Tag Archives: South Africa

Miriam Makeba and The Skylarks – Ndidiwe Zintaba

Various Artists - The Rough Guide to the Music of South Africa

Various Artists – The Rough Guide to the Music of South Africa

It’s finals weekend. Holland play Spain for the honour of being champions of the 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa. We’ll be there – there being in the comfort of our own home, in front of the tv. My prediction for this is a win for Spain, and though I’m a neutral I’d quite like to see Holland win – despite the problems this will cause me posting next week!

Tonight (Saturday) it is the third place play off between Germany & Uruguay. Northampton’s answer to Paul the psychic octopus has this down as a win for Germany. We’d like to watch this game too but culture must come first; we’re off to On Common Ground a show in which Chris Wood and Hugh Lupton use music and words to tell the tale of Northamptonshire poet, John Clare.

Talking about finals – today is my final post of South African music for this series and I have chosen another track from the Rough Guide to the Music of South Africa. To give a little variety to the selections, I’ve decided to choose a female vocalist so here is Miriam Makeba and The Skylarks singing Ndidiwe Zintaba

Miriam Makeba and The Skylarks – Ndidiwe Zintaba

Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Shosholoza

Various Artists – Songlines: Top of the World 39

Various Artists – Songlines: Top of the World 39

You can’t really have a sequence of South African music without a track from Ladysmith Black Mambazo, can you? I think not and so this week I’m posting Shosholoza, one of south Africa’s most recorded songs. Joe Mogotsi of the Manhattan Brothers claimed that his group was the very first to record the song. Other artists to have recorded Shosholoza include Peter Gabriel, PJ Powers, Black Umfolosi, the Soweto Gospel Choir and the Drakensberg Boys Choir.

Shosholoza was included in Sing Africa! – a education project by Mbawula (a group of African and Western jazz musicians specialising in South African music), the London Boroughs of Bexley, Greenwich, Lewisham, and Southwark, Trinity College of Music, and Blackheath Concert Halls. On their website, there is an excellent page about the song which explains that:

“The song is an old miner’s song, originally sung by groups of men from the Ndebele tribe who travelled by steam train from their homes in Zimbabwe to work in South Africa’s diamond and gold mines. The Ndebele people live in the northern regions of South Africa and across the northern border into Zimbabwe. The Ndebele language is closely related to Zulu. As well as urging workers to “go forward” the ‘sho’ sounds in the word Shosholoza are onomatopoeic, reminiscent of the sound of the train described in the song. Nobody knows who wrote the song, or exactly when it was written, but we do know that South Africa’s mining industry and the development of steam railways in the mining areas both began in the late 1800s.”

This Ladysmith Black Mambazo version of Shosholoza is taken from the cover album of Songlines magazine issue 39. It was included in the picks of the Alexander McCall Smith and was taken from the album Long Road to Freedom where LBM are joined by artists such as Taj Mahal, Emmylou Harris and Melissa Etheridge! On the original album, the track is listed as being by Ladysmith Black Mambazo & Lucky Dube with Bhekumuzi Luthuli, Hugh Masekela, Vusi Mahlasela, Nokukhanya, Phuzekhemisi and Thandiswa Mazwai.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Shosholoza

Lucky Dube – Crying Games

Various Artists - The Rough Guide to the Music of South Africa

Various Artists – The Rough Guide to the Music of South Africa

I arrived back from a great week in Dorset just in time to watch a dismal England World Cup performance. They lost 4-1 against Germany and thus booking their flights home instead of a place in the quarter finals. So now I’m off to drown my sorrows with a glass or two of South African chenin blanc!

But before I fill my glass, I’ve just time to post today’s track – Crying Games by Africa’s leading of reggae musician, the late Lucky Dube. There will be a lot of England fans crying tonight after a very disappointing performance in the tournament.

Lucky Dube started his career playing Zulu pop music known as mbaqanga. He became influenced by the socio-political messages of the reggae stars he heard and felt that such messages were relevant in institutionally racist South Africa. He used to play a few reggae numbers at his live gigs and then began to record them. His second reggae album Think About The Children achieved platinum sales status and established Dube as the most popular reggae artist in South Africa and a success throughout Africa and beyond. In total, he recorded 22 albums in Zulu, English and Afrikaans in a 25-year period.

On October 18, 2007, Lucky Dube was killed in Johannesburg shortly after dropping two of his seven children off at their uncle’s house. The South African Police claimed that he was shot dead by car-jackers. Three men were tried for his murder, were found guilty on March 31, 2009 and sentenced to life in prison.

Lucky Dube – Crying Games

Solomon Linda’s Original Evening Birds – Mbube

Various Artists - The Rough Guide to the Music of South Africa

Various Artists – The Rough Guide to the Music of South Africa

This week has conspired against me and instead of writing one post and preparing another to be super organised before my holiday, I’m scribbling this post and don’t have much hope for a great literary effort for next week’s one. This week at least the music is going to have to do the talking.

I’m posting Mbube by Solomon Linda’s Original Evening Birds. Play it and you will instantly recognise it as Wimoweh, popularised in the USA by the Weavers and The Kingston Trio and in the UK by The Karl Denver Trio. It was more recently featured in the Walt Disney film The Lion King.

The story of the song and the struggle to ensure that Solomon Linda, the writer of the original song, was credited and all royalties due were paid to his heirs makes fascinating reading.

Solomon Linda’s Original Evening Birds – Mbube

The African Jazz Pioneers – Ten Ten Special

The African Jazz Pioneers – The African Jazz Pioneers

The African Jazz Pioneers – The African Jazz Pioneers

I’m tempted to change the plan to post a series of South African tracks. After the English goalkeeper’s calamitous fumble in the England v. USA game, I feel I should be posting It’s Not Easy Being Green by Van Morrison! But no, I’ll not be diverted from my original intention. South African music it is. Today, I give you The African Jazz Pioneers.

The music of the African Jazz Pioneers had it’s origins in the 1950s. Jazz music with a distinctly South African accent was being played all round South Africa by the likes of Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim), Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Dudu Pukwana and many other lesser known players.

The music faded in popularity in the sixties but in 1981 many of the old Jazzers got together to recreate the joyful music of the 50s and The African Jazz Pioneers were born. They played locally for nearly a decade before recording their first album. Since then, with changing personnel, they have recorded several albums, have toured the world and shared the stage with artists like Youssou N’Dour, Quincy Jones, Manhattan Transfer, Neville Brothers, Chick Corea, Gilberto Gil, Salif Keita, Nina Simone, Rita and Ziggy Marley, as well as most of South Africa’s home grown stars.

The track I’ve posted is from their album just called The African Jazz Pioneers. The track Ten Ten Special was “composed way back in the 50s when black people were subject to a 10 pm curfew. At 10 pm all blacks had to be off the streets otherwise they would be arrested. The last train from Town to Soweto (Pimville) was known as the 10/10 Special. Clearly not a train to miss”.

The African Jazz Pioneers – Ten Ten Special

Poppie Nongena Cast – Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika

Various Artists - Voices

Various Artists – Voices

Your 2010 FIFA World Cup starts here! The plan is, for the next 6 weeks, to celebrate South Africa’s hosting of the World Cup, I shall be posting South African music. Then, after the final, I shall post a track from the winning country.

Don’t worry, it’s all organised. I’ve a fair amount of South African music in my collection and then all I have to do at the end of the tournament is choose the most appropriate English track to post to commemorate our great victory!

I shall start this long journey with Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, the song that was considered to be the unofficial national anthem of South Africa during the apartheid regime. This song, God Bless Africa in Xhosa, was originally composed as a hymn by a Methodist mission school in Johannesburg teacher, Enoch Sontonga in 1897. The words of the first stanza were originally written in Xhosa as a hymn and in 1927 seven additional Xhosa stanzas were added by the poet Samuel Mqhayi.

In 1994 after the fall of apartheid, Nelson Mandela declared that both “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” and the previous national anthem, Die Stem van Suid-Afrika (The Voice of South Africa) would be joint national anthems. In 1996, a shortened, combined version of the two anthems was released as the new South African National Anthem under the constitution of South Africa.

I am posting Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika as sung by the cast of the play Poppie Nongena from the Hannibal Records sampler Voices. The play features traditional South African music throughout and ends with Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika being sung in the final scene.

Poppie Nongena started life as an Afrikaans novel Die Swerfjare van Poppie Nongena (The Long Journey of Poppie Nongena) written by Elsa Joubert. The novel and resulting play won awards around the world and tells the story of one woman’s struggle against apartheid.

Poppie Nongena Cast – Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika

Abdullah Ibrahim – Mannenberg Is Where It’s Happening

Abdullah Ibrahim - Voice of Africa

Abdullah Ibrahim – Voice of Africa

I wanted to start with The Waterboys “Song from the End of the World” as the blog title Furious Music comes from the lyrics of this song. However, this is no longer in my collection (an Amazon delivery is expected soon!). Plan B was to start with “All Tomorrow’s Parties”, a Velvet Underground song cover by the Oysterband and June Tabor from their album “Freedom and Rain”. Guess what! Despite owning two copies of this cd at one stage, I can’t lay my hands on either!

Then I heard today, on the BBC News, that Helen Suzman, the South African anti-apartheid activist and politician, had died aged 91. Decision made; what better way to honour one great South African than to post a track by another – Abdullah Ibrahim. “Mannenberg Is Where It’s Happening” comes from a 1976/77 album “Voice of Africa” originally released under his then name, Dollar Brand. Despite having never visited South Africa, when I play this cd I can conjure up a picture of the country in my mind’s eye.

So; day 1, post 1 – a short post and a long track. Probably the ideal mix!

Abdullah Ibrahim – Mannenberg Is Where It’s Happening