Goodbye 2011, welcome 2012. Best wishes!

so have you enjoyed the holidays? Just like last year my visit to the colonial museum in Tervuren, Belgium was a special experience. The Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) in Tervuren  is one of the most fascinating and beautiful African institutions in the world. The exhibition “UNCENSORED. Colorful stories behind the scenes”, is the last exhibition before the major renovation  begins at the end of 2012 and is your last chance to visit a traditional ‘colonial museum .

elephant in the snow The Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren B

This time my interest was stirred since I received these rare recordings  as a Christmas present, made by Jos Gansemans in 1973 in Zaire, sponsored by the Royal Museum for Central Africa. The recordings come from a people called the Salampasu, which are distinguished by the use of the  xylophone, similar to the music of the  Mchopi tribe or Chopi, a Bantu-speaking people of northern Mozambique on the borders of Tanganyika. See also my previous post more African tribal dances from the Witwatersrand Gold Mines …

Mask Sakashya Makondi

Dances of the Salampasu, Zaire

The territory of the Salampasu in the south of the Kasayi province/Zaire is bordered by the Lulua and the Kasayi-rivers. Their neighbouring people are the Lunda in the South, the Kete in the north and east and the Lwalwa in the west.

Because of their bloodthirsty behaviour and because of the headhunting, in the past frequently attended by cannibalism, they became very feared. Consequently they remained a homogeneous people that succeeded in keeping its traditions, language and customs free from foreign influences.

To dance, the Salampasu dress up themselves with all kinds of skins, head-dresses and body paintings. The ritual characteristics find their best expression in the head-hunting dance matambu, the mask dances and the dances held during the healing rituals as there the Luanda, the mfuku, the utshumbu and the kabulukuta, the latter exclusively being performed by women. On the organological level they differ from the Lunda, Kete and Luba by the apparent preference they give to the xylophone madimba, the most important instrument of their orchestras.

From the liner notes of the album ‘Zaire, Musique de Salampasu’ Radio France BRT 1981 by Jos Gansemans

Zaire -Salampasu -Nazuji

Zaire -Salampasu -Sanza Ensemble

Salampasu -Misengu dance

Zaire -Salampasu -Misengu

Misengu dance

The misengu dance, Mukasa Nsaka, is one of the most impressive dances of the Salampasu.

The quantity of dancers easily amounts up to around a hundred, separated in two groups.

Now and then the groups are facing each other, they run around while dancing and threaten each other with their fightful swords, meanwhile they stamp loudly on the floor and made resound their ankle-rattles isuka. The xylophone and drum orchestra accompanying this dance is composed of four madimba xylophones, two ngoma drums beaten with the hands and two cylindrical drums ikandi on which they play with two sticks.

 Zaire -Salampasu -Kalesa

All recordings from the album ‘Zaire, Musique de Salampasu’ Radio France BRT 1981

One thought on “Dances of the Salampasu, Zaire

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s