The father of a nation. The holder of the flame of hope and democracy. One of the truely great leaders of the free world.
De houder van die Vlam van De Hoop en die Demokrasie. Een van die groot regtig leiders van die vrye wêreld.
Let freedom reign.
* From time to time, in every nation in the world, a figure emerges from the masses -pulled up by his own bootstraps- and catches the imagination and affection of the people. Mostly they are tough guys and flouters of authority, but often they have courage and become an icon of a nation.
a few kwela tunes on ‘Township Jive & Kwela Jazz Volume 2′ start with some jive talking in an unknown language. At first I thought it sounded quite like Afrikaans, with a pinch of Zulu or Xhosa in da mix maybe? After all, South Africa claims 11 official languages and in a city like Cape Town that’s home to an eclectic mix of cultures it is easy to hear this sort of street jive. In the 1950′s, the neighbourhood District Six near Cape Town was the birthplace of an extremely lively and eclectic brew of a patois spoken mainly amongst the Cape Coloreds and certain groups of blacks, hottentots, Cape Malay and the Khoi San.
The Apartheid regime brought an extremely uncertain time for black and colored people so a slang as a sort of protection shield was born. At the time black music did not get much national radio coverage at all, although some black radio stations broadcasted for local communities. The music was either played live in the streets -the birthplace of kwela- or experienced in theatres and public halls. Left wings white South Africans, politically open minded people also found their way to these local get-togethers to hear some of the finest black and colored musicians on the scene.
The spoken intro’s of some of the kwela songs are characteristic conversations between the musicians, often in a humoristic slang, always extremely funny. Here are 3 examples culled from ‘Township Jive & Kwela Jazz Volume 2′ and translated into English as accurate as possible.
Track nr. 7 ‘Ek Se Cherry ‘by Lemmy Special and The Mofolo Kids; a conversation between a man and a woman who argue about the man’s infidelity to his wife. The woman tells the man that people in the township are talking about his behaviour,that he is seeing a ‘cherry’ ( a loose woman). The man denies but the woman teases him and tells the man firmly -Ek sê Cherry – ‘I say that you are seeing a loose woman’.
Ek sê, Eksê (Eh-k-s-eh): Afrikaans for, ‘I say’. Used either at the beginning or end of a statement. “Ek sê my bru, let’s braai tomorrow.” “This party is duidelik, ek sê!”
Track nr. 5 ‘Skanda Mayeza’ by The Benoni Flute Quintet translates as such; “Yes folks, the man heard from you so nice as Two Kop Pak. All must raise the roof. Where is it going with you and old Two Kop Pak. Carly from the Kasbahs. There were the day never was a grass. The life was nice like the cabin in the sky. Go Totsi.”
Track nr 8 ‘Broadway’ by Alexander Sweet Flutes translates as such; ” Hey men, have you heard of the Bell -telephone call-? How Edward, how Space and how Azaren can really really mean what the Tow Can dobbo”.
Thanks to Susie Mullins and Kevin for the research and the translation.
See also Your Guide to Cape Town Slang
Awê, get the low-down on the Mother City’s colourful colloquialisms and sayings, ek sê…
Ag (ah-ch): An expression of irritation or resignation. “Ag no man!” “Ag, these things happen”
Awê (ah-weh): A greeting. “Awê, brother!”
Babbelas (bah-bah-luss): Derived from the isiZulu word, ‘i-babalazi’, meaning drunk; adopted into the Afrikaans language as a term for ‘hangover’. “I have a serious babbelas!”
Bakkie (bah-kee): 1. A bowl. “Put those leftovers in a bakkie.” 2. A pick-up truck. “We all jumped on the back of my dad’s bakkie and went to the beach.”
Befok (buh-fawk): 1. Really good, amazing, cool. “The Symphonic Rocks concert is going to be befok!” 2. Crazy, mad, insane. “You tried to put your cat in the braai? Are you befok?”
Bergie (bear-ghee): Derived from berg, Afrikaans for ‘mountain’. Originally used to refer to vagrants living in the forests of Table Mountain, the word is now a mainstream term used to describe vagrants in Cape Town.
Bra (brah), bru (brew): Derived from broer, Afrikaans for ‘brother’; a term of affection for male friends; equivalent to dude. “Howzit my bru!”“Jislaaik bra, it’s been ages since I last saw you!”
Braai (br-eye): Barbeque (noun and verb). “Let’s throw a tjop on the braai.” “We’re going to braai at a friend’s house.”
Duidelik (day-duh-lik): Cool, awesome, amazing. “That bra’s car looks duidelik!”
Eish (ay-sh): isiZulu interjection; an exclamation meaning ‘oh my’, ‘wow’, ‘oh dear’, ‘good heavens’. A: “Did you hear? My brother got into a fight with a bergie!” B: “Eish! Is he hurt!”
Eina (Ay-nah): An exclamation used when pain is experienced, ‘ouch!’. “Eina! Don’t pinch me.”
Entjie (eh-n-chee): A cigarette. “Come smoke an entjie with me.”
Guardjie, gaatjie (gah-chee): The guard who calls for passengers and takes in the money on a minibus taxi.
hhayi-bo (isiZulu), hayibo (isiXhosa) (haai-boh): An interjection meaning ‘hey’; ‘no way’.“Hayibo wena, you can’t park there!”
Howzit (how-zit): A greeting meaning ‘hi’; shortened form of ‘how’s it going?’
Is it?: Used as acknowledgement of a statement, but not to ask a question – as one might assume. Most closely related to the English word ‘really’. A: “This guy mugged me and said I must take off my takkies!” B: “Is it?”
Ja (yaah): Afrikaans for ‘yes’. A: “Do you want to go to a dance club tonight?” B: “Ja, why not?”
Ja-nee (yah-near): Afrikaans for yes-no. Meaning ‘Sure!’ or ‘That’s a fact!’ Usually used in agreement with a statement. A: “These petrol price hikes are going to be the death of me.” B: “Ja-nee, I think I need to invest in a bicycle.”
Jol (jaw-l): (noun and verb) 1. A party or dance club. “We’re going to the jol.” “That party was an absolute jol!” 2. Used to describe the act of cheating. “I heard he was jolling with another girl.”
Jislaaik (yiss-like): An expression of astonishment. “Jislaaik, did you see that car go?”
Kak (kuh-k): 1. Afrikaans for ‘shit’. Rubbish, nonsense, inferior, crap or useless. “What a kak phone.” “Your driving is kak.” 2. Extremely, very. “That girl is kak hot!”
Kwaai (kw-eye): Derived from the Afrikaans word for ‘angry’, ‘vicious’, ‘bad-tempered’. Cool, awesome, great. “Those shoes are kwaai.”
Lekker (leh-kah): 1. Nice, delicious. “Local is lekker!” 2. Extremely, very. “South Africans are lekker sexy!”
Mielie (mee-lee): Afrikaans term for corn, corn-on-the-cob.
Nee (nee-ah): Afrikaans for ‘no’.
Naartjie (naah-chee): Afrikaans term for citrus unshiu, a seedless, easy peeling species of citrus also known as a ‘satsuma mandarin’.
Potjie, potjiekos (poi-kee-kaws): Afrikaans term for pot food/stew comprised of meat, chicken, vegetables or seafood slow-cooked over low coals in a three-legged cast iron pot.
Shame: A term of endearment and sympathy (not condescending). “Ag shame, sorry to hear about your cat.” “Oh shame! Look how cute your baby is!”
Shisa Nyama (shee-seen-yah-mah): isiZulu origin – while shisa means ‘burn’ or to be hot and nyama means ‘meat’, used together the term means ‘braai’ or ‘barbeque’. “Come on, let’s go to Mzoli’s for a lekker shisa nyama!”
Sisi (see-see): Derived from both isiXhosa and isiZulu words for sister, usisi and osisi (plural). “Hayibo sisi, you must stop smoking so many entjies!”
Sosatie (soo-saah-tees): Kebabs, skewered meat. “Let’s throw a few sosaties on the braai.”
Takkies (tack-kees): Trainers, sneakers, running shoes. “I want to start running, again but I need a new pair of takkies.”
Tjommie, chommie (choh-mee): Afrikaans slang for ‘friend’. “Hey tjommie, when are we going to the beach again?”
Vrot (frawt): Rotten; most often used to describe food that’s gone off or a state of being sick. “Those tomatoes are vrot.” “Champagne makes me feel vrot!”
Voetsek (foot-sek): Afrikaans for ‘get lost’, much like the British expression, ‘bog off’. “Hey voetsek man!”
Wena (weh-nah): isiXhosa and isiZulu for ‘you’. “Hey wena, where’s the R20 you owe me?”
Wys (vay-ss): Show, tell, describe. “Don’t wys me, I know where I’m going.”
So, whether you’re asking for directions, engaging with the locals or just eavesdropping in a taxi, let’s hope this guide will give you some insight into what’s being said. And keep in mind, if anyone says “Joe Mah Sah…” just know, it’s not a compliment.
It’s official folks! Soul Safari is proud to announce the release of our second compilation in collaboration with the International Library of African Music (ILAM), Grahamstown, South Africa. 18 rare gems of Township Jive & Kwela Jazz from South Africa recorded between 1930-1962.
Official date of release; November 18th 2013
Available now in LP, CD formats and iTunes downloads!
18 tunes of raw kwela and pennywhistle jive, great rhythm & blues, accordion jive and vocal jazz; true messages of joy and hope recorded between 1930-1962 in South Africa.
my last safari through the concrete jungle of cities like New York City and Philadelphia generated a lot of great finds, not just African music but a few interesting otherwordly records as well. What about The Afro-Latin Soultet ‘Wild!’, a truely rare jazz-soul gem rarely seen in the wild.
Best catch of this safari must be the American release of Spokes Mashiyane’s LP ‘King Kwela’, recorded during his first US live tour, The Boyoyo Boys ‘Back In Town’, Josef Marais, and Dorothy Masuka ‘Pata Pata’ as runner up… maybe not the holy grails I was looking for in the first place but still a decent selection of music from the African diaspora that I like to share with you. More info and mp3 files in coming posts….and my experience of diggin’ in Philadelphia will be revealed shortly.
The second Soul Safari compilation features 18 rare gems of Township Jive & Kwela Jazz from South Africa. At present time this collection is being prepared for release as a 180 grams premium vinyl edition. Date of release and more formats to be confirmed soon…
18 tunes of raw kwela and pennywhistle jive, some great rhythm & blues, accordion jive and vocal jazz; true messages of joy and hope that were recorded between 1930 -1962.
1 Flying Jazz Twist -Twisting Sisters (1960) 2’.20”
6 Quintet Special -Benoni Flute Quintet (1930) 2’.59”
7 Ek Se Cherry -Lemmy Special and the Mofolo Kids (1960) 2’.28”
8 Broadway -Alexander Sweet Flutes (1960) 2’.55”
9 Jacko Mambo -Aron & Pieter (1956) 2’.41”
1 Ziyavuma Mambo -Aron & Pieter (1956) 2’.34”
2 Baya Ndi Nemeza -The Skylarks with Miriam Makeba (1962) 2’.31”
3 Paulina -The V Dolls (1940) 2’.14”
4 Egoli -Mighty Queens (1940) 2’.17”
5 Sala Sithandwa -Mighty Queens (1940) 2’.10”
6 Teku Special -Richard Nombali (1960) 2’.22”
7 Nozipho -Ndlovu Brothers (1960) 2’.16”
8 Ubundibetelantoni -Sample Siroqo (1960) 2’.34”
9 7-2-7 -Kid Ma Wrong Wrong (1940) 2’.15”
Most “African” recordings from 1930 -1962 in South Africa were issued only on breakable 78 shellac discs and poorly locally distributed in an era when Apartheid ruled. Few hundred copies a title perhaps found a home, if one was lucky to possess a record player.
The surviving discs landed mostly in collections and sometimes in air-conditioned archives, never to be played again. Until now, that is. A new chapter is here; volume 2 of Township Jive & Kwela Jazz, compiled by Eddy De Clercq for this blog.
Feel the energy of pennywhistle jive by The Benoni Flute Quintet, a group that had a big hit with their recording of ‘Skanda Mayeza’ in 1930. The tune was originally recorded as a vocal and The Benoni Flute Quintet picked up the tune on their penny whistles; their playing of it established the tune as one of the all time favourite with the Africans. On this compilation the original humorous spoken intro is kept intact, later versions were released without this spoken intro.Hear the battle of wild basslines in ‘Ek Se Cherry’ by Lemmy Special with vocal group The Mofolo Kids (1960). ‘SesirInyembezi’ is a superb Zulu cover version of the American original doo-wop hit ‘Book Of Love’ (The Monotones) by The Batchelors featuring ThokoTomo (1962)
Or listen to the delicious vocal harmonies of ‘Flying Jazz Twist’ by Twisting Sisters, a vocal group who were popular enough in the 1960′s for Gallo Records to release two hot sides on one platter. In 1956 Aron & Pieter did the mambo, African style while the festive upbeat vocal swing of ‘Tshidi’ by Martindale Stars (1960) remains timeless.
All recordings were prepared and mastered from the original 78 rpm shellac discs as found in the archives at ILAM in Grahamstown, South Africa. The goal was to clear the dust and dirt of decades gone by, while preserving the original dynamics and keep the sound as little altered as possible.
So you thought that Kwela represents just some dusty old grooves from the early days? A sound, a style that was popular way back in 1930, 1956 or 1960? Think again.
Those years surely may have defined the original Kwela style of pioneers like the Benoni Flute Quintet or Spokes Mashiyane but there’s more news as Kwela lives on. Today’s selection of tunes can be heard and seen on the almighty YouTube channell. Here is a small selection of new South African Kwela jive tunes, based upon readers post;TebogoLerole on Elias and His Zig Zag Jive Flutes
I agree this is an amazing blog and I must say my dad truly appreciates all this. His name is Elias Shamber Lerole – founder of Elias and His Zig Zag Jive Flutes and composer of the hit Tom Hark. He is a very proud man, his legacy and that of other famous penny whistlers lives on through my brothers and I. Our band Kwela Tebza has been striving hard to put Kwela music on the map.