King Kong -programme The New London Version 1961

August 22, 2014

king kong london programme cover

king kong london programme titel pagina 20

The original South African stage production “King Kong, All African Jazz Opera“ went overseas to be premiered in London, UK  in 1961 after having taking South Africa by storm.  The cast and production numbers were altered for the London version of “King Kong, All African Jazz Opera”.  The London show was presented by Union Artists, also known as the Union of Southern African Artists. Founded in 1952 this organisation came into being with the dual function of promoting the talent that had already been shown to exist in the musical and dramatic  field and to act as an Artists’ Equity. The Union promoted Township Jazz concerts which were the first large scale African entertainment shows to be presented in Johannesburg, and arranged for non-European audiences to see and hear a wide range of entertainment like Dame Flora Robson and Rosalinde Fuller, among others.  It also provided rehearsal facilities, advice on a variety of topics, and opportunity of employment of its members.

Six years after the Union was formed ‘King Kong’ was presented. The musical was a spectacular success, over 100.000 people saw this South African production in the first months after its premiere. After ‘King Kong’ Union Artists went into the production of another all-black cast musical ‘Mhkumbane’,  written by Alan Paton with music by Todd Matshikiza.

 see also King Kong -Original London Stage Cast 1961

 Copy of king kong London programme merged

click on images to enlarge

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“Afro Mood”-a burlesque short with exotic dancer Amalia Aguilar

August 11, 2014

Amalia Aguilar-Afro Mood

Afro Mood

A burlesque short film starring exotic dancer Amalia Aguilar.  “Afro Mood” is one of two numbers that she performed in a movie entitled “A Night at the Follies”, which was made in 1947. The name of the other number she performs in that film is “Rumba-Amalia”.

Spectacular dancing to African and Afro-Cuban music, tribal dancing for the  theatre. What this has to do with Africa, though, is questionable but the music and the tribal dance sequence are great. As far as the term “Afro” in the title, sometimes Latin music like Rumba is referred to as “Afro-Cuban” music, as a major portion of its origins are from Africa.


Amalia Aguilar -Afro Mood


Africa, the most homophobic continent on earth?

August 3, 2014



Amsterdam Gay Pride 2014 -Canal Parade

for the first time  a boat with passengers dressed  in long pink djellabahs and red fez showed up.
Not everyone is charmed by scantily clad, sweaty male bodies,” said Said El Haji, the frontman of the Maroccan gay community  in the Netherlands.

In Amsterdam the canals turned pink during the annual Gay Pride Parade of 2014 while gays in Senegal, one of many African countries that outlaw homosexuality, still have to struggle for their freedom. Senegal, mostly Islamitic, is also the land where gays remain the pariahs of society, they can’t even be buried. See this shocking documentary by Metropolis TV, filmed in Dakar.

Homosexuality in Senegal is illegal by law. Whoever comes out of the closet, loses his family, his job and his home.
A gay person becomes a pariah. Only the very strongest survive. Most gay men choose a heterosexual marriage, and lead a secret second life.

Go see the exhibition ‘dans le milieu’ by Dutch photographer Ernst Coppejans in de Melkweg Galerie (Amsterdam) until August 17th 2014.

More on this exhibiton and the work of Ernst Coppejans on pinkbink.nl

photography; Ernst Coppejans

photography; Ernst Coppejans

Amnesty International says 38 African countries criminalize homosexuality.
In four of those — Mauritania, northern Nigeria, southern Somalia and Sudan — the punishment is death.
These laws appear to have broad public support.
Senegal, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Nigeria are other countries where  homosexuality is not accepted by society.

So is Africa the most homophobic continent on earth?

NO! During the Gay Pride the news came that in Uganda the strict anti-gay laws were abolished by the Constitutional Court. A relief for many Ugandans which attended last weekend in Amsterdam. They came as criminals to the city and left the country as free people. In the future, there are plans for a Gay Pride parade on the beach of Lake Victoria

See also this Zulu gay couple being married in South Africa. There is still hope for Africa.

anti-gay laws


Paa Kow presents Modern Afro-Fusion from Ghana

July 30, 2014

 Paa Kow 3

Take the beat of Ghana’s traditional sound, add some American flavor, and mix it with Paa Kow’s stellar drumming chops. That is the musical recipe for a flavoursome sound, a “new” sound as Paa Kow (pronounced Pah – Ko) describes it. Whatever you call it, Paa Kow’s blend of traditional West African styles with American and Caribbean music surely is a highly danceable sound driven by intricate rhythms. After all, the man is known as a world-renowned percussionist, bandleader, composer and teacher born and raised in Ghana.

Due to its cosmopolitan geographic position on the African continent Ghana has always been a melting pot of many styles of traditional and modern music. The best known modern genre is Highlife until the introduction of Hiplife in the late 1990s. The originator of this style is Reggie Rockstone, a Ghanaian musician who dabbled with hip-hop in the United States before finding his unique style. Hiplife basically was hiphop in the Ghanaian local dialect backed by elements of the traditional High-life.

While living in Accra, Paa Kow had a chance meeting with a traveling student from CU Boulder (CO, USA) named Peyton Shuffield. He was looking for a highlife drummer to study with and, after talking with various Accra musicians, all roads led to Ghana’s best and youngest talent. The friendship was instantaneous and Paa Kow was invited to the University of Colorado as a guest artist and teacher.

 His musical and cultural exchange with musicians in the U.S. gave rise to his Afro-Fusion sound. With his group, Paa Kow put together materials for his debut album “Hand Go Hand Come.” The material was an early masterpiece of rhythmic precision, talented lyricism, and original fusion of West African Pop with Jazz impressions.

Paa Kow is currently touring across America and will release his second studio album ´Ask’ in August of 2014.

“Fakye Me (Forgive Me)”
from his upcoming album Ask, out 8 /19!

Paa Kow Ask


See full information on tours, bio and more on Paa Kow Music

Inspired by his musical and cultural exchange with artists in the U.S., Paa Kow and his orchestra fuse traditional rhythms, time signatures, and the Fante language from Ghana with funk and jazz to create an Afro-Fusion sound set apart by its “flexibility and finesse” (Modern Ghana).



4 hour music special -South African jazz, soul & funk -Listen@Radio 6 Vrije Geluiden (VPRO) -26th July 2014

July 27, 2014

Radio 6 Vrije  Geluiden (VPRO) -20.000h-24.000h

een 4 uur durende muziekspecial over Zuid Afrikaanse jazz, soul & funk door dj Eddy De Clercq & Frank Jochemsen. In dit programma gaat samensteller Eddy De Clercq terug naar de geschiedenis van jazz en de diverse invloeden van Nederland en Engeland in de muziek van Zuid Afrika. Vooral in Cape Jazz is dit duidelijk terug te horen maar ook in latere stijlen als township jive & kwela jazz zitten elementen welke Westers aandoen maar verweven worden met typische Zuid Afrikaanse melodieën en zang. Maar ook de excellente soul-jazz uit 1969 -een belangrijke periode in dit genre- komt aan bod, alsook de Mzansi House van 2014 naast enkele eigen producties van Eddy De Clercq & Friends, opgenomen in Zuid Afrika. Luister!

Radio 6 Vrije  Geluiden (VPRO) -20.000h-24.000h

A 4 hour music special about South African music; jazz, soul & funk by dj Eddy De Clercq & Frank Jochemsen. In this program, compiler Eddy De Clercq dives deep into the history of
South African jazz and the various influences of the Netherlands and England on the music of the country. Especially in Cape Jazz these influences are clear, but also in later styles as township jive & jazz kwela  Western genres like R&B and jazz are interwoven with typical South African melodies and vocals. But also the excellent soul-jazz of 1969-an important period in this genre- is discussed, as well as the Mzansi House 2014 alongside some of Eddy De Clercq’s own productions, recorded in South Africa.

The programme is presented in the Dutch language, but the music speaks for itself. Listen!

Vrije Geluiden 26 Juli 2014

dj Eddy De Clercq & presentator Frank Jochemsen

Vrije Geluiden Radio 6 20.00h-24.00h -26th July 2014-Theme: South Africa



4 songs to keep peace in Kenya

July 11, 2014

Naïve? Oh well, only wishful thinking…

Slim Ali and The Hodi Boys -Sweet Mother -Kenya 1977

Slim Ali and The Hodi Boys present The Sound that made Kenya famous a.o. with the hard driving Benga beat spread from Malawi to Senegal and South Africa…

Read more on the multi-cultural melting pot of Kenya’s music on the excellent Addis Rumble blog

Rare album from 1977 released in South Africa, tough to find and presented here as today’s post. Peace!



Slim Ali And The Hodi Boys -Sweet Mother label A. gecomp


Slim Ali & Co in the studio -Credit: Fusion Magazine archives

Addis Rumble blog (thanks for the pic of Slim Ali & Co)



Go See Afrika Festival. Hertme Twente 5-6th July 2014

July 4, 2014


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Ah Glorious Summer! Now that the weather finally feels tropical here in Holland, it’s time go out and see some new African bands –and a few old favourites too-  at the Afrikafestival in Hertme, Twente. Now in its 26th year

 From 13:00 on Saturday 5th of July right through to 01:00 on Sunday 6th of July, there will be six groups playing. Three will be performing in the Netherlands for the first time and one of the groups will even be playing in Europe for the first time– a European debut!

 The festival starts with Aziz Sahmaoui & University of Gnawa from Morocco. This group is often used to close the show at festivals, but in Hertme they will be the opening act. The Gnawa trance of Aziz will evolve into the heady trance of the BKO Quintet from Mali in which the hunters-ngoni from the Wassoulou area and the griot ngoni meet.

Singer Nancy Vieira from Cape Verde with her swinging ballads provides a haven of rest in the afternoon. They are one of the most promising new live bands in Ghana. This is their European debut – an exclusive for Hertme. Do not miss the chance to see this new exciting band performing for the first time outside Africa.

As night begins to fall, it will be time for Black Bazar. This group brings a mix of rumba and soukous from Congo. Next on stage will be Debademba from Burkina Faso/Mali. Both groups delivering us with an explosive dance party on this summer night.

Sunday 6th of July is the day of the big names.

At 12:00 o’clock the day kicks off with the magic and virtuoso guitar playing of Teta from Madagascar.

Mamar Kassey are an old acquaintance of Hertme having played there in 2008. Since then, they  have become one of the top African bands.

Yacouba Moumouni -Mamar Kassey photograph by Daniel Cohen

Yacouba Moumouni -Mamar Kassey
photograph by Daniel Cohen

The excellent Ethiopian Circus Debre Berhan will amaze you while Fendika provides explosive music and ‘shoulder-dance’.

habtanesh circus derbere behan by Andy Moor

hisak & ashenafi circus derbere behan by Andy Moor.

The first African circus working with disabled and deaf people

The amazing Ethiopian Circus Debre Berhan was formed in 1998 in the town of the same name, three hours away from Addis. One can find circuses all around Ethiopia, in Addis Abeba and in various smaller towns. Although it’s not an old tradition in the country circus has a very important impact on communities, as they often mix stories about society (violence on women, HIV prevention, etc.) and more straightforward performances. The Circus is working with more than 100 acrobats, including children.

One of the important features in this circus, however, lies in the fact that it employs performers who have physical disabilities as well as those who are deaf. It is the first African circus working with disabled people. These performers, both those in the children’s act and the adult’s act, are extremely talented. Circus Debre Berhan’s shows open with the children’s beautiful and often very challenging acrobatics, followed by the adult act, which is staggering in its intricacy and difficulty. The performances are usually held in public spaces such as markets and main squares where possible in order to reach and entertain as many people as possible.

At the moment, Circus Debre Berhan is touring all over Ethiopia with its hundred or so performers split into small groups, to cover the vast countryside. If it continues its success, it will hopefully help change perceptions of disability and stigma.

melaku &zenash -fendika by Andy Moor

melaku & zenash -fendika by Andy Moor


nardos - fendika by Andy Moor

nardos – fendika by Andy Moor

  Fendika (Ethiopia)

Ferocious five-piece band with two phenomenal dancers


Fendika is a troupe of highly accomplished Azmari musicians and dancers. Founded in 2009 by Melaku Belay, a leading dancer, the ensemble is based at Melaku’s famous music club Fendika Azmari Bet in Addis Abeba. In Ethiopian culture, an Azmari bet is a traditional house of music where people come to be entertained, informed, and sometimes playfully insulted by the Azmari, who serve as current events commentators while they dance, sing, and play for tips.

Melaku is one of Ethiopia’s foremost dancers of the eskesta, a traditional Ethiopian trance dance of athletic shoulder movements. Growing up as a street kid, Melaku learned many regional dances of Ethiopia. He has travelled throughout Ethiopia to learn the dance traditions of the country’s 80 tribal groups. The musicians and dancers of Fendika present a cultural journey starting in the highlands of Tigray, Wollo, Gonder, and Gojam and so on.


Melaku Belay, dances;

Zinash Tsegaye, dance;

Misale Legesse, kobero (trad. drums);

Endris Hassen, masinko (one cord violin);

Nardos Tesfaw, vocals.


The biggest highlight of the 26th Africa Festival will be the historic reunion of Les Ambassadeurs. One of the members of this legendary group is Salif Keita. Together with his colleagues from the 1970’s, he will play the finest Malian music from that period.

Habib Koité hardly needs no further introduction. He closes the festival with his new band. It will also be the presentation of his new CD Soô.

listen to some live recordings of previous editions of the Afrika festival in Hertme, Twente


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