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African Songs Of Protest

Songs, recorded by Dr. Hugh Tracey 1950-63, showing the historical origins of protest: the arrival of Europeans working in the mines, Trades Unions, continual need for passes, lack of money, film shows, wars and bombings. The women too have their say, not only about the men, but also in their final song: "Just what has gone wrong?". Instruments include: bottle, drums, friction-stick, guitar, harmonica, harp, lyre, melodeon, string-bow, thumb-piano (mbira), zither, and saxophone. There are also all kinds of vocal effects: roaring, ululation, yelling, hissing, talking, hand-clapping and stamping.

1. IUWALE-O-IUWALE (Start, O begin the song) Mbasela Kunda & William Munyanda with guitar (sung in Lala), Broken Hill Mine, Serendje Dist, Zambia 1957. "What are we doing? Their tents are over there beyond the Chiwondo river". It dates from about 1900 - 2.44

2. UMGAQ'UPHUM'ENTABENI (The road comes from the mountain) Fighting Song by Baca men, Zwekitsha, Kingwilliamstown Dist, Cape Prov., 1957. "(The white men) have surrounded us. No, we've surrounded them". This dates from an episode in the early wars of the 1800's when Europeans were trying to settle - 4.20

3. ZANZE NA TENGANI AFUNA MAPASS (Everything at Tengani needs a pass) George Zongoloti & young girls with "Nthikwi" foot drum (Sena/ Mang'anja), Mpatsa, Pt. Herald Dist., Malawi, 1958. "If you go to to Southern Rhodesia I have to go to Chief Tingami for a pass, to fish I need another pass, to build a canoe another. Well, I'm going back to Portugese territory over the border, to do just what I like" - 3.18

4. PUMA ENDLINI YAM (Get out of my house) Irene Buyisma Ndumo (Xhosa) with town dance band (leader: Jury Mpelho) (Xhosa),Grahamstown, Cape Prov., S.A, 1957. The girls sing: "Get out of my house, for you haven't paid your tax and you haven't got a pass", but the boys refuse - 2.49

5. NAHATANGENA (When I entered) Eilas Silaule with 7 Shangaan men (Ronga), Manica, near Lorenzo Marques, Mozambique, 1958. Kwaya song complaining about work in the mines and on the farms: "My number was taken for doing something wrong. The coco-pan was too heavy to push". followed by a long and detailed description - 3.16

6. NDIZA FERA CHUMA (I never have enough money) Sitera Mbewe & Frank Mukweza with 2 guitars (Njanja/ Chewa),1957. These two Chewa men came from Nyasaland to Rhodesia to work on the Kariba dam project on the Zambezi river - 2.59

7. NDIZA NKUMBULA NA KATILUNGU BALISHA-MYONDO (N & K sound the calling drum) Group of 11 Aushi men, Roan Antelope Mine, Lake Bangwelu Dist., Zambia, 1957. Mkumbula was the leader of the African National Congress who was in dispute with Katilungu, leader of the African Trades Union - 2.56

8. BENONI Olive Alexander with "The Blue Notes" Dance Band (Leader: Russell Planga) (Xhosa), Grahamstown, 1957. She complains: "My mother, father and brother show me no respect, so I'll go to the Sotho and Zulu to live better" - 2.51

9. IZONO EM HLABENI (Our Sins will be ended when we leave earth) Joke Diamini & "The Homeless B Band" (Zulu), Havelock Mine, Swaziland, S.A., 1958. Possibly learned from a 78 rpm record - 2.52

10. NGWINDINGWINDI ISHUMBA INORUMA (England is the lion that bites) Chief Takawarasha with Karanga men with 2 "Esteri Shumba" drums (Karanga/ Mhari), Chibi Dist., 1958. The appearance of the Pioneer Column to establish Fort Victoria and "Fort" Salisbury in 1890 gave rise to this song - 1.28

11. ATSHAKONGWE WAMWE MUND KUWALA KWAWO (The women of this country all wear the same sort of dress) 5 Nyasa citrus workers with double-headed drum, melodeon & hoe-blade struck on bottle (Njanja/ Chewa), Nelspruit, E.Transvaal, 1957 - 2.45

12. BUSUMBU Isaka Kitutu with 7-string Litunga (Nilotic) lyre with shaken leg-bells (Gishu), Mbale Dist., Uganda, 1950. "What is this phosphate for, at mines employing so many Europeans, Indians and Africans? Perhaps one day we will know?" - 2.35

13. ANAWELA KOKAKOLA Muntano Gomez o Feliciano with guitar (Tonga/ Hlanganu), Chibuto Dist,, Sul de Savo, Mozambique, 1955. "I like Coca-cola, but my brother's too fond of beer", but the girl complains that she doesn't even get any of this wonder-drink - 2.48

14. ANARE MANGEDE UDU-WE Eungane with Mbutu group & 3 Lisanzo "likembe" (Mbira with 4 intervals in the octave) (Mombutu),Watsa Dist., Stanleyville Prov., E.Congo, 1952. "If one asks for something, the white man will not give it to you" meaning "You must not ask, but wait until it's offered" - 2.54

15. I COULD DONE THE FILM IN THE MOON Nelson Siboza with guitar & The Montanas brothers (Zulu/ English), Mataffin, Nelspruit, N.Transvaal, 1958. The citrus estate provided free film shows which resulted in these ambitious sentiments in English - 2.53

16. SITIMA SENDA NAMOTO (The train goes with fire) Josiasi Yemba Mate with 14-note "Kathandi" Mbira (Mbunda), Luanika, Mongu, Barotseland, Zambia, 1950. Composed by the singer after walking to Livingstone for his first train journey for a job in Bulawayo. This song won him a prize - 2.48

17. CHEMIROCHA (Jimmy Rodgers) Charondet Arap Ng'asura with 6- string "Chepkongo" bowl-lyre & Kipsigis men, Sotik, Kericho, Kipsigis Dist., Kenya, 1950. "Why is Jimmy Rosdgers at Kericho ? And visiing a friend at Ituna ?" - 2.52

18. BU Muilama Namale & Ganda group with 2 drums, Ssaza Chief Kago, Kasangati, Kampala, Uganda, 1952. The people called "Bu" caused a disturbance in 1949, but they should not have been arrested as they had no weapons and neither did they do any damage - 3.00

19. JEAN NDJELA KU PARQUET (J N before the Court) Ombiza Charles with guitar, bottle & friction-stick (Swahili/ Ngwana), Oroclos, Stanleyville, Congo, 1952. Jean Ndjela, a personal friend of Ombiza's, was a thief on a grand scale. When arrested for stealing goods to the value of 2-3 million francs (about o20,000), he implicated the people who had received the stolen goods, and when he appeared in Court he was followed, not only by his accomplices, but also by the porters bearing the stolen merchandise on their heads. The song ends: "Ndjela, you cannot take all these goods to your grave with you" - 3.00

20. ABASUNGU BALISA-WE TATA Philemon Kalela with group of Bemba men, Fort Roseberry Dist., Zambia, 1952. "The white people have come, father. They are flying in the air. They have made the smelter. They have made the shaft. They have brought the money. They brought clothing. They have come here for good. They will never turn back from our country. They have settlede in our (Lamba) country. These settlers of the Copper Belt - 2.45

21. EKUMA (A piece of iron) Temusewo Mukasa with 8-string harp, Kasangati, Kampala, Uganda, 1952. Song about the first mechanical roundabout to be brought to Uganda, on which the local chief's ladies were persuaded to ride, but didn't care for it all - 2.55

22. DALE WANDIZONDA Manyanda Nyirenda with young Tonga boys, men & women, Chinteche Dist., Malawi, 1950. "My darling doesn't leave me any more. Why is this ? I put on white clothes but it doesn't help - 2.25

23. AMASEYIBOKWE ANTHENGWA NGEMALI (For a certain type of socks you must pay dearly) Gaeleka boys & girls with harmonica perform "Mtshotsho" dance-song (Xhosa/ Gaeleka), Old Idutywa, Transkei, E.Cape, S.A., 1957. The Gaeleka find a mouth-organ suits their repetitive type of dance-song - 2.25

24. KANTHU PA INGALANDI (In England) Beti Kamanga with 7- string "Bangwe" raft zither (Tonga), Chinteche Dist, Malawi, 1950. The singer recalls the 1939-45 War when many thousands of Italian prisoners were taken. Beti was born in 1902. Blind from the age of 5, he made his own zither of 8 papyrus stalks tied together in a raft, with a gourd resonator - 2.45

25. NI SA IKELA KU MWANALUSHI The Sons of Barotseland Patriotic Society Choir (Lozi), Zambia, 1952. In the villages they sleep on the ground, but this man sings: "I want to go to hospital and lie on a proper bed (mbeda)", but when he falls ill, his people try to dissuade him from going - 2.32

26. BURAI Teituk Arap Sumiyot with Kipsigis men with 5-string "Kibungandet" lyre (Swahili/ Kipsigis), Sotik, Kenya, 1950. Composed by Teituk when he was an "askari" in the King's African Rifles, urging everyone to cheer up. "As soon as the war is over, they will be going home" - 2.45

27. BALIHAYA HUU, WELELO YABELO, WELELO YABELA TWISHINYE MBINA Mazigwa Kaswende with Sukuma men & women (Nyamwezi/ Sukuma), Shinyanga, Tanzania, 1950. "The World is at peace once more, let us dance". This was composed following the 1939-45 War, called "The Bombing of the English and Americans" - 2.41

These recordings were made by Dr.Hugh Tracey in the early fifties for The International Library of African Music and are reproduced here with his permission and that of the Library. First published on Folktrax cassettes 1976.


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