africa

Jonah Moyo and Devera Ngwena – Fundisa Umlomo Wakho

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Jonah Moyo and Devera Ngwena –this last meaning ‘follow the crocodile’ in the Xitsonga language native to southeast Africa– are a Zimbabwean rhumba act that blends native mbira rhythms with a modern, Chimurenga-style social sensibility.

This track from 1987 has catchy, birdsong guitars taking the mbira (thumb piano) part and a sort of droned vocal harmony that at once invigorates the lower-half of the body while soothing the upper half.

D.O. 7 Shirati Luo Voice Jazz Band – Christopher Odira

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Featuring the deft, trilling guitars of Daniel Owino Misiani –known in Kenya & Tanzania as the ‘father of history’ and and ‘grandfather of benga‘– this track is a certain mood-lifter. Not surprisingly, this sounds as much like Mbaraka Mwinshehe: another Tanzanian guitar giant in the muziki wa dansi tradition.

The Luo People of West Kenya –of which Odira is a constituent– are the same people from whom US President Barack Obama’s father descended.

African Brothers International Band – Me Nnye Osansani

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Something lovely just came down the wire! A first appearance for the African Brothers International Band on these pages, which seems a shameful omission. Coalescing in 1963 around Nana Kwame Ampadu, in all its incarnations the African Brothers Band was known for its politically instructive lyrics, catchy guitar rhythms and performing only original music.

The rhythm track is deft –built on native percussion and intertwining guitars– and will summon a shake to all but the most moribund of hips.

Me Nnye Osansani translates as ‘I’m not a drifter/bum.”

Ayub Ogada – 10%

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Oh, how I love this song. Kenyan-born actor & musician Ayub Ogada coaxes a cheerful rhythm from his Luo nyatiti (the traditional eight-string lyre of the Luo people of western Kenya), counter-pointed with a playfully-made flute melody. Sets a quick pace for walking, toes tapping, or a hip shaking: whatever’s free.

Tabu Ley Rochereau & African Fiesta – Moto Abungaka

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The voice of lightness! Such a chill groove!

Dr Nico Kasanda & Orchestra l’African Fiesta Sukisa – Munka

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A neat, unexpected appearance of slack-key guitars in an African tune, this from Congolese bandleader Dr. Nico Kasanda and Orchestra l’African Fiesta Sukisa.

Mekongo – Me Bowa Ya

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Such tight horns! Cameroon’s Mekongo –about which next to nothing is known– with the first track from one of the two Mango Records ‘Sound d’Afrique’ Afropop compilations.