It is nigh impossible to sum the tapestry of sounds from southern Africa, such is its variety and richness. From the Zulu a cappella harmonies of South Africa to the breakneck salegy of Madagascar, from Zimbabwe’s pulsating chimurenga to the trance-like manchancha performed in Zambia the region has given birth to as many musical genres as it has to languages and traditions (there are 72 distinctive ethno-linguistic communities in Zambia’s 11 million strong population alone).
There is one common trait binding them together, however: here, as elsewhere in Africa, music continues to play a deep social and political role far beyond the Western concept of ‘entertainment’.
The saying of Congolese pianist Ray Lema is all the more relevant in a region that has been prone to terrible violence in the last decade:
Music is a social game where every member of a tribe has a place of his own, that’s the purpose of the game, to find one’s place in society.
The above blurb comes from the liner notes of the 50 Years of African Music box set which I wish I could share with you but alas technology fails.
So I guess the only option is to listen.
It’s funny, every region of Africa does seem to have a certain ‘feel’ and sound. Probably the East is the most diverse to my ear. But from beginning to end you wouldn’t mistake this music as coming from any place except southern Africa. A few of the selections are a bit weary (Pata Pata…yet again?!) but there is a lot of lesser known diamonds here as well.
Track Listing (disc one):
01 Welele (South Africa) [Letta Mbulu]
02 Pata Pata (South Africa) [Mariam Makeba]
03 Liberation Danse (South Africa) [Abdullah Ibrahim]
04 Mulunga Adzatembenuza (Malawi) [Dr Daniel Kachamba]
05 Abale Wanga (Malawi) [Jivacort Kathumba]
06 Hatisi Tose (Zimbabwe) [Bhundu Boys]
07 Makorokoto (Zimbabwe) [The Four Brothers]
08 Ziwere (Zimbabwe) [Oliver Mtukudzi]
Track Listing (disc two):
01 Kazet (South Africa) [Mahlathini and Mahotella Queens]
02 Slave (South Africa) [Lucky Dube]
03 Abantu (South Africa) [Soul Brothers]
04 Mai (Zimbabwe) [Chiwoniso]
05 Jive Soweto (South Africa) [Sipho Mabuse]
06 Imfa Ya Amuna Wanga (Malawi) [Saleta Phiri and AB Sounds]
07 Tudo Pa Po (Madagascar) [Suzanna Lubrano]
08 Paite Rima (Zimbabwe) [Stella Chiweche]
Track listing (disc three):
01 Indosiko Anao (Madagascar) [Jaojoby]
02 O Mang (Botswana) [Hi Hop Pantsula]
03 Safora (Madagascar) [Rajery]
04 Shumba (Zimbabwe )[Thomas Mapfumo]
05 Eka Lahy (Madagascar) [Regis Gizavo]
06 Mulungelo (South Africa) [Hugh Masakela]
07 Bread And Roses ( Zimbabwe) [Fatso]
08 Limpopo (South Africa) [Tumi and the Volume]
09 The Warm Heart Of Africa (Malawi) [The Very Best]