music of the Townships in South Africa began with the migrant laborers, who lived in area which were labor reserve and dormitories.
These poorly built houses which the African occupants had to rent, were built by Apartheid for its lower classes Africans. In the 1950s the Apartheid regime passed legislation to further consolidate the Apartheid state, and violent methods of implementation also assisted this along. One of the most serious legislation that was passed for urban African music was the Group Areas Act of 1950, which separated all racially mixed neighborhoods by removing African communities and relocating them on the peripheries and into townships.
From these ghettoes we are able to see emotions and creativity of musicians within the Townships due to a lack of power, resulted in the musicians' need to explore alternative musical paths. The Apartheid regime suppressed the music of jazz because it was music aspiring to musical and social equality. The aim of the Apartheid rulers was to form an ideology and program for separating and turning African South Africans against each other.
But, African people, who were a musical community, found many ways around the system and created music even when they were facing draconian laws and many African music lovers bought their music and gave them some serious form of support. Music amongst African South Africans is like breathing is to human beings, and they proved it by creating new genres of music where none existed.
South Africa's polyrhythmic and soulful songs are some of the best in the world. Sifiso Ntuli put it this way: "Song is something that we communicate to the people who otherwise would not have understood where we are coming from. You could give the long political speech and they would still not understand, but I tell you, when you finnish that song, people be like I know where you guys are coming from.' South Africa is distinguished by the most complex musical history, and the greatest profusion of styles and the most intensely developed recording industry anywhere in Africa.
Despite many regional and stylistic variations, its music - vocal based and long and deeply influenced by America and Europe, it is different from what one would hear anywhere else on the continent, or from nearby parts of central, for that matter, anywhere in the world. This is a country where you have twelve year-old children break out in complex harmonies whose time signatures defy the rigid regiment of the metronome, classic scoring is a foreign concept. For Africans in South Africa, everyday is a new song or two or three.
Throughout South Africa, there is a song for every event. In fact, South African African music is one of the most influential countries in the world of music, and it is also the homeland of some of the greatest and most popular artists in the world. Although from the 1900s, American Jazz music came into South Africa, and the Africans took to it and tried to imitate it, there has always been African folk music by all the 9 clans that comprise the Maguni/Bakone folk music which illustrates the the diverse and attractive use of instrumentation by these different ethnic groups, as well as different vocal styles, whilst maintaing a distinctly and uniquely African South African sound in texture and musical sounds.
This type of music and other types of music have large audiences and followers right throughout the country of South Africa and the continent of Africa. The singers of these folk songs sing about the day-to-day issues of the common man and they sing in styles that are appealing to their community and the world
We learn the following from Steve Gordon:
Africa's music market needs to be Africanised
FROM Osibisa to Salif Keita, the major names of African music have long been based in the Northern Hemisphere. Africa’s stars entered the world stage abroad, and returned home, celebrated like astronauts between space missions. Wined and dined at society functions, but seldom affordable or routinely accessible to Africans.
If Africa’s stars used to shine from afar, the exciting challenge of the new millennium is to ensure that they shine equally at home. This is possible, and imperative. Africa’s music market needs to be Africanised.
Conditions at the start of this new millennium bear little similarity to those faced by the young Miriam Makeba, Manu Dibango or Salif Keita faced when they left to forge their international debuts in strange lands. Society, technology and distribution mediums have set a new playing field.
Not yet Uhuru
It’s Africa 2002, and there’s possibility. But, it’s Not Yet Uhuru. The circulation, exchange and flow of African music on the continent remains blocked.
To understand the networks and forces underpinning the contemporary flow and distribution of African music, it is essential to realise how closely they have been shaped by colonialism and the relationships between what now are known as “developing?and “developed?countries. Such understanding is all the more important as we confront the realities of globalisation, and the massive impact it has on both culture and economy.
A home away from home, and an anchor in foreign markets
itical settlement in South Africa (1990’s), a combination of studio locations, record deals, tour itineraries and the inevitable “permits and papers?issues rendered it opportune for Africa’s artists to be resident in countries such as France, England or even the USA to build and sustain their music careers. For many others, circumstance prompted or forced exile from their homeland.
Under such conditions, artists naturally gravitated towards host countries with which their native lands had strong links. Not only did this offer the potential benefit of being able to converse in the host language ?but typically, business, travel and financial links with home. The presence of local immigrant communities provided some support network, a family-away-from-home, and a crucial core audience. England and France are best illustrative of the manner in which third world music forms flowed North after colonies attained independence.
Jamaica’s Rocksteady, Ska and Reggae were the first to flow to the international market through England in the late 1960’s, followed by the music of Nigeria, Ghana and other ‘Anglophone?African countries. Nigerian artists Osibisa, King Sunny Ade, and to a lesser degree the outspoken Fela Kuti ?are key names when tracing the build up to the ‘World Music?phenomenon of the 1980’s.
France has been pivotal to ‘World Music?for the past 20 years. The colonial legacy in Africa and the Caribbean, coupled with the presence of some of the world’s most developed arts infrastructure and cultural industries rendered the country a well equipped host to African music. The presence of a socialist government which prioritised arts and culture programmes did no damage.
Paris is the de facto African music capital of the world. Not only has it been home to icons such as Manu Dibango and the late Francis Bebey (both natives of Cameroon), but its studios have spawned distinctly Parisian hybrids, drawing on sounds from the African Diaspora.
Thus African Music emerged as a product which followed closely the neo-colonial trade relations of the 1970’s: The raw materials came from Africa, the product from Europe. While the Beatles or Rolling Stones did it at home, Africans went abroad, and by the turn of the Century, ownership in the bulk of African Music catalogue was resident abroad.
If African music was just an ethnographic curiosity during the 1960’s, by the mid 1990’s, a consumer market for what became known as “World Music?had established globally.
Sporadic as the markets in developed countries were to prove, they existed: Cultural space had been won. African music was circulating outside of Africa, but its artists also realized a need (and desired) to be back home.
With international profile and momentum established, an increasing number were able to locate their operations back home: Ismael Lo, having studied in Spain and worked in France, is now based in his native Senegal. Salif Keita lives in Bamako in his native Mali. Political settlement in South African paved the way for Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Abdullah Ibrahim, Letta Mbulu, Jonas Gwangwa, Caiphus Semenya and others to repatriate from their forced exile.
There are new opportunities and challenges for the new generation - Youssou Ndour is a prime example. Having established himself internationally, he works from Dakar, where he has set up both studio and nightclub; Femi Kuti, assuming the mantle of his late father Fela, operates from Lagos.
The new technologies for music production require far less capital outlay than those of a decade ago, a scenario which has contributed to a proliferation of small studios in Africa. It’s no longer just “raw talent?coming out of Africa, new expertise and technology propagate local product.
Straddling the divide between developed and developing economies in the new millennium, the established African music acts need to maintain profile and presence globally. There is market up north, and a market at home - different needs, different tastes. All tour extensively internationally, but while the occasional tour or protocol event allows circulation in Africa, the African market, audience and performance networks remain underdeveloped, and at times unreliable.
Circulation and presence in Africa comes at a price. Many of the groups backing established artists are multinational. Just add airfares to hard currency, and bringing an African “name?into Africa can be just as much a venture as importing a Euro pop act.
Local markets in Africa cannot sustain such movement without significant private or public sector finance, and aside from an elite few, consumers cannot afford the price of African music cds imported (or manufactured under license) from Europe.
The globalized African sound often contrasts starkly with that which artists perform or release back home: Some battle with the contradiction, whilst others have reconciled parallel worlds and audiences. Youssou N’dour’s domestic Senegalese releases ?mostly on cassette ?are a counterpoint to the multinational catalogue on Sony; Papa Wemba at times operates two backing bands ?Viva la Musica and Molokai, for African and European audiences respectively.
African audiences consume international media, and African music is but a small part of MTV, CNN or BBC programming. At home African music competes for ears, eyes and dancefloor feet with the full array of international pop music products. African audiences do not yet have the level of access to their music which the rest of the world enjoys. African audiences need to be Africanised.
From an African perspective the challenges are both cultural and economic: African music has a massive role to play in Africa of the new millennium. Music cannot just be a soundtrack to Nepad, it must be integral to Nepad.
What of artists living and popular within Africa, and their chances of surviving and forging careers with their home continent as their primary operating base? An integrated and unified Africa can certainly facilitate this, allowing circulation of artists and music, overcoming the colonial and linguistic divides which have fragmented its audience.
The rallying cry now should not be to repatriate all things African. We need to acknowledge the multiplicity of markets, and attach value to the profile which has been built with international audiences. We must be conscious of, but not captive to the legacy of music ownership, and associated obstacles.
The recent OCRE Conference, hosted by AFAA (French Association for Artistic Action) and the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of Natal, addressed some of the issues of cultural networking, including music. The stark imbalances between different African zones were explored. At the conference’s conclusion, a “Letter from Durban?was tabled, calling on policy makers in Africa to consider these factors when formulating policy for the next decade.
Priority areas identified included the need for intra-African co-operation, the promotion of regional and internal markets and audiences, the facilitation of mobility within Africa, and skills and curriculum development. A cohesive policy to stimulate inter-African cooperation is needed.
Ultimately, there’s a lot of catching up required. African music has to transform from being a niche market of imported product, to its inevitable and rightful role as the mai
Historical Sketches Of South African Music
My effort on this part is to give a sketch of the musical Timeline of South Africa.. Though it might not be extensive, but it will help give the reader a sense of what has bee happening in the music arena here in Mzantsi.
The whole piece below was taken from the South African History Online:
The Development of Music In South Africa Since 1600s to 2004...
In the Dutch colonial era, from the 17th century on, indigenous tribes people and slaves imported from the east adapted Western musical instruments and ideas.The Khoi-Khoi developed the ramkie, a guitar with three or four strings, based on that of Malabar slaves. They used it to blend Khoi and Western folk songs.Then there was the mamokhorong. It was a single-string violin that was used by the Khoi in their own music making and in the dances of the colonial centre, Cape Town, which rapidly became a melting pot of cultural influences from all over the world.The governor of the Cape had his own slave orchestra in the 1670s.
In a style similar to that of British marching military bands, coloured (mixed race) bands of musicians began parading through the streets of Cape Town in the early 1820s, a tradition that was given added impetus by the travelling minstrel shows of the 1880s. This tradition has continued to the present day with the great carnival held in Cape Town every New Year.The penetration of missionaries into the interior over the succeeding centuries also had a profound influence on South African musical styles. In the late 1800s, early African composers such as John Knox Bokwe began composing hymns that drew on traditional Xhosa harmonic patterns.The development of a black urban proletariat and the movement of many black workers to the mines in the 1800s meant that differing regional traditional folk music met and began to flow into one another. Western instrumentation was used to adapt rural songs, which in turn started to influence the development of new hybrid styles of music-making (as well as dances) in the developing urban centres.
In the mid-1800s, travelling minstrel shows began to visit South Africa. As far as can be ascertained, these minstrels were at first white performers in "black-face", but by the 1860s black American minstrel troupes had begun to tour the country. They sang spirituals of the American South, and influenced many South African groups to form themselves into similar choirs; soon regular meetings and competitions between such choirs were popular, forming an entire subculture that continues to this day.
Orpheus McAdoo and the Virginia Jubilee Singers were among the most popular of the visiting minstrel groups, touring the country four times. African American spirituals were made popular in the 1890s by Orpheus McAdoo's Jubilee Singers
Enoch Sontonga, then a teacher, composed the hymn Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika (God Bless Africa) Early 1900sIn the early 20th century, governmental restrictions on black people increased, including a nightly curfew which kept the night life in Johannesburg relatively small for a city of its size (then the largest city south of the Sahara).The Marabi music style formed in the slum yards that resulted from the increasing urbanisation of black South Africans into mining centres such as the Witwatersrand. The sound of marabi was intended to draw people into the shebeens (bars selling homemade liquor or skokiaan) and then to get them dancing. Marabi was played on pianos with accompaniment from pebble-filled cans. Over the succeeding decades, the marabi-swing style developed into early mbaqanga, the most distinctive form of South African jazz
South African popular music began in 1912 with the first commercial recordings.
Marabi's melodies found their way into the sounds of the bigger dance bands, modelled on American swing groups, which began to appear in the 1920s; Marabi added to their distinctively South African style. Such bands, which produced the first generation of professional black musicians in South Africa, achieved considerable popularity, particularly in the 1930s and 1940s: star groups such as The Jazz Maniacs, The Merry Blackbirds and the Jazz Revelers rose to fame, winning huge audiences among both blacks and whites.
The beginnings of broadcast radio for black listeners. This resulted in the growth of an indigenous recording industry and helped popularize black South African music. The 1930s also saw the spread of Zulu a cappella singing from the Natal area to much of South Africa.1933Eric Gallo's Brunswick Gramophone House sent several South African musicians to London to record for Singer Records. Gallo went on to begin producing music in South Africa.
The tradition of minstrelsy, joined with other forms, contributed to the development of isicathamiya, This music form had its first major hit this year with the song "Mbube", an adaptation of a traditional Zulu melody which has been recycled and reworked innumerable times since then, often known as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight".Solomon Linda's Original Evening Birds, recorded "Mbube" it was probably the first African recording to sell more than 100,000 copies.
From the late 1940s to the 1960s, a form of music called isikhwela jo was popular, though national interest waned in the 50s until Radio Zulu began broadcasting across Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State.
South African music came into International prominence with the formation of Kwela (Zulu for 'get-up' or in township slang it also referred to the police vans, the "kwela-kwela") music, which was greatly influenced by Marabi sounds. The primary instrument of kwela, in the beginning, was the pennywhistle, a cheap and simple instrument that was taken up by street performers in the shantytowns. Lemmy Mabaso was one of the most notable musicians of this genre.The older strains of marabi and kwela saw the birth of what is broadly thought of as mbaqanga, the mode of African-inflected jazz that had many and various practitioners, with a large number of bands competing for attention and income. Singing stars such as Miriam Makeba, Dolly Rathebe and Letta Mbulu gained fanatical followings.Later in the 1950s a new black urban music culture started to emerge in Sophiatown. Marabi met with traditional dance styles such as the Zulu indlamu and American big band swing. The indlamu tendency resulted in the "African stomp" style, giving a notably African rhythmic impulse to the music.The lawless domain which was Sophiatown was one in which black people could interact with the more adventurous, liberal whites drawn to the excitements of its nightlife, becoming a touchstone for the first real cultural and social interchange between the races to take place in South Africa.Miriam Makeba was a central figure in the African jazz scene throughout the 1950s. By the early 1960s, she was an international star and brought attention to South African apartheid.
1951Willard Cele appeared in the film The Magic Garden, which spawned a legion of more imitators and fans. Willard Cele is credited with creating pennywhistle by placing the six-holed flute between his teeth at an angle.
1954Spokes Mashiyane's "Ace Blues" became the biggest African hit of the year and launched pennywhistle as a mainstream genre.
The most progressive jazz-lovers of Sophiatown formed the Sophiatown Modern Jazz Club, propagating the sounds of bop innovators such as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. The jazz club sponsored gatherings and from such meetings grew South Africa's first bebop band, the important and influential Jazz Epistles: The earliest members were musicians destined to shape South African jazz from then on: Dollar Brand, Kippie Moeketsi, Jonas Gwangwa and Hugh Masekela.
The recording "Tom Hark" by Elias Lerole and His Zigzag Flutes was a hit around the world.In 1959, American pianist John Mehegan organized a recording session using many of the most prominent South African jazz musicians, resulting in the first two African jazz LPs.
The white Nationalist government brought the musically vital era, Sophiatown, to an end. They forcibly removed the inhabitants of Sophiatown to townships such as Soweto, outside Johannesburg. Sophiatown was razed and the white suburb of Triomf built in its place.In the wake of the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 and the subsequent State of Emergency and mass arrests, bannings and trials of activists challenging apartheid laws, more and more musicians found it necessary to leave the country.Many key figures in South African jazz developed their talents and their careers outside the country in the years of increasing repression, amoung them were: Dollar Brand (later Abdullah Ibrahim, after his conversion to Islam), Hugh Masekela, Jonas Gwangwa, Caiphas Semenya, Letta Mbulu, and Miriam Makeba Well-known South African Jazz band, The Blue Notes, left for England in 1960. The band included: Chris MacGregor, Dudu Pukwana, Mongezi Feza, Johnny Dyani and Louis Moholo.King Kong (the tale of South African black boxer Ezekiel Dlamini) became a hit, and travelled overseas.The Jazz Epistles recorded their first and only album, Jazz Epistle Verse One. At the same time, composers such as Todd Matshikiza (who composed the successful musical King Kong) and Gideon Nxumalo (African Fantasia) were experimenting with combinations of old forms and new directions.One key South African jazz performer of the 60's, and one of the country's most innovative musicians was Philip Tabane.From the 1960s onward, more and more white rockers and pop groups appeared to appeal to white audiences in a segregated South Africa.The First Cold Castle National Jazz Festival was held in 1960, which brought additional attention to South African jazz. Cold Castle became an annual event for a few year, and brought out more musicians, especially Dudu Pukwana, Gideon Nxumalo and Chris McGregor.
The South African government launched a development programme for Bantu Radio in order to foster separate development and encourage independence for the Bantustans. Though the government had expected Bantu Radio to play folk music, African music had developed into numerous pop genres, and the nascent recording studios used radio to push their pop stars. The new focus on radio led to a government crackdown on lyrics, censoring songs which were considered a "public hazard".Abdullah Ibrahim went overseas for the first time, to Switzerland. The pianist-composer met and impressed Duke Ellington himself, who sponsored his first recordings.
The 1963 Cold Castle festival produced an LP called Jazz The African Sound, but government oppression soon ended the jazz scene. Again, many musicians immigrated to the UK or other countries.
The Band Freedom's Children was formed, a band dedicated to the kind of "acid rock" pioneered in the USA by bands such as The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. American Soul Music and dances became a craze and appreciation amongst the Africans of South Africa.
One of the most successful 60's South African rock bands was 'Four Jacks and a Jill' (the name echoed their line-up of four men and a woman), they had their first number one hit with "Timothy".
Ibrahim managed to slip back into South Africa in the mid-1970s to make a series of seminal recordings with the Cream of Cape jazz players (Basil Coetzee and Robbie Jansen), which included his masterpiece, "Mannenberg", one of the greatest South African compositions ever, which became the unofficial soundtrack to the anti-apartheid resistance.In the mid-1970s, the "boy band" hit South Africa in the form of Rabbitt, four young men who kicked off their career with a cover of a Jethro Tull song and, in a singularly daring move, posed naked on their second album cover ("A Croak and a Grunt in the Night").
Ladysmith Black Mambazo, headed by the sweet soprano of Joseph Shabalala, released their first album, Amabutho, which was also the first gold record by black musicians. This band became perhaps the biggest stars in South Africa's history, reforming the sound of Zulu a cappella.
American disco was imported to South Africa, and disco beats were added to soul music. Reggae was also featuring big time into the South African music appreciation circles amongst Africans..
South African children rebelled en masse against apartheid and governmental authority, and a vibrant, youthful counterculture was created, with music as an integral part of its focus. Few South African bands gained a lasting success during this period, however, with the exception of the Movers, who used soul music signatures elements in their soul.(There were bands like the Flames, The Heores, The Inn-Laws, The Teenage Lovers and many other, and it was not only the Movers, but they along with the many listed groups held competitions in the Township Hals, Like DOCC, in Orlando, Naledi Hall, In Naledi, Uncle Toms Hall In Orlando West, Jabavu Stadium, where these festivals were held, Orlando Stadium and so forth.
Rabbitt disbanded. Bands like Varikweru, Batsumi and many more were banned or driven into exile.. Many Jazz and other genre's artist fled and left the country, since this was after the June 16th Revolution in Soweto.
The 1980s saw the appearance of Afro-jazz bands such as Sakhile and Bayete, marrying the sounds of African melodic signatures and cultural beats and riffs through African patterns, to considerable commercial success.A genre of music referred to as 'bubblegum'(This today is known as Twonship funk) emerged from the townships.By the mid-1980s a white alternative rock culture had developed, and showed considerable diversity. Johnny Clegg, a sociologist who learnt so much about Zulu music and dance that he jointly formed group, Juluka, with Sipho Mchunu, who designed the stage dances and composed the music led the charge. Juluka's ability to mix traditional Zulu music with white pop and folk was in itself a challenge to the racial boundaries the apartheid regime attempted to erect between blacks and whites. .Hugh Masekela set up a mobile studio in Botswana, just over the South African border. Here he collaborated with West and Central African musicians.
Following international superstar Bob Marley's concert celebrating Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, reggae took hold across Africa. Lucky Dube was the first major South African artists; his style was modeled most closely on that of Peter Tosh. Reggae was and is still one of the top genres listened to and appreciated by Africans in Mzatnsi today.
A key conference was held this year, 1982, The Botswana Festival of Culture and Resistance, it was attended by many South African exiles. The message to white participants - the Black Consciousness perspective dominated the festival - was the one that had been heard many times before: to regard their aim as the conscientising of fellow whites while leaving the task of liberation to the black oppressed. Culture, it was resolved, should be used as a weapon of the struggle, and the phrase, "cultural worker", began to replace "artist", "musician" or "writer". The musician Abdullah Ibrahim - who was at the time living in exile - summed up the mood of the festival when he castigated South Africans for living amid oppression but apparently not feeling the need to commit themselves to political issues: "After all the killings and everything...it's 1982 and we still have to tell the culture to resist!"
1983-1984The late 1980s saw the rise of Yvonne Chaka Chaka, beginning with her 1984 hit "I'm in Love With a DJ", which was the first major hit for bubblegum.
Brenda Fassie's huge hit 'weekend special' was released. Brenda Fassie is perhaps the most controversial and the best-known figure in township pop.This is also the year that fifty-four American pop artists, calling themselves "Artists United Against Apartheid" released the track "Sun City," which includes the lyric "Relocation to phony homelands Separation of families I can't understand Twenty-three million can't vote because they're black We're stabbing our brothers and sisters in the back." The song was nominated for a Grammy award and raised more than one million dollars for the anti-apartheid cause.
This decade saw the formation of a new style of township music grabbed the attention and the hearts of South Africa's black youth. That music was kwaito(Hi-Hop), probably now the biggest force in the South African music scene.Stars with names as minimal as their music - Mdu, Mandoza, Arthur, Chiskop and Zola, for instance - rose to prominence. Groups such as Bongo Maffin, Abashante, Boom Shaka and TKZee developed huge followings, propelled by a streetwise visual style, an in-your-face performance energy and a host of pop videos. Key recordings such as TKZee's "Halloween", Mdu's "Mazola", Chiskop's "Claimer", Boom Shaka's "It's About Time" and Trompies's "Madibuseng" swept the charts and dominated youth-orientated radio stations such as the wildly successful Yfm.Lucky Dube' album slave made him one of the best-selling artists in South African history
Vusi Ximba's Siyakudamisa (1992) was perhaps the most memorable Zulu-traditional album of the later 20th century, and drew controversy for racy, comedic lyrics.
In 1994, South African media was liberalized and new musical styles arose. Prophets of Da City became known as a premier hip hop crew, though a South Africanized style of hip hop known as kwaito soon replaced actual hip hop groups. In kwaito, synthesizers and other electronic instruments are common, and slow jams adopted from Chicago house musicians like The Fingers, Tony Humphries and Robert Owen are also standard. Stars of kwaito include Trompies, Bongo Maffin and Boom Shaka.1
Brenda Fassie made a significant comeback with her album "Memeza" (meaning "Shout"), which spawned the huge hit "Vulindlela" ("Clear the path" or "Make way")
In the new millennium, free of the baggage of apartheid, Afrikaans music has grown in popularity. A major addition to this style of music is Fokofpolisiekar, a Cape Town-based punk rock band. Their positive move away from the stigma attached to Afrikaans culture has attracted a lot of publicity in South Africa and has given them a considerable amount of fame.
Cultural Icon and Legend legend Brenda Fassie dies of a drug overdose.
2014 - OwardsSouth Africa is now undergoing a cultural renaissance moving on along the Y2K Era, and people are now rediscovering their musical roots, beats and rhythms...
Amakhosi "Young Diviners" Traditional healers dance...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OKnBL-9LF8
We are informed by Iziko Slave Lounge that:
Singing Freedom : Music and The Struggle Against Apartheid
Iziko Museums of South Africa is celebrating 20 years of democracy, with the exhibition ‘Singing Freedom: Music and the struggle against apartheid.’ Music played a vital role during the struggle against apartheid. The melodies, carried in the hearts of people, served as calls to action, inspired, encouraged, and motivated. The freedom songs provide a window into the history of the organisations, events and individuals that were part of the liberation struggle.
The exhibition demonstrates how events such as the 1952 Defiance Campaign, the Sharpeville Massacre and the Soweto Uprisings were accompanied by, and often also memorialized, through song. A host of stories are encompassed within the broader narrative of freedom songs. Oral history interviews, conducted by the curators with a range of former activists and with musicians, provide an opportunity to hear the testimonies and anecdotes of those who were intimately involved in some of the events and activities explored in the exhibition.
Singing Freedom gives visitors an opportunity to explore some of the freedom songs and music that accompanied South Africa’s journey towards democracy. “The road to democracy was littered with challenges and sacrifice. The struggle against apartheid is a significant achievement in the history of our people as demonstrated through this exhibition. No amount of silencing the masses repressed the multiple ways in which they aired their plight. Through song and music their circumstances were scored. Museums play a key role in development through education and democratisation, while also serving as witnesses of the past; and are guardians of humanity’s treasures for future generations of not only this country, but the world. The creation of this exhibition demonstrates how museums are relevant and inclusive places where people can share and explore our collective heritage and historic landscape through creative and poignant acts that challenged the Apartheid State,” says Rooksana Omar, CEO, Iziko.
Singing Freedom showcases the stories of the early composers such as Enoch Sontonga who first composed the hymn Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika, and the story of Vuyisile Mini, trade unionist and ANC member who composed some of the popular freedom songs and went to the gallows defiantly singing a freedom song in 1964. The exhibition also focuses on some of the musicians and bands from different musical genres who used their music as a voice against oppression.
Miriam Makeba’s album with Harry Belafonte – An evening with Belafonte and Makeba, for example, was mentioned by several people, during the ‘Singing Freedom’ project’s oral history interviews, as having played an important role in introducing them to freedom songs. Robbie Jansen and Basil Coetzee transformed Mannenberg into an anthem of the United Democratic Front in the Western Cape. Black Noise and Prophets of da City, two of the earliest hip–hop groups to emerge in South Africa, also added their voices to the call for an end to apartheid.
It is poignantly appropriate that the Iziko Slave Lodge, a site associated with the brutally oppressive system of slavery, hosts Signing Freedom, an exhibition that celebrates through music the undying yearning for freedom that characterized the resistance against apartheid.
Singing Freedom is curated by Paul Tichmann and Shanaaz Galant of the Iziko Social History Collections Department and will be on display at the Iziko Slave Lodge from 21 March 2014 until the end of April 2017.
Mbogeni Ngema - Lizobuya - Solidarity with the Arab Revolutions
Music and apartheid in South Africa
Hugh Masekela - Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela) live
Soweto Blues-Miriam Makeba( GRACELAND CONCERT WITH PAUL SIMON )
The Minister of Arts and Culture, Ms Lulu Xingwana, is preparing to present South African music to the world as a full delegation of officials, musicians and music industry representatives head for the French city of Cannes for the 44th annual MIDEM.
Regarded globally as the world's largest music industry trade fair, this year’s event gives a very special place to South African music and its industry with the country being named MIDEM’s Country of Honour in 2010.
As part of a full programme of events kicking off on Sunday, January 24th, Minister Xingwana will address a press conference attended by representatives of the global music industry media. Minister Xingwana will address the challenges facing the South African music industry as well as introduce many of the performing artists in attendance at MIDEM. Included in this line-up is Afro-soul, multi award-winner, Lira, acclaimed hip hop act ZuluBoy, roots music diva Thandiswa Mazwai, Ndebele star, Nothembi, Afro-folk veteran, Vusi Mahlasela, SAMA-nominated flautist Wouter Kellerman, live reggae favourite Tidal Waves, Afrikaans pop star Kurt Darren, and the Maletangwao Cultural Troupe. These South African artists – long with Benin’s Angelique Kidjo – will be performing for members of the worldwide music industry at MIDEM 2010’s opening party on the evening of January 24th. The music director for the two stages at this prestigious event is award-winning jazz pianist, composer and producer, Themba Mkhize.
Mkhize reveals he has prepared a music programme that draws on both South Africa’s diverse historical roots and the contemporary era. “It’s a potpourri of musical genres from Isicathimiaya to Afro Pop, Hip- Hop, Afro-jazz and much more,” Mkhize says. “The showcase is a melting pot of the old and what young South Africa has to offer. It’s also a tribute to all the music genres that have formed we who are today – not just the struggle songs and songs of freedom that many people know but Afrikaans songs, Ndebele songs and much more.
Adds Mkhize, “Having such a diverse lineup of artists to convey South Africa’s multi-faceted music past and present is a magical experience, and is going to go down brilliantly with the international music industry I am sure!”
Another key part of South Africa’s high-profile MIDEM presence is a two-hour focused music industry conference that takes place in Auditorium K, Level 4 between 3 and 5pm on Sunday January 24th. Participants represent South Africa’s global music industry and its cultural industries with panelists Sello Galane, (Maestro Musician, Academic and Entrepreneur), Sipho Sithole (Strategist, Management Executive, Distinguished Producer of multi-award winning artists, Member of DAC Advisor Committee), Guy Henderson (Senior Vice President, Sony / ATV Music Publishing), Rob Hooijier (Director for Africa Affairs at CISAC), Michelle Constant (Chief Executive Officer at Business and Arts South Africa), Ralph Simon (CEO, The Mobilium International Advisory Group) and Mangaliso Ngema –(Singer, Actor, Voice Artist, Presenter and Guitarist) addressing a range of issues facing the South African and African music industry.
Says Department of Arts and Culture’s Glenn Masokoane – Director: Cultural Development, “Between the brilliant live music and the serious business of music to be tackled by the mini-music conference, South Africa is going to be in the spotlight during this very important global music industry event.”
The South African presence at MIDEM 2010 will be further enhanced by a stand in the main Pavilion in Cannes. This will be used to showcase South African music, labels and organisations to delegates at MIDEM as well as by South African music industry representatives as a place to hold meetings and connect with their global counterparts.
Thandiswa Mazwai Nizalwa Ngobani LIVE
Joe Nina_ Sibali Awudeli
My black president - Brenda Fassie
Sarafina - versione originale omonimo musical
African Traditional, Spiritual, Church, Popular Music in South Africa
African Spiritual and Church and Mbube Music
Music for African people is for everyone and it also goes hand in hand with some form of dance and as background, and adn everyone participating as singers in the song. African people sang in school choirs, church choirs, in the many vocal groups that were all over the shanty towns, the reserves and the Townships. There are a lot of funeral dirges, wedding songs, songs for the ancestors, community vocal a cappella and songs for the struggle, Jazz and so on.
There are many different influences that have influence and affected African music in South Africa. The missionaries provided the first organized musical training into the country and this brought to light many of the African musicians like Enoch Santonga, who wrote the African National Anthem " "Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika". Around the end of the 19th century, South Africa elites in cities like Cape Town, Natal and Johannesburg were influenced by foreign musicians and sounds like the 'Ragtime', which gave rise to the music of the Colored by the 'Coons' and other new genre of African music.
And in 1890s, Orpheus McAdoo's Jubilee Singers popularized American Spirituals by the 1890s and this influence was made even more popular by singers like Mahalia Jackson. This led to the emergence of Gospel Music in the early twentieth century.
Before Christianity came to South Africa, people believed that the spirits of their ancestors controlled their daily lives, and they still do today. There was a central God, who was called "Umvelinqange" or "Moholomoholo" ("The Great, Great One" or "The "Old, Old one"). All this has more than historical interest because millions of African South Africans still worship their ancestors the old way. "Izigubhu" or "Meropa"(Drums) to call upon and communicate with their ancestors; they also use drums to sing and dance to the ancestors on special celebratory activities.
Many more Africans, especially the poor and poorly educated, merely gave up the "White Man's religion. They instead turned to other forms of worship which they have found more gratifying. There are three categories of these: The Ethiopians Movement (Inspired by Garveyism; The Zionists and The return to Ancestors Worship. These new, all-African, independent Christian churches were greatly influenced by mission churches from which they sprang. But they refused allegiance to any European source of authority. Instead, they espoused the Ethiopian line which, at its simplest.
From these, years later came a new and colorful offshoot of Christianity , called Zionism. As orthodox Christian influence has slipped, these independent and Zionist churches(they have nothing in common with Israel's Zionism), have multiplied. Today there are several thousands of them with a total membership in the millions.
The Zion Christian Church(ZCC) is the largest African Initiated Church in Southern Africa, with 10-15 million member belonging to the ZCC, and 3 to 5 million members belonging to the saint Engenas ZCC. ZCC, began in 1910, and have heir headquarters in Moria, in the Limpopo province, South Africa. Engenas Lekganyane, a former member of the Free Church of Scotland, apostolic FAith Mission and Zion Apostolic.
One of the most important missions of ZCC is to heal people and they have a very strong male contingent of singers in khaki jacket and trousers, with their made-from-tires-boots they use to stump on the ground as they sing in formation and according to age. Though their songs are sung in different South African languages, and they are more a cappella and soulful in their singing. The African Zion churches have also their peculiar singing style which in most times is accompanied by drum(Isgubhu), bells and some percussion along with hand-clapping.
Then there are the European Anglican churches, Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventists(who have affected music too amongst) Methodists and so forth. There are also Africans believe in their ancestors who sing being accompanied by "Isgubhu"(Drums) and some other percussion, dancing and singing.
The "Isgubhu" used to rouse the ancestors are smeared with red ochre mixed with animal blood on the drum skin, and heated next to fires for the best part of the early night. In the deep of the night, when paid, these sacred drums have a haunting and eerie sound accompanied by singing and hand clapping.
Mbube, Iscathamiya, Ngomabusuku, Isishameni, Umzansi and Ummqongo Styles
Music is everywhere and anytime amongst the Africans in South Africa. There is music sung by children in the street, the youth in several places and occasions like weddings and other community celebrations. One of the most interesting and powerful genres of African popular music is called or known as "Mbube music" or "Iscathamiya" or "INgoma Busuku", sung mostly in a cappella mode and all the group are composed of all males singing all various parts of the harmony in very melodious rendition and tradition.
This music really started in the 19th century when the American Minstrel shows became very popular form of stage entertainment. For African audiences, however, no visiting minstrel troupe created a deeper impression than the Orpheus MCAdoo's Minstrel, Vaudeville and Concert Company. Between 1890 and 1898, McAdoo, one of the first Afro-Americans of note to visit South Africa, made two phenomenally successful tours of the country that lasted ore than five years.
By the turn of the century, in the wake of McAdoo's tours, minstrel had reached even remote rural areas in South Africa, where mission school graduates formed minstrel troops and they adopted names such as , "AmaNigel Coons", "Pirate Coons", or "Yellow Coons".
The most well known is the world Renowned "Ladysmith Blackmambazo". This traditional music is still alive and well in South africa and there are hundreds of groups that sing Mbube music. This music was made popular by migrant workers in all the industrial center like Johannesburg and the city of Durban in Natal. They also hold weekly all night competitions that might involve as many as 30-40 choirs, from the vital artery of Mbube music.
They sung a complex and variety of traditional and modern styles that are themselves the products of a long process of modernization, urbanization and rural-urban interaction. This music also reflects upon the experiences and struggles of generations of migrant workers which the Mbube performers moulded these diverse idioms into a unique expression of Zulu songs for the poor and working class identity.
Apart from the more urban 'ragtime' and 'coon song' influences, veteran performers identify two further, rural sources of early Mbube music: "Ngoma"(Zulu for music) light dance and wedding songs and the hymnody of rural missions congregations in the districts of Dundee, Newcastle and Vryheid in the Natal Interior, South Africa. These areas have been subjected to intense missionization and were part of the established coal mining center of this region, and this accounts for the Mbube origins.
Removal of Africans from the lands and being placed in the crowded so -called Native reserves by the colonialists for free and cheap labor supply from the Africans to cities like Johannesburg and Durban, facilitated for the formation of the music. Ngoma is a collective term for great variety of dance styles such as 'Isishameni', 'Umzansi', and 'Umqongo' which originated among farm laborers in the Natal midlands during the 1920s.
The early protagonist of 'Isishameni' created a new song style incorporating the more western hymn based wedding songs in 'Izingoma zomshado'((Wedding Songs) into traditional material. By the 1920s, these wedding songs were already danced to steps derived from urban "raking" movements popularized by a man called Caluza. To the present day, choirs maintain a practice of "Ukureka"(Ragtime) while entering the hall from the door. The accompanying songs are called "Amakhoti(Chords) and according to the veteran, Paulos Msimanga, are borrowed from African wedding songs.
According to T. Pewa, most Mbube performers "first heard of [Western] music at school and were encouraged by teachers to sing church hymns ... By singing in church we got to know that that there is soprano, alto, tenor and bass, and not singing in unison as the Ngoma dancers do ... After we left school, we continued to sing. We just wanted show that males could do it without females."
Experimenting with wedding songs and other African traditional material, and incorporating elements of the "Isikhunzi" tradition, Solomon Linda, a young migrant laborer form Pomeroy in Natal, had begun to formulate a style that emphasized strong bass lines, soft falsetto solos, and a repetitive I-!V-14-6-v7 harmonic pattern that characterized much of South African African working class music.
Linda became the first Mbube to introduce group uniforms and in 1939, his group, the 'Evening Birds' attracted the attention of Gallo recording company and producers, where Linda worked as a packer. The first recording, "Mbube"("Lion") not only became an instant success, but its title soon became synonymous for the entire genre: "Mbube".
There were Mbube Groups with names like the "Dundee Evening Birds"(1948), "Natal Champions"(1935), "Dundee Wandering Singers"(1950), Ngobese's Morning Light Choir"(1947, "Bantu Glee Singers"(1932), "Fear No Harm Choir"(1934), "African Zulu Male Voice Choir"(1935), Choir"(1935), "Shooting Stars"(1947), "Durban Crocodiles"(1969), King Star"(1968) and "Ladysmith Blackmambazo"(1967), just to name some of the well known and famous few Mbube Groups.
One other thing worth noting is that Linda's influence on later Mbube groups was, however, not restricted to musical sounds. I. Sithole recalls that the dance, called 'istep'(step), highlighted uniformly of movement and a "soft touch." Whereas "isikhwela Joe" performances were characterized by still and static body postures, Mbube dancing featured slow, but intricate footwork contrasting with a straight, uninvolved torso. Both the stalking choreography and the close harmony, deep resonant bass sound of Mbube remain the basis of all succeeding styles until present. Mbube transitioned to smooth, low key "Cothoza Mfana" and "Iscathamiya sound" of the late 1960s and 1970s.
Etymologically, "Iscathamiya" derives from "cathama", "to walk softly," while "Cothoza Mfana" is best translated as as "walk steadily, boy". "Cothoza Mfana" was the name of the show launched by South African Broadcaster(SABC), Alexius Buthelezi who launched it in the 1960s. The development of "Cothoza Mfana" should be also be attributed to the King Star Brothers. "Cothoza Mfana" eventually replaced Mbube as the most common term for Zulu male choral singing.
In terms of musical substance, Cothoza Mfana shared the same tonal, structural and rhythmic features with its predecessor styles like "Isikhwela Joe" and "Mbube". The discovery of Mbube music by the Zulu radio service of the SABC, and Buthelezi's "Cothoza Mfana" Show popularized Mbube or "Cothoza Mfana" beyond the community of migrant workers. Since the early 1970s and due to outstanding musicianship of the Ladysmith Blackmambazo, Mbube music, "Cothoza Mfana" or "Scathamiya" found millions of fans throughout South Africa.
Shabalala's [of the Mamabazo] contribution to "Isicathamiya/Mbube was to offer a new narrative style that combines poetic sensitivity with deep, metaphorical Zulu. Like few popular musicians before him,he was able to give meaningful expression to the experience and thoughts of millions of African South Africans. Shabalala said: "To make a song is like writing a book. Remind the people of the olden things, tell them about the future. Just try to help them."
Marabi, Kwela and Mbaqanga - Authentic African South African Original Sounds
Africans, in their struggle against Apartheid, Apartheid South African Radio Stations and predator Recording studios like Gallo Records, tried to find their own identity by pioneering Marabi, Kwela and Mbaqanga Sounds. They were also avoiding being swamped by the Bebop, and American sounds. From the time when the settlers set their foot in South Africa, attacks were made on the authentic traditional Music of the People.
When Vasco da Gama landed in the Cape, he was flabbergasted when he saw the Khoi play five flutes at a time. The colonialists who invaded South Africa have been trying to get a grip on African music, that was then, as it is still now, fully integrated in their everyday life, playing an important role at wedding ceremonies, funerals, initiation rites, daily work and entertainment.
Even in the early stages of the colonization, the oppressors realized that, unless they were able to break the cultural fiber that gave the African people their sense of pride and cultural identity, it would be a difficult process to administer them political or exploit them economically. Thus it was that, at certain stages in South African history, some folk songs, usually sung at funerals or in war, were either discouraged or banned.
In the late 19th century mineral revolution in South Africa created an African proletarian melting pot of various African ethnic groups, cultures and traditions which soon manifest itself in a variety of songs,dances and instrumentation. The miners gave performances during their leisure time of a cultural blend of African melodies and demonstrated their exposure to a variety of cultural influences that of the Malay Slaves and a bit of the colonizers' musical cultures.
By the 1900, African slums and shanty towns, built particularly around the mining compounds, and African culture was so diversified that a 'epical urban cultural tradition was born, woven around the means of survival in poverty and from police pass raids'. The one escape form everyday misery was the Shebeen(Jook joints-like), which were places where 'illicit' alcohol beverages were sold.
The Shebeens were important in that they played a significant role in the development of urban African musical culture because various urban songs were performed there. They became the working pace for the unemployed musicians, who could in this way avoid working for white bosses.
Marabi - Original African Music Played with Western Instrument
The music called Marabi(meaning "to Fly Around") was born out of a call for modern African urban music from every African groups, and it was also really born out of the Shebeens. Marabi is an African polyphonic sound and was the cultural interpretation of African music in an urban environment and it was played using Western instruments like tambourines, guitars,concertina and bones, pebble-filled cans and pianos.
The music of Marabi was a form of protest against exploitation and an escape from day-to-day misery. Later on Marabi was played on an organ by, among other, the renowned Boet Gashe from Queenstown, which was nicknamed "Little Jazz Town". the great significant character of Marabi was its multi-ethnic dimension, and it was diametrically opposed to the oppressors divide-and-rule ideology of the apartheidizers. Marabi was more than music, it was much more the expression of a new cultural development among the growing urban African workers.
The organ was later on added to the instruments of Marabi, and Boet Gashe from Queenstown, nicknamed "Little Jazz Town", was among the fist musicians to use it. Marabi as a music genre had an multi-ethnic character, that was diametrically opposed to the oppressors ideology of divide-and-conquer as its policy. Marabi was more than music, it was more so the expression of a new cultural development among the growing urban African workers.
Marabi first appeared between the 1920s all throughout to the 1940s in the Johannesburg slumyards in South Africa. Marabi was not only influenced the the social economic and social conditions, but was influenced by a variety of other issues by assimilating a large amount of performance tradition into one main style of music. Marabi may also means a lawless, loose person or rowdy environment. Robinson states that in the Empire Exhibition, Marabi music was not allowed to be part of the show indicating the selective enthusiasm of White audiences for contemporary African performance.
Marabi was criticized because it was associated with the culture of heavy drinking, and that if reflected the 'dangers' of free Africans. This music was disliked because it originated in the urban Township, and this form of Township music dynamics and hardships of urban life in slum-yards. Coplan says that Marabi lyrics were considered rather 'loose' in that the participants were free to make up lyrics to suit the melody as they wished and also were well-known for being an expression of political protest at the time.
The Jazz Maniacs, around 1935 to 1944, were the leaders in playing the music of Marabi. In 1982, Wilson "Kingforce" Silgee offered this historical account of Marabi: "We were the most popular band The Jazz Maniacs). I knew Marabi beat and Zuluboy was a Marabi pianist. so we put that beat into our music. That's why we had a bigger following. The roots of the African people; we had them in our rhythm.
Marabi used to happen over weekends when the "girls" were off,and the domestic workers were given given of. It used to take place from Friday until Monday morning. The Jazz Maniacs stood well into the 1950s when "Mbaqanga" became popular and the band could not join in Sophiatown. If the Marabi was specially loved among African(unskilled) workers, the African middle class developed an interest in American jazz.
Partly due to World War II, the import of American jazz stagnated(there were jazz movies), and there was a gap in the market which was gratefully filled by the South African musicians. Singers like Dolly Rathebe from Sophiatown became hugely popular with their arrangements(not copies, but versions with their won African arrangements) of successful American Jazz tunes.
Increasingly, jazz became an inalienable part of Africans in the South African music scenes, manifesting itself particularly in the ethnic and cultural melting pot of Sophiatown, the legendary demolished suburb of Johannesburg [and in its place town called "Triomf" (Triumph), was built by the Apartheid regime] - my addition]."
Pennywhistle Jive - Kwela Music
The music of Kwela was first produced by children in the African Slums as they creatively imitated their favorite jazzmen. Pennywhisles were overlooked by overseas audiences and they were considered to be a child's instrument. It may not have met with friendly ears from the White folks, but Africans managed to look upon Kwela as an authentic expression of their urban culture rather than an indolent pastime of juvenile delinquents.
Kwela was even regarded was even regarded as the new, close-harmony Township style based on Marabi or on the songs of the migrant worker, most of it was original. Just like Marabi, Kwela music became popular despite the adversities that it faced. In fact, young urban Africans danced to Kwela Music, which to some, entailed a sexually suggestive form of jive dancing where the dancers shouted the world, Kwela(meaning, climb up or climb on , or climb, which might mean anything to climb on top of, or come on and join in the dance).
Kwela turned to be profitable for the city of Johannesburg, where it was born, and it competed with imported music and was also well commercialized by studios in Johannesburg.
Pennywhistle jive , focused as usual in Johannesburg city, was one of the first musical styles to become a commercial phenomenon and the very first to win a measure of International renown. The indigenous predecessors to the Pennywhistle was the reed flute of cattle herders, with three finger holes.
When the herd boys came to the cities, they were able to buy similar "tin" whistles with six finger holes, made in Germany. Willard Cele has been credited with creating a Pennywhistle by placing the six-holed flute between his teeth at an angle. Cele spawned a legion of imitators and fans, especially after appearing in the 1951 film "The Magic Garden".(Wiki)
Copland states that this particular style makes use of a unique combination of instruments including the string bass, the guitar, drums and several Pennywhistles to construct the strong repetitive melodic line. Groups of flautists paid on the streets of South African cities in the 1950s, many of these Pennywhistle players played in White areas, and the police would come and arrest them for creating public disturbance.
Some young Whites were attracted to the music, and came to be known as "Ducktails", and they were regarded as juvenile delinquents and they loved this music called "Kwela". Pennywhistle jive also spread outside of South Africa, and this was through the migrant workers, to Lesotho, Swaziland and Malawi(Wiki)
It took several years for the record companies to wake up to the commercial potential of the Pennywhistlers. Little flute material was released until 1954, When Spokes maashiyane''s "Ace Blues" backed with the 'Kwela Spokes" became the biggest African hit of the year. Only then did record producers begin to take the flute jive seriously, and in the following decade around a thousand a thousand 78 rpm discs were issued. After is initial success, Spokes Mashiyane remained the most single and famous Pennywhistler, although another flute star, Abia Temba was also very popular throughout the 1950s.
The beginning of the end of the Pennywhistle craze can be precisely pinpointed and traced with the song "Big Joe Special", Spokes Mashiyane's first recording on the saxophone. Much as his "Ace Blues" had created sales sensation and inspired a legion of imitators four years before, and "Big Joe Special" proved to be the trendsetting hit of 1958. In its wake, every African producer now wanted material by similar-style sax players, and most Pennywhistlers, assuming they could get a saxophone, were happy to provide it.
After the success of "Big Joe Special", sax jives overtook Pennywhistle recordings in popularity to become the most popular African musical genre, and this was a development which did not meet with African universal approval. One jazz saxophonist, Michael Xaba, disdainfully referred to the new style as "Mbaqanga" - literally a "Dumpling" or some 'amorphous indistinguishable mixture' in Zulu, and in this instance, it meant "homemade" sounds - because most of its practitioners were musically illiterate.
Ironically, the name soon gained a common currency as a term of endearment and indeed, the public's taste for instrumental "Mbaqanga" went on to last up to today and still progressing very rapidly and in some way, artists like Phuzekhemisi, have turned Mbaqanga into a political music. As well Spokes Mashiyane, the other key figure in sax jive, and in the whole South African music business, was West Nkosi, who was Gallo Recording Studios Mbaqanga saxophonist and an eminent producer.
Mbaqanga and Mqashiyo: African South Africans Original Music
The popular music of African South South Africans in the Townships has been an outlet for both frustration and exuberance - an expression of a people's ever - vital spirit in the fact o oppression. Like the Blues or Reggae, Township styles known collectively as "Mbaqanga" or "jive" transmuted African traditional melodies and rhythms into electric urban popular African music.
The restless city and Township energy poured out of the singers with 'open throated' abandon. Mbaqanga is a progeny of Marabi and Kwela styles of the Africans. It is a multi-ethnic music from different groups, but more specifically, it is the continuation of the Marabi and Kwela music from the Townships, with a little, but not significant touch of American jazz. But as a musical genre, it has its own original freshness and originality analogous to its place in African music history.
Mbaqanga as a musical genre in South Africa is very popular amongst South Africa. In the early 1950s, SABC along with the government created what was know as 'Msakazo', beamed from the Redifisions(Radiofusion), whereby the radio studios had speakers installed in the Township houses, and the programming was doe from the SABC African studios. The music of Iscathamiya, Marabi, Kwela and the music of Lekganyane and the Zionists was played up to a certain time in the evening: meaning, it was blast through these in-build house speakers to the African population.
In fact, Mbaqanga, whether in the hall or stadium festival are the most attended and biggest of all the festivals in South Africa. Mbaqanga shows are characterized by several segments, beginning with a more traditional form of music, dance and costume transitioning to a more westernized form, and closed with a more African traditional dance and music format. The lyrics of Mbaqanga do consist of short couplets, according to Copland, but they also contain messages which deal with peoples day-to-day lives and with people like Phuzekhemisi who have gone political and other groups like Ama SAP and so forth, are the favorite amongst the african audiences.
The instruments used in Mbaqanga change according to the band and musicians. But, their instruments include, guitars, drums, pianos, organs, Accordions, violins, drums and percussion and sound effects both vocally and technico-digitized sound production, and they also use a wah-wah paddle to affect the sound of the lead guitar, sometimes following the melodic vocalization of the women, who sang in all African languages in south africa.
One thing important about Mbaqanga was that its recordings show the development of women Mbaqanga recordings by female harmony groups. Beginning with the Dark City Sisters, who were immensely popular during the the fifties and sixties in many parts of the African Continent, these recordings were mostly by women artists. The music of the Dark City Sisters had a full impact on the Music of Zaire, Malawi, Zimbabwe Maputu and other African Musicians throughout Africa.
The Dark City Sisters were much more than the greatest close harmony ensemble of their era(mid-1950s to id-1960s). A huge landmark in the history of modern South African music, and they brought a timeless freshness, originality ad excitement to a scene dominated by Western Jazz and Pop. The Dark City Sisters, more than any of their contemporaries, marked the transition from only imitating American Jazz and pop on record to a much more indigenous local pop hybrid, mixing Marabi Jazz with the harder sounds of Kwela(pennywhistle music) and Mbaqanga/Township Jive.
Jouyce Mogatusi's Dark City Sisters were under the direction of "talent scout" Rupert Bopape, , building on the foundations of artists like Miriam Makeba, who also performed as part of the Skylarks. The group's rise almost mirrored the growth of rock 'n roll. Despite difficult working conditions at the time, under apartheid, against all odds, some of the greats managed to overcome the strict controls and manipulation in order to create something vibrant and lasting.
The 50s saw the flowering of African Culture in many spheres, paralleling the general opening-u of society in the West. There were developments in journalism - especially typified by Drum Magazine, which helped broaden social and political awareness as well as promoting nationwide appeal of musical personalities.
Music poured out of Shebeens(Jook-Joints) and everywhere there was a wind-up gramophone that played the 78 rpm's. Street musicians, often kids playing Pennywhistles, busked on the sidewalks. There was also another group called the "Flying Jazz Queens", who were the friendly rival of the Dark City Sisters with similar backing. It was common in those days to sometimes include songs by other artists when an album of a particular group's singles was being compiled. Like the Dark City Sisters, the Flying Jazz Queens also released a string of hits.
The music of the Dark City Sisters, the Flying Jazz Queens, and many others gave ordinary people a moment's escape into pure pleasure and a reminder of a rich cultural heritage. In one of their original sleeve notes to one of the Dark City Sisters' album they stated: "Forget your troubles and just get happy!"
All of these positive developments were soon overshadowed by the increasing brutality of the inhuman racist political system(Apartheid), whose last vestiges have yet to be eradicated in the year 2010 and beyond. In 1963 Bopape left EMi for Gallo taking Mahlathini and others with him. later Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens were to inherit the musical supremacy that was once the preserve of the Dark City Sisters for over a decade.
From the 1960s onwards we see the emergence of the Mahotella Queens with their male singer known as the "groaner" hit the Mbaqanga music scene which they later called "Umqashiyo"(Zulu word for "Bounce" - Although"Mqashiyo was actually a name for a popular dance akin to "Ukuqhobosha" usually danced in weddings and celebrations by young girls).
The dancing done by the women to the music and the rhythms on stage are all in sync with the music of Mbaqanga and they do a lot of "Ukuqhhobosha and their dance is the music altogether is called Umqashiyo. Their soaring vocals, often in counterpoint with the deep voice of the 'groaner' Mahlathini, were matched with some of the hottest Mbaqanga rhythms and they were the best group of all time.
The groaning of Mahlathini was at first considered to be a commercial gimmick invented by AaronJack Lerole of EMI's Black Mambazo in the early 1960s. Lerole subsequently gained a measure of groaning fame as "Big Voice Jack", and in the process, managed to permanently strip his vocal chords. His efforts were soon overtaken by Simon "Mahlathini" Nkabinde. As a teenager, Mahlathini secured a considerable reputation as a singer at traditional weddings in Alexandra Township, next to Johannesburg, where he led a large female group in typical African polyphonic fashion.
His magnificent bass voice was well suited to the groaning style. The groaning style Mahlathini used is a well-known sound and voice found in many singing groups, choirs and ther African musical troupes within the African Community in South Africa. In many Township groups who sing in weddings and celebrations, one finds a groaner or several of them in the background backing up the female or other male singers. This can also be observed or heard from the dancing and singing male choirs of the Lekhanyane choirs.
In some other Mbaqanga music like BheKumuzi Luthuli, "Amaswazi Emvelo" and others , you not only find the lyrics containing a narrative about daily live ups and downs, but they also do a Zulu rap("Izithakazelo- praises of one's family, clan or ones prowess in fighting or anything deemed worth rapping about). Amaswazi Emvelo" band are an exuberant vocal trio(Albert "Jerry" Motha, Wison Buthelezi and Sipho Madondo, backed by a powerful guitar and organ band.
Johnson Mkhalali is a prominent accordion jive specialist. "Dilika" and "Jozi" are two of the Zulu groups led by David Mtshali and Moses Mchunu respectively. Then there is "Abafakazi" with Osiazi Ntsele on the vocals and they employ the distinctive Mbaqanga sax sound and jumping bass in the repertoire. "Nganesiziamfisa" No "Khambalomvaleliso" are one of the very popular Zulu-guitar/traditional groups.
Soon, all the essential Mbaqanga elements coalesced under the Mavuthela production facility; the male groaner roaring in counterpoint to intricately arranged five-part female harmonies, underpinned, - thank to the "Makhona Tsohle (Manages Everything) Band - with new style, totally electric instrumental back up; and this band had an ace guitarist guy called Marks Mankwane on the helm and he helped to provide the driving beat.
This band also contributed to the sax jive instrumental showcasing West Nkosi. The members of this supergroup came from many varied clans and cultural groups in South Africa, and they comprised of the Zulus, Sothos, Pedis, Swazis, Xhosas and the Shangaan peoples. This was the case with many Mbaqanga groups throughout South Africa. After several years of growing popularity, vocal mbaqanga began to be referred to as "Mqashiyo" ("Bounce" dance by women mostly- form the "Ukuqhobosha" dances done by women when singing in a choir at a wedding or celebration). In this case we can mention the "Mthembu Queens", The "Dima Sisters", "Mgababa Queens" "Izintombi Zesimanjemanje" and the Makgonatsohle Band, and the Mahotella Queens, and so on.
One of the crucial developments leading towards Mbaqanga's characteristic harmonies was the use of five vocal parts rather than the four-part harmonies common in African-American vocal styles. The African female studio vocalists discovered that if the single tenor line was divided into a high and low tenor par, the resulting harmonies took on a breadth that was reminiscent of African traditional vocal styles.
Copland says that the songs of Mbaqanga start with a lead guitar introduction, followed by by the bass(sometimes the bass opens a songs), followed by the bass melody pattern based on the F-C-G7-C formula played over a bouncing 8/8 Township rhythm.
In the 1970s, the female chorus-plus-groaner formula retained its popularity when practiced by old favorites like the Mahotella Queens, but almost every successful new Mbaqanga group had an exclusively male line-up. In the mid-1970s, David Thekwane produced a string of hits at Teal Records with the "Boyoyo Boys", and then there were the Soul Brothers and others.
They were originally assembled s a a studio backing band for sax jive artist Thomas Phale, the same musicians later accompanied and lent their collective name to a male vocal group led by principal composer Petrus Maneli and their half-chanted harmonies and loping rhythms gave the Boyoyos a totally unique sound. One of their biggest successes, "Puleng", later caught the ear of British Producer Malcolm McClaren who subsequently transformed it into the 1981 British number one hit "Double Dutch"
Mbaqanga is still the main music of Africans in South Africa, and just because in the 1960s and 1970s , Soul, Disco and Pop music somewhat took-over the Music scene in South Africa, Mbaqanga never went into obscurity as claimed by some people. Yes, Paul Simon may may have launched Ladysmith Blackmambazo with the help of Hugh and Mirriam, and Mahlathini's appearance in Wembley Stadium and in Festivals in France and Central Park in New York, but Mbaqanga has never died nor stopped being popular in south Africa.
This propelled the Mbaqanga as a musical genre fully into the International stage and musical front. Mbaqanga morphed into a new genre I would preferably call the Songs of the People. Just as Mbaqanga evolved from Marabi and Kwela. 'Th e Songs and the Music of the People' , as a genre, evolved into and from a very powerful mixture of Mbaqanga, Kwela, Marabi, and African Jazz, which has a crowded field of artists never mentioned before.
Dark City Sisters : Langa More
The Mgababa Queens - Maphuthi
Soul Brothers: Mama Ka Sibongile (Live in Concert)
The Indestructible Beat Of Soweto
Mahotella Queens - "Kazet"..
The Mthembu Queens - Emjindini
These are The Songs and the Music of the People
The Soul Music which hit the United States in the early and late sixties affected the music and dance amongst the youth in South Africa. The should music from Booker-T and the MG's, Ottis Redding, Wison Pickett, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, The Impressions, Diana Ross and the Supremes Marvin Gaye, Percy Sledge, Brooke Benton, The Jackson Fives, Donny Hathaway, The Isley Brothers, The Meters, The O'Jays, War, The Temptations, The Staple Singers The Spinners The Beatles The Crudsaders, George Benson, Herbie Hancock, Houston Person, Jimmy Smith, John Patton. The Three Sounds, Tom Scott, Weather Report and a host of Jazz musicians from Ragtime, Louis Armstrong, to Wynton Marseilles and contemporary young jazz lions and R&B, Disco and house music. But in the sixties, it was the soul music from the United states which gave rise to "Soul Music' in South Africa.
The African Groups that were playing their Township brand of soul were the 'In Laws', 'The Movers, The 'Beaters'(who later called themselves 'Harari'), The 'Teenage Lovers', The Red Flames, The 'Heroes', The 'Movers, The Flames and many many more. The music was exploding in South Africa and there were many dance troupes that were created like the 'High Balloons' and other groups who were holding dance competitions all over the halls and stadium and in the yards of many homes, sponsored by locals.
Mbaqanga has always, form its beginnings, been part of the local music scene, no matter which genre is in fashion. So that,even during the era of soul music or Kwaito in the Townships, Mbaqanga was still and is still is King. But Soul music in the Twonsips took it s own turn, that some groups kept on playing the Township brand of Soul, and some evolved to a more Afro-beat sound like the group 'Harari', 'Varikweru', 'The Kabasa', 'Batsumi'(Hunters) banned along with 'Varikweru' by Apartheid. Some were dismantled by the security forces for their political content and were never known nor recognized.
The music for the african people evolved with groups and individuals like The VIP's Babsie Mlangeni, 'Mpharanyana and the Peddlars', 'The All Rounders', 'Margaret Mcingana', 'Gilbert Matthews and Spirits Rejoice', 'The Group Joy'\ with Felicia Marion' known as the South African Supremes, Individual artists like 'Themba Mokoena', 'Baba Mokoena', 'Bakithi Khumalo', 'Paul Ndlovu', 'District Six' the Band, 'Mara Louw', 'The Drive', 'The Young Lovers', 'Victor Ndlazilwana and the Jazz Ministers', 'Juluka', 'Jabula' and many others. This was a time in South African music evolution when all the musical genres, new and old colluded and collided. Petty apartheid was introduced, and there were more jazz goups that were born in the musical mix and beat.
Victor Ntoni - "Umaxhosa"...
Bokani Dyer @ The Mahogany Room 30 March 2013 - "Vuvuzela"
South African Jazz Greats Tlale Makhene...
Sello Galane: Pula (Live in concert)...
Best of Stimela...
Margaret Sigana - "Hamba Bhekile"...
Zonke - "Feelings"...
Letta Mbulu - Use Mncane (Little One)...
South African Jazz
South african Jazz has had many elements contributing to its evolution and development, and the most prominent and significant being the rich and eclectic cultural diversity of the country's inhabitants and their culture and musical culture together. As has been noted above, McAdoo and his Minstrels had a profound impact on the music of south Africa including Jazz. For instance, the history of the African Jazz Pioneers goes back to the early fifties when jazz was the fashion and big bands were the name of the game and the music of the day. It was when Dorkay House(at the end of Eloff Street, Johannesburg) provided a haven for South Africa's music and Arts , Drama, Music school and performances.
On any single day in Dorkay House was the place that one could find and bump into legends like Dollar Brand(Piano), Kipipie Moeketsi(1st Alto), MacKay Davashe((Tenor), Jonas Gwangwa(trombone), General Duze(Guitar), Sol Klaaste(Piano), Ben Makwela(Drums), Bnny "Gwigwi" Mrwebi((2nd Alto), Jacob Lepere(Bass), Hugh Masekela(Trumpet, Flugel horn), (Louis Molubi(Drums), Shumi Ntutu((1st Alto), Paul Rametsi(Tenor), Dugmore "Darkie' Slinger(Trombone), Reggie Msomi(Lead Guitar), Jordan Bangazi(2nd Trupet), Johannes "Chooks"Tshukudu(Bass), Billy Zambi(Solo), Chris columbus(Baritone), Blyth Malindi Mbityana(Trombone), Dennis Mpale(Trumpet), Rex Ntuli(guitar, Peter Mokonotela(1st Alto), Shumi Ntutu(1st Alto), Thami Madi(2nd Alto), Johannes Monaheng(Rhythm Guitar), Saul Manikela(Banjo Guitar), Jury Mpehlo(1st Alto), Christopher Songxaka(Tenor), Boyci Gwele(Piano), Stanford Tsiu(Guitar), Spokes Mashiyane(1st Alto), Reggie Msomi(Lead Guitar), Ben Mawela(Drums), Napkin(1st trumpet), Mirriam Makeba, Dolly Rathebe, Mara Louw, Thandi Klaaen, Zakes Nkosi(Tenor/Alto), Makhaya Ntshko(Drums), Chopi Timbula(Piano), Gideon Nxumalo(Piano), Early Mabuza, Drums) Allen Kwela(Guitar), Martin Mgijima(Bass) Tim Ndaba, Shep Ntsamai, and Stompie Manana. Kippie Moeketsi and Wison Silgee were the founders of the African Jazz Pioneers and their performances became legendary throughout South Africa
In 1959, the American peianist John Mehegan organized recordings sessions usingmany of the prominent South AfrianJazz musicians and thinkers like Hugh Masekela,dollar Brand(Abdul Ibrahim), Kipiie Moeketsi, Chris McGregor, Sathima Bea Benjamin, Johny Dyani, and Johas Gwangwa. The Cold Castle National Jazz Festival brought out more Musicans like Gideon Nxumalo, Dudu Pukwans, The Jazz Dallers, Claude Shamge, Chris Joseph, Gene Latimore.
The Townships brought forth groups like the The Orlando Seven, Elite Swingsters, N.D. Hotshots, Jazz Dazzlers, Orlando Seven, King Jury and his Band, Spokes Mashiyane and his Big Five, Snqamu Jazz Band. By 1959 and into early 1960s, the African Jazz scene was beginning to change. Sophiatown and its "Shebeens"(Jook joints-like) and dance halls was now only a memory. The 1963 festival produced an LP called Jazz The African Sound, but the Apartheid government oppression soon ended the Jazz scene. The Jazz musical "King Kong" took many musicians away from established group, sometimes forcing them to disband.
But in Orlando East(Soweto), Alexandra Township, Payneville, TwaTwa, Lady Selbourne and Cato Manor, Emkhumbane(Natal) Duncanville and New Brighton and in dozens of other Townships around the country, African jazz was alive and well. The riffing was now tighter, the soloist hotter and the beat was heavier. The Big Bands were still touring and along with specially assembled recording groups, they produced a steady stream of 78 rpm's shellac discs. There was also a saying amongst the musicians that Mbaqanga was what you ate, and Jazz was the dancing music, the drinking music and the Party music.
Abdullah Ibrahim - Kalahari
Thandi Klaasen - "Sophiatown"...
Hugh Masekela live in Cape Town...
McCoy Mrubata Quartet Live at Winnie's 30 5 14 2
Kippie Moeketsi - Track 5....
Moses Taiwa Molelekwa- "Ahe"..
South African Jazz Greats Bheki Khoza...
South African Music Today
From the 1960s, the days of Soul to the 1970s, where we begin to see the coming in a micx bag of sounds. Then comes the twonships sounds of the 1980s. Artists like Dan Twala who adopted the electronic keyboards from the Soul sounds of the Townships we have described above. Then we have Chicco Twala. Brenda Fasie, Mzwakhe Mbuli , Ringo, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Mzwakhe Mbuli.
But the Sounds of Caiphus Semenya, Letta Mulu, Hugh Masekela were never out of the musical systems of the Africans. Harari Kept up the Beat; The Jazz Ministers were still churning the African Jaz sounds; Bra Zakes Nkosi'smusic still lived; The sounds of Mahlathini, Amaswazi Emvelo, Phuzekheisi, George Maluleke, Philip Tabane and the Malombo, Mbube music has always thirved despite the fact that Paul Simon worked with Mambazo, but the Townships have clung to their Mbaqanga with groups like Ama SAP, Umfo, Bhekumi Luthili, DJs like Zulu Boy had hot shows up to 2006 on Saturdays playing for up to six hours of high powered Mbaqana rhythms and millions listening to his shows;
There were groups like the Drive, Sakhile, George Maluleke, Bhudaza, Stimela, Joe Nina, Herman, Soul Brothers, Khakheni, soweto Teachers Choir, and the Ionians with the late Khabi Mgoma, Mirriam Makeba, Bayete, of course Bongo Maffin, Boom Shaka and the msic of Kwaito, and some more Mbaqanga from the Sotho Version of it by Manka le Phallang, Dilika, Majakathatha, Mzikayifani Buthelzi, Rude boy Paul, Vusi Mahlasela, Bakithi Khuamlo, Bergville stories, Juluka, Rhytmic Elements, Image, Malaika and hundreds of Jazz and other types of Music Clubs that are alive and well in South Africa.
So that, it should be noted that South African Africans have an uncanny ability and talent and understanding of playing and listening to every kind of music there is, from classical Music, Classical jazz, R&B, Soul, Funk, Rock 'n Roll, Mbaqanga, Marabi, Kwela, in dingy and sparkly jazz clubs, Shebeens, Taverns,to big hall concerts and to open air festivals, the African music lovers have shown their love and sophisticated understanding of all genre, whether International of local, of African music lovers in South Africa are rich in character and inner strength that allows them to have integrity and have a very seriously mature taste, and they are demanding of quality from their local musicians to those internationally.
There is also a whole genre of local tradional Music from the music of the Kings by the Xhosa People, to Zulu traditional Music, Music of the Tswana, Pedi, Sotho People(called Mohobelo), the Venda women and people drummers and singers; the Swazi and Ndebele traditional and Mbaqanga. This is another genre which needs its own hub to be discussed thoroughly and clearly because it is another less known and discussed part of African South African Music that has not really been explored nor discussed enough in its entirety. When it come to African people and their music, the Beat Goes on!
These are the songs of the People, This is Africa! For those who would be interested, all the musicians and their music above can be heard on some of the Hubs I have already published on various genres of music around the world plays a vast variety of music from all over the world, the Artists above can be listened to and enjoyed on the station above.
Batsumi.. Cultural Rhythms And Vibey Grooves Of Mzatnsi...
Unoya Kae" (Where Were You Going to) ~ - Shanty City Seven
Mike Makhalemele and Winston Mankunku - "Togetherness"...
Nomfusi - kunjalo (It's like that) ft. Ringo English lyrics...
Cama Gwini Performs 'Umbulelo' LIVE at POPArt Theatre...
Thinking of Brenda - Njabulo Ndebele
Brenda Fassie is without doubt one of the dominant icons of contemporary South African popular music. From about twenty years ago, when she broke into the musical scene in the early eighties with "Weekend Special", she has continued to evoke strong reactions. Whether she is adored or disliked, she is always there to react to. It is in reacting to her that we discover we are actually reacting to ourselves. We are compelled to confront in ourselves the implications of the ups and downs of her life: marriage and divorce; drugs; homosexuality; and healing. Stages of her life are reflected in her songs with a candour that approaches pure innocence. We ask: how is it to be innocent in a dangerous world?
The world demonstrates the notion of slowness. There was the blue haze in the horizon, rural smoke rising slowly against the sky until it seemed as if the sky was floating. I remember the distant kra-a-a-k of a white-necked raven gliding somewhere in the sky, and the trees so still as if they had sucked in through their leaves, all the motion there ever was. That is the scene I saw when I finally got out of bed after waking to the sounds of "Weekend Special" on Radio Lesotho somewhere in the house.
The music had reached me while I was hovering between the states of waking and sleeping, suspended between re-emerging consciousness and the continuation of sleep. I had not heard the song before, nor did I know who was singing it, but I will never forget the pounding thrill of it, the rhythms that I felt certain could keep a party going endlessly. And that is exactly how it turned out at many parties in Maseru those years. Much later, Elliot Makhanya was to capture what many felt: "Brenda Fassie is a unique creative energy and an overwhelming talent. ...Fassie has been singing for just over two decades, but every time you listen to her, it seems as if she has just begun" (Sowetan. November 5, 1999). It is of personal significance for me that I remember my first experience with "Weekend Special" so vividly. Over the years, I have accumulated a repertoire of songs that first came to me at precisely that time of the morning, in that same floating state of being. That is how "Jesu, joy of man's desiring" first floated towards me from the dining room of our four-roomed home, where my father played his vinyl of classical music records on a gramaphone, on a Sunday morning as he typed away a school Inspector's report on a Royal typewriter.
Some songs invaded my home from outside, and found their way into my ears, particularly on Saturday mornings. There were neighbours who loved to show off their hi-fi sound systems by turning on the volume so high that I would wonder if they could hear one another from where they were, being so close to their booming sets. Only now I know why they shouted so much when they spoke, especially when they greeted people passing by in the street. It is such neighbours who would be the subject of many disapproving sermons in township churches. "The devil comes in dancing into your house through your loud hi-fi sets," many a preacher warned. " And as you fry in the flames of hell, the hi-fi sounds ringing in your head and driving you to unfathomable madness, you reap the terrible fruits of showing off your worldly possessions. "
But many neighbours loved their sets and their music too much to be intimidated. In that way, 'Rosie my girl' of the Dark City Sisters, floated into my mind, to stay there to this day. So did "Darlie Kea Lemang" by Miriam Makeba and the Skylarks. So did "My Boy Lollipop" by Natalie Cole. So did Jim Reeves of the ‘Distant Drum?also wake me up to his cruel lover who was the ‘judge, the jury all in one.?
Many years later in Duduza, visiting my sister's home, I would wake up, on Sunday mornings, to other sounds. A few houses away, a Zionist Church held its all night service of prayer through singing, dancing, clapping, and the beating of drums. The drums had pounded away until I could not hear them anymore, as my mind succeeded in fusing their rhythms with the general background of life inside and outside, filtered out until unheard, as such, and I could fall asleep. But something happened in the morning: the rhythms shook me awake, when the worshippers finally came out of the house of worship at first light of dawn, to perform the grand finale to the nightlong service. This they did in the street. They come out in single file, and once they are all out in the street, quickly form into a fast spinning, whirling, and frenzied circle of prayer in movement and song. And then they break up for the day, ready for the next week.
The mornings and the particular state of waking have given me many musical epiphanies. They remain as lasting memories, capturing the manner in which vital bonds were established between myself, the songs, and where they were first heard. To remember songs is to remember time and place and circumstance. In the same way, memories of place can trigger memories of song and circumstance. Memories of events can bring a flood of songs associated with them and the places where they were heard. Thus, music can become one of the vital ways by which we connect with the world. How we map the trajectory of our feelings about where we have been, and where we are; about personal and historic events that we live through. Music yields us a complex of intuitions about being there in the world. It connects us to our neighbourhoods, be it through blaring hi-fi sets, or singing and drumming in the streets, or the quiet of the home where we listen to the gramophone and the typewriter (which evokes the world of work, beyond). Music connects us too, to far away places across the seas from where we hear their plaintive voices, evoking familiar joys and pains of bonding and loss, striking intimate chords that link people across unimaginable distances.
So, my conception of the world has grown partly as a result of the intangible worlds of sound, which formed vivid impressions in my mind of the possible social worlds from which those sounds originate. Through my imagination, from my still position in bed, I have travelled extensively: first to other rooms in my home, then out into my neighbourhood, and through the music floating towards me from these sources, on to distant places far beyond. I will not be surprised that many of us have most probably encountered music in a similar manner. Not necessarily lying in bed in the morning and emerging from sleep. Time and place and circumstance will be different, for each of us, but the impact, if we have been receptive to those special sounds coming at us, will have been profoundly similar. Time and place and events converge in sound and rhythm. In this way we have another means by which we accumulate memories that define our journeys through the world.
And so do we become members of musical communities distinguished by rhythms, voices, and instruments. Sometimes these kinds of musical communities will coincide with national communities and become a part of how national communities define their identities. It is this difficult question of identity, within the context of our own unfolding national identity, that I am struggling with as I try to unravel my intuitions about why I have found the phenomenon of Brenda Fassie so particularly intriguing. It turned out not to be a particularly easy task to undertake.
There are few controversial characters in contemporary South Africa, who stand out like Brenda Fassie. Besides her musical talents, she has some highly marketable qualities. For example, there is an unmistakable outrageous brazenness about her that newspapers are bound to love. That they quickly recognized what a musical catch they had in their hands comes through in many headlines. At first, the headlines reflected a genuine discovery of a major musical talent: "There's no stopping Brenda", says `Bona' magazine in April 1984, soon after Brenda's dramatic entrance into the entertainment industry through her hit song "Weekend Special".
But even back then, there were signs of another media prize: Brenda's mouth. "I have been through a lot of difficulties paving my way to success," she says. "Now that I have reached this stage in my career, I am not going to turn back. My ambition is to become a number one musician in this country and....well...make a lot of money" (2 Bona. April, 1984). Here was a rags to riches story that landed on the press's hand like a bird. The profiling of Brenda as a musician shifted dramatically towards the drama of her private life.
There is a telling sequence of pictures in the supplement to "Drum"' magazine of December/January 1991 entitled: ?951 to 1991 Then and Now. A 40 year perspective of township Life as seen through the eyes of Drum.?There are many pictures of musicians and dancers, particularly in the fifties and sixties, who are shown performing on stage. Dancers, in particular, are captured in dramatically frozen motion. In contrast, Brenda Fassie, a dynamic contemporary performer, is shown in her wedding dress, on her wedding day, with Yvonne Chaka Chaka, her senior bridesmaid, mopping the brides' brow on a "steaming hot Durban day" (3 I am grateful to my research assistant Megan Samuelson, for making this observation). Chicco Twala is shown leaning against his Mercedes Benz with his huge double-storey house in the background. At the bottom is a shoulder and head picture of Mbongeni Ngema, accompanied by a comment on how he "is now a wealthy playwright and music producer who counts among his friends Quincy Jones and Oscar-winning actor Denzyl (sic) Washington. "AFFLUENCE AND CONFUSION STRIKE A CHORD IN THE 90’S" goes the summative headline. The music and performance of these artists are downplayed in favour of gossip about their private lives.
Indeed, in 1987, three years after Brenda has broken into the musical scene, she is on the cover of Drum with half of her picture, in which she is seating on the floor, dominated by her exposed right thigh, knee and boots. The other half is her smiling face. Her face radiates a mix of innocence and calculated sexuality. "BRENDA- I CAN'T BUY ME LOVE" goes the cover headline. The story inside has a juicy heading: "SHE'S LOOKING FOR A LIFETIME SPECIAL. Brenda tells all on Chicco, a lesbian fling, and one-night stands." And Brenda, the star of "Weekend Special", rises to the occasion and rattles off about men and love, building on what is to be her characteristic style of self-exposure: "I know that most of them are just lusting after me. They don't love me. They just want to go to bed with me". And then follows her characteristic sudden shift in focus as something strikes her mind: "I can also seduce a man if I want to."
Later on in the same interview, she pronounces: "it was a good experience," referring to what the article calls 'a lesbian fling.?"I was just curious. I wanted to know how they make love to other women." Just an experiment, which, it turns out later, has been a defensive method to maintain self-respect. If the public have a problem with lesbians, Brenda was merely experimenting. She was not one herself. But because a part of her really is, she has to protect herself against her self and maintain her self-esteem to herself: "I am always nice to the lesbians. I don't snub them. I hope I will never become a lesbian." A verbal distancing effect for the public designed to facilitate and maintain an internal coherence. And so, Brenda keeps "telling all" to the thrill of the magazine and many shocked readers whose appetites are whetted for more stories, more of Brenda's musical hits, and more appearances at festivals, where they will endure long hours waiting for her to appear.
"One malicious columnist," complains Brenda, "wrote that I look like a horse. And some people say that I am ugly. I don't want to be beautiful. My ugliness has taken me to the top. I have proved that I have style, and all that glitters is not gold," she says, revealing another talent for the art of reversal. Once she was asked why she hasn't been to the United States where she could build on her fame. She retorted that Michael Jackson did not come to South Africa to be famous. Very early, Brenda firmed up her mouth as one her best assets.
Covering the next major episode in her life, "Drum" magazine is later found standing diligently on Brenda's side in March 1989 when she does indeed, find her 'Lifetime Special' in Nhlanhla Mbambo. "MASS HYSTERIA AS BRENDA SAYS ‘I DO? announces the cover of 'Drum' with a picture of the smiling couple dressed in white. 'Drum' dubs it the "pop wedding of the year". However, in August 1990 "Drum" announces a dramatic end of Brenda's marriage with another cover story. It shows us another picture of the couple. This time they are dressed in black leather clothes. There is no smile on Brenda face. She is looking pained and sad, but also decidedly petulant. Her husband is trying to smile, while the headline goes: "BRENDA AND HUBBY 'OUR MARRIAGE BASED ON JEALOUSY AND INFIDELITY'. It is not long after this announcement that the couple makes up. But marriage bliss is not for them. After a separation announced in November, `The Sowetan' later announces on December 10, "Curtain falls on Brenda's marriage". And so it does.
Since 1984 when she broke into the musical scene with "Weekend Special", Brenda Fassie, Ma Brr, and her music have lived through some of the most significant changes in the history of South Africa. Today, she still 'wows audiences,' as a typical Sowetan headline may put it. In that time, she floated into our personal and public lives as sound and rhythm. As sound, she has come at us in two ways: as music and as speech. In a way, whether she has been on stage or off it, hers has been a continuous performance. That is why, in this connection, it seems inappropriate to separate her public from her private persona. They are one.
It is useful to recall some of the major public events through which we travelled with Brenda Fassie, and during which, for sixteen years, she has been at centre stage. Some of these events are captured so well in a book called Mandela, Tambo, and the African National Congress. We were listening and dancing to "Weekend Special" when a:
"new pattern of protest grew throughout the South African summer of 1984-85. It consisted of stay-at-homes, roving demonstrations challenging the police patrolling the townships, and attacks on the businesses, houses, and persons of African charged with collaborating in the new Community Council system. Local grievances became the vehicle for protest against the apartheid system as a whole, spreading from township to township through a population thoroughly mobilized by student participation in school boycotts and broader involvement in the anti constitution campaigns. At the same time, the existence of national bodies such as the UDF provided new means for coordination or protest, epitomized in the Transvaal stay-at- home of November 5-6, 1984, in which an estimated 800,000 participated" (Sheridan Johns & R. Hunt Davis, Jr. (eds.). Mandela. Tambo and the African Nationa/ Congress. (New York: OUP, 1991), p. 198.)
Beyond that, the struggles progressed through several other phases. We witnessed the state of emergency, necklace killings, economic sanctions, rent and rates boycotts, the calls for "liberation now, education later," increasingly successful ANC guerrilla attacks against the apartheid state, the release of Mandela, the constitutional negotiations, and the historic elections of 1994, tens years after `Weekend Special'. And now, we have entered the phase of democracy, governance and delivery. Brenda is still there, continuing to make an impact.
In that time she hungered for love, made money, got married, divorced, confirmed her bisexuality, wrecked her life through drug addiction during which she experienced one of the painful moments of her life: the death of her lover Poppy, seemingly from a drug overdose. Through a difficult struggle, thanks to her producer Chicco Twala, she recovered and is falling in and out of love once more, while continuing to make new music, which continues to enjoy enormous popularity.
As Namibian interviewer, Immanuel D'Emilio observes: "controversial songstress Fassie has an honours degree from the University of Hard Knocks, but she never let traumatic life events get in her way having a good time. Now that she has made peace with her odious past, she's embarked on a mission to regenerate her reign as the inimitable queen of the South African music industry. Her Highness spoke to me about love, drug addiction, loss and power of fame." (The Namibian, August 14, 1998. 6 Sowetan. February 7, 1997.) Although the tone of D'Emilio's writing is exploitative and disparaging, it shows how the media, in reflecting the ups and downs of Brenda's life, took advantage of her. But it is Brenda's own words than ring loud: "I am a born again musician."
Remarkably, these ups and downs are reflected in many of the lyrics of her music. Her life and her music are inseparable. What could it all mean?
For one artist to remain at the centre stage of South African popular music for sixteen years is a phenomenon that necessarily has to resonate with special meaning for the times. Allister Sparks makes an interesting observation of crowds at political rallies in the eighties:
Here the anonymous individuals of a humiliated community seemed to draw strength from the crowd, gaining from it the larger identity of the occasions and an affirmation of their human worth. Their daily lives might seem meaningless, but here on these occasions the world turned out, with its reporters and its television cameras, to tell them it was not so, that their lives mattered, that humanity cared, that their cause was just; and when they clenched their fists and chanted their defiant slogans, they could feel that they were proclaiming their equality and that their strength of spirit could overwhelm the guns and armoured vehicles waiting outside. (Allister Sparks. The Mind of South Africa: The story of the Rise and Fall of Apartheid. (London: Heinemann, 1990). P. 341.)
Similarly, in the apparent futility of daily life under oppression, Brenda seems to succeed in giving meaning to the daily details of life by affirming them in song. When her audiences recognise those social facts, and sing along, imprinting them anew in their minds, and dancing to the rhythms that carry the picture or message-bearing words, they participate in a vital process of self-authentication and regeneration.
"Zimb' izindaba ..." Begins the song "Kuyoze Kuyovalwa" in the CD "Abantu Bayakhuluma. " Mina Ngihamba no- Kuyoze ku clozwe Izikhiye zilahleke, bese bayavula vele kuyoze kuyo valwa-ke
Sihamba ngo (Allister Sparks. The Mind of South Africa: The story of the Rise and Fall of Apartheid. (London: Heinemann, 1990). P. 341.
Thina siyalala la
Thina siyahlala la
We're not leaving this party. We'll be here until daybreak. They may close and lose the keys, but will surely open again until daybreak. This mock defiance of hosts is partly a result of known characters who never take hints, and over stay their welcome. But is also an expression of pure pleasure: just how fun it is at the party. However, hosts must be warned, the partygoers may just stay until daybreak. The popular format of 6pm to 6am festivals (dusk to dawn) replays this potentially anarchic social game at an immensely grand scale.
"Lyrically, Fassi's (sic) songs are a mish-mash of the latest township lingo, sometimes barely comprehensible even to locals, but they stick in the minds of her listeners", (Kim Burton (ed.). WorldMusic (The Rough Guide). (London: The Rough Guides, 1994) says a report on Brenda Fassie "World Music: The Rough Guide". "Mish-mash" suggests confusion. Not necessarily. What Brenda does, and this seems a part an ingrained pattern of behaviour, as we shall see later, is bring together unusual, apparent unconnected juxtapositions that make sense only in context. For example, the bumper sticker on her car reads: HULLO BU-BYE KOKO COME IN (Vrye Weekblad. Desember/Januarie 1993)
This may look like incomprehensible "mish-mash" to the socially uninitiated. But it is a free spirit expression of the social energy in the endless comings and goings in the township, the meetings and the partings, and the opening and the closing of doors. It is a dramatic validation of common experience.
Perhaps the most controversial act of validation is Brenda's outspokenness on the taboo subject of sex. The problem, for society, comes precisely at the point where, for Brenda Fassie, the wall between the private and the' public totally collapses. What could be more outrageous in public, coming from a popular star than: "Some men cry... (8 Abantu Bayakhuluma. CDBREN (WL) 94 CCP 1994.)
Because I sing... I sing when I make love... I sing for them." This obliteration of the divide between the private and the public is at the bottom of her verbal ungovernability. Indeed, if the state is to be rendered ungovernable, and if that ungovernability IS a factor of not only of the intention to be free, but also that the act of rendering the state ungovernable is itself an act of freedom, then Brenda's voice enters the public arena as ungovernable, the ultimate expression of personal freedom. While she may shock, she is at the same time admired, not for her courage (for this is not courage at play), but for being representative of the value of expressiveness. She made real in the personal dimension, the political quest for an abstract notion of freedom. She brought the experience of freedom intimately close.
Brenda "Mabbrr" Fassie...
Thinking of Brenda - Njabulo Ndebele - PART 2 (2 of 2)
By Njabulo Ndebele 2000
Indeed, long before the issue of sexual preference became a burning constitutional issue, Brenda had long widened the door open. But there is yet another way that Brenda touched a significant chord in a national context. Here we are looking at the impact of the politics of culture in creating a national identity. I had occasion to reflect just under a year ago, on binding factors, which could explain why it would be difficult for the South African state to disintegrate in conflict. I observed that "an increasingly familiar commercial and industrial landscape has progressively drawn the population into a unifying pattern of economic activities. A replicated landscape of major commercial chains throughout the country has, over the decades, become a feature of how the land is imagined. Spatial familiarity of this sort renders the land familiar, less strange and more accommodating wherever you may be in the country. This kind of familiarity may have a binding effect, which cuts across the particularising tendencies of geographic and ethnic location. Linking the country is a complex network of a communications system, which promised accessibility of every part of the country to every citizen. This sense of universal accessibility was sensed as an achievement even before CODESA was underway".
It is remarkable how extensively Brenda toured the country singing. Particularly noteworthy are the festivals held in the homelands. Between September 1991 when she performed at the Mphephu Resort, in Venda, and December 1994 when she performed at (11 Ibid) the Phuthaditjaba Stadium, in Qwaqwa, Brenda Fassie visited all the homelands together 19 times. In a hectic schedule, she could move from homeland to homeland in one weekend. In this way, her music, given the political context of difficult struggle, helped to consolidate a view of culture as social affirmation. Secondly, it contributed to the consolidation of a sense of South African musical space, familiar to millions across the land. Some symbols changed in the process. Stadiums associated with bogus independence became sites for a social assertiveness heavily suggested in Brenda’s style.
So who is Brenda Fassie? In Sesotho, I would say: "Ke sebopuoa. (God's own, being). Charl Blignaut, of the famous interview in the "Vrye Weekblad" with the heading `in bed with Brenda', ponders on the conduct of his subject during the interview. As we nave noticed, she strays from answering questions while she digresses on minor intrusions. "Over the years", Blignaut writes,
I have come to the conclusion that there is no way to write a Brenda interview without its being personal. That's because there really is no such thing as a Brenda "interview". Every self-respecting hack who's been around the block has done the "Waiting for Brenda" or "Trying to keep up with Brenda" piece. You don't "interview" Brenda, you experience her. You could be the recipient of her venom or of her devoted attention. Most likely it'll be both - with switches happening when you least expect them. Then again, maybe it's just me. As I said, it's personal. One minute she's outside crying on the balcony because you've really upset her and hurt her career, the next she's feeding you her lunch. And that's probably because, like any serious pop star anywhere in the world, Brenda Fassie has a love-hate relationship with the media. I've interviewed other famously difficult people like Naomi Campbell and Boy George and have remained reasonable calm. But, without fail, each time I prepare to interview Brenda, I'm deeply on edge for days. Because no mater what you're thinking, you seldom know what she'll do next; you're never quite ready for her. That point is that Brenda Fassie, whether she's topping the charts or lying in the gutter, is every inch a star. She makes her own rules."
(12 Mail & Guardian. August 8, 1997.)
There are two observations I would like to make about Blignaut's experience. The first is how he may not have fully realized the extent to which Brenda subjected him to the rules of her own life. When he says that interviewing Brenda is a "personal thing" a feeling which he expresses through a public medium, he lives for a moment, in Brenda's world in which the personal and the public not only coexist, but seem to merge.
Secondly, I doubt that Brenda really has a special "love-hate relationship with the media. " While she would never be totally indifferent to the media, her swings of mood are not necessarily a calculated desire to be outrageous, to wound and then to make amends in order to keep the lines of communication open. They are part of the fabric of her life. One moment she berates Yvonne Chaka Chaka for living in the suburbs, the next moment she declares her a true friend. When Brenda gets angry, it's because anger is natural. When she becomes compassionate, it is because compassion is natural. But whatever the case might be, you never sense hatred. But certainly affection, even love, are never absent. You find them framing, however tenuously, even in the most outrageous statement. Being kind of person she is, essentially trusting, Brenda is likely to experience many moments of vulnerability, and be wont to feel sharply the pain of disappointment (Akusese mnandi, yo/ Monday Buti yo / Ungishaya ngaphakathi), which she then come to terms with, and transcends through song. It is a quality of innocence that lies at the core of her life. It makes no sense to be angry at the storm, or, in contrast, to declare love for the sun. They are both facts of life indifferent to how you may feel about them, even though it may be comforting to express attitudes towards them.
American journalist Donald G.M. McNeil Jnr, confirms this impression when he reflects on the inappropriateness of comparisons between Brenda and Madonna. "In interviews," he writes, the comparison to Madonna seems ridiculous. Madonna is a study in calculation; Fassie is all impulse. She cannot sit still, leaps to answer phones that are not hers, peremptorily sends people out for things like artificial fingernails and ice cream bars. She brags that she'll tell anybody who her sexual partner was the previous night."13
On the other hand, Mark Gevisser concludes: "She is textbook tabloid commodity: her fix, and her downfall, has been notoriety, not cocaine." 14 Not quite, I think. Her fix, not really a fix because it is who she primarily is, is her innocence, which may have courted notoriety as a method of expression. She bumped into notoriety along the way. If Brenda had discovered something exciting about being a nun, something about which, as a musician, she could say some outrageous things, and swing her pelvis on the stage in the process, with the kind of zeal some born-again religious people can demonstrate, she would have played around with saintliness as a method of expression. At bottom is the desire to be. To be free, although unbridled freedom, like the political strategy or ungovernability , can bum the one that wields it.
(13 Z.B Molete. A Common Hunger to Sing: A Tribute to South Africa's Women of Song. (Cape Town: Kwela Books, 1997).
(14 Mail& Guardian. December 1,1995.)
If this has been a personal engagement with Brenda, I have also now made the personal, public. I think the TRC was also about making the private, public. I think only if we attempt this pouring out of personal feeling and thinking into the public domain, will a new public become possible. We cannot tell what kind of public it will be, but we do need to release more and more personal data into our public home to bring about a more real human environment: more real because it is more honest, more trusting, and more expressive. And so, the journey that began in my bed, on a languid Spring morning of 1984 in the Roma Valley in Lesotho, is far from over. But sixteen years later, I have landed in a free country with Brenda. She, her hundreds of thousands of fans, and I, are all still figuring out, so to speak, how things will turn out. But we have our music, and hope that it can keep opening up and widening the horizons of our imaginations endlessly.
Malombo - Mashaba
Philip Tabane and Malombo : "Hi Congo"...
Malombo Short Story
I was sent this piece by an FB Friend, and I would like to post it on my Hub:
Eugene Skeef Misha Maltsev, this is not the original stuff. Julian Bahula on drums (in the cover photo) came into exile and settled in London and developed the Malombo sound further. Both he and the guitarist Lucky Ranku have lived here for a long time; but Abbey Cindi, founder of the band, remained in South Africa, where he still lives. 31 mins · Like · 2 Menzi Maseko What is the difference between this Malombo sound system and the one by Dr Phillip Tabane ? 28 mins · Like · 1 Eugene Skeef Great question, my brother Menzi Maseko! Philip Tabane and Abbey Cindi were the original Malombo. It is a long story that Julian Bahula could tell you in detail for your cultural history archives; but suffice oit to say that Julian was brought in on Malombo drums. The original sound grew from this combination of musicians; but soon enough creative tensions developed between Philip and Abbey, which led Abbey to leave with Julian and cultivate their take on the Malombo sound with the guitarist Lucky Ranku. So, in a nutshell, there then existed two groups based on the Malombo sound - the original Malombo Jazz Men and the new Abbey Cindi-founded Malombo Jazz Makers. As I'm sure you know, Julian Bahula and Lucky Ranku have lived in London for many years, while Abbey Cindi is still at home. You might be interested also to know that after the dissolution of Cindi's Malombo, he started another roots cultural group that he called Afrika - a very powerful band that featured the under-realised Mamelodi guitar genius Lawrence Moloise and the brilliant and spiritually susceptible percussionist Pat Sefolosha. After a performance in Durban (Abbey was very close to me and often hung out at my home) Afrika disbanded. This led to the formation - under my directorship and the late Ben Langa's associate directorship - of Malopoets, the poetry and music outfit that inspired a generation of culturally attuned artists. Malopoets was a coming together of Mamelodi (Pat Sefolosha, Pat Patrick Mokoka and Sam Tshabalala) and KwaMashu (Duze Mahlobo and Madoda Bruce Sosibo). Love and light.
Soul Brothers: Mama Ka Sibongile (Live in Concert)
South Africa - Soul Brothers - Live I
Umlazi Maskandi: Songs In Memory Of Bhekumuzi
Bhekumuzi Luthuli - Udumo Lwakhe
South Africa - Mahlathini & Mahotella Queens - "Kazet" ...
**"awuthule Kancane" - Mahlathini and Mahotella Queens**
Philip Tabane & Malombo - Hi Congo
Phillip Tabane and Malombo Live at The Market Theatre
Phillip Tabane and Malombo Live at the market theatre2
© 2010 ixwa