thanks to our friends at LP Cover Lover for spreading the gospel about Sam Sklair. I’ve had feedback from a lot of places that I never could have expected. Find the original posts with MP3’s here Sam Sklair -Gumboot Dance vol 1 & 2 and here Sam Sklair -POP goes the gumboot
Sam Sklair certainly deserves his title as ‘Bleached Zulu’ for he not only re-worked traditional Zulu and other South African songs into pop charting material in the 60’s and 70’s but he was also composing for TV and movies with an African theme.
For ”Tokoloshe” (The Evil Spirit), an independent movie produced in 1965, by director Peter Browse, Sam Sklair composed the soundtrack and played traditional instruments like the kalimba (m’bira), chopi piano and slit drums together with classical and jazz musicians for the recording sessions. While these instruments play a major role in Sam Sklair’s arrangements he has avoided using them in any traditional sense. There are no ‘jungle music’ clichés but he uses these instruments rather in a way that juxtaposes or blends their primitive sounds with the complex tones of a modern orchestra. Cast includes Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi … Zulu Chief, Sid James … Blind Man, Saul Pelle … Boy, Jimmy Sabe … Witchdoctor
excerpts from the original liner notes of ‘Tokoloshe’ (1965) Teal TL 1136
Anyone from Africa, particularly southern Africa will be familiar with the tokoloshe and even those who scoff at its existence will have their beds elevated on bricks just to be sure that the dwarf like tokoloshe can’t reach them while they sleep.
Once the ‘tokoloshe’ is explained to non-Africans they soon recognize this creature. He is the European version of a goblin, gremlin, leprechaun, water sprite, faerie or demon. Whenever something goes awry it is the tokoloshe who is to blame. The tokoloshe is a short, hairy, dwarf-like creature controlled by witches, from Bantu folklore. It is a mischievous and evil spirit that can become invisible by swallowing a pebble.
The penis of the tokoloshe is so long that it has to be slung over his shoulder. Thus sexually well endowed, the duties of the tokoloshe include making love to its witch mistress. In return, it is rewarded with milk and food.
The witch keeps the tokoloshe docile by cutting the fringe of hair that hangs over its eyes. The way to get rid of a tokoloshe is to call in the n’anga or witch doctor who has the power to banish him from the area. Witch doctors make a magical substance from the body of a dead tokolosh, which makes the tokoloshe visible and paralyzes him, allowing the witch doctor to kill him. This ‘muti’ is sold throughout Africa as protection against tokoloshes and the genuine article leaves a cold mark on the skin where it is rubbed in.
excerpts from an original text by Safari Newsreel. Photo’s by Aiden Chole