Caluza’s Double Quartet -makwaya music on 78 rpmApril 5, 2011
Good day all. Today’s post shines a light on two more 78’s found in my Karoo-box, see also previous post Zulu Motor Trophies 2011 -Carnival Coon Minstrels
The compositions on these shellac discs have a long history, the songs go back to the early days of the 1920’s when a church minister called R.T. Caluza started writing music. His work proves to be the missing link to modern day SA vocal styles like isicathamiya and mbube.
But as usual, a little historical perspective is helpful here.
All recordings of the original 78 discs have been processed to improve the listening experience.
The following excerpts from ‘Soweto Blues’ by Glen Ansell (Continuum New York 2004)….
R.T. Caluza was a minister who composed and performed hymns for school and church halls, traditional music, songs of social commentary, dance tunes and even vaudeville and ragtime. He taught at the Ohlange Institute in Natal, originally founded by the Reverend John Dube on the model of Tuskegee, where he had studied –another instance of the impression made by African-American models of self-reliant development. Caluza turned the Institute Choir into a profitable touring group, then branched out into other kinds of performance, playing for rowdy location dances as well as the stylish and refined clerks and domestic servants who frequented Johannesburg Inchcape Hall.
Caluza became a national hero when he wrote the song ‘iLand Act’, the first anthem of the South African Native National Congress (founded in 1912, the NNC was the forerunner of today’s African National Congress (ANC).
‘We cry for our land, Zulu, Xhosa and Sotho, Unite! We are mad over the Land Act. A terrible law that allows sojourners, to deny us our land’.
The cities in the early 20’s and 30’s in South Africa were home not only to poor laborers crushed together in compounds and slum yards. There were also teachers, clergymen, clerks, and others aspiring to equality with whites on the basis of their very real social and economic achievements. For this group, the visit of the Virginia Jubilee Singers from the USA had been a key moment, offering as it did a model of progressive civilization. ‘Jubilee music’ fits well into a society that already had a strong choral tradition, musical literacy, and even outlets for composition and music publishing through the ‘Lovedale series’ imprint. Note that the hymns featured here are sung in the Zulu language, recorded in Johannesburg and the discs were manufactured by The Gramophone Co. Ltd, Hayes, Middlesex, England.
Songs like ‘iLand Act’ gave voice to both the identity and the aspirations of this group. They were part of a certain repertoire known as makwaya music, whose early development is strongly associated with graduates of the missions in Natal and the Eastern Cape. Makwaya music included European or American-derived hymns, African-composed pentatonic hymns, suitably adapted traditional songs, and ragtime, spirituals and vaudeville pieces.
In Cape Town, ‘Jubilee’ styles and repertoire reached beyond the working men’s clubs. They were heard by singers in the Malay choirs. They were taken up by the players of violins and guitars (along with bones and banjos) performing at social occasions where the vastrap, with its rhythms borrowed from Dutch farmer’s folk tunes, and the fast-paced tickie draai –whose translated title literally exhorted dancers to ‘spin on a three-penny piece’- were danced. But more on that later.
See also this CD release
Caluza’s Double Quartet 1930
Label : Heritage
Serial Number : HT CD 19
released July 1993
4 Sa ni bona
6 Vul’indhlela mnta ka dube
7 Umteto we land act
11 Iculo la setafamasi
12 Uhiki nomana
13 Ngi tshele dudu
14 Si xotshwa emsebenzini
15 Kwati be lele
16 M lete jimi
17 Wa q’um udalimede
18 Amanigel coons
19 Idipu e tekwini
20 Ba bulawa ini abakiti