Soul Safari presents Township Jive & Kwela Jazz Volume 2 (1930-1962) sneak preview

Words can not describe the sensation of compiling yet another collection of jive and kwela jazz shellac 78’s that were found in the ILAM archives in Grahamstown, South Africa.

Most “African” recordings from the fifties and sixties in South Africa were issued on 78 shellac discs and only compiled to LP for the “overseas/white” market in very limited quantities. So one can imagine how rare these records actually are.

The selection of Volume 2 of ‘Township Jive & Kwela Jazz’ features 18 songs that were recorded between 1930 to 1962. Most of these were no big hits, only The Skylarks with Miriam Makeba and The Batchelors featuring Thoko Tomo are the better known names on this compilation.

The latter knew some local success with their Zulu translation of an American Doo Wop original; ‘Book Of Love’ by The Monotones, a one-hit wonder, as their only hit single peaked at #5 on the Billboard Top 100 in 1958.  ‘Sesik’Inyembezi’ was also released as an ep on New Sound XEP 7025 where the two tracks of the original single by The Bachelors comprise the B side. The A side is by The Skylarks with Miriam Makeba. Interestingly the front of the ep sleeve features a photograph of and mentions only The Skylarks with Miriam Makeba – suggests that The Bachelors were very much the lesser act in sales potential.

All recordings were prepared and mastered from the original 78 rpm shellac discs as found in the archives at ILAM. The goal was to clear the dust and dirt of decades gone by, while preserving the original dynamics and to keep the sound as little altered as possible.

Here is a sneak preview of some of the selections that can be found on ‘Township Jive & Kwela Jazz Volume 2”. Full tracklist + mp3 review to be revealed in my next post. Do check it out!

kudos to Alex. Sinclair for sharing his knowledge 

Township Jive & Kwela Jazz vol 2 -preview coming soon

TownshipJiveKwelaJazzVol2 -iTunes voorkant

new volume of our own compilation ‘Township Jive & Kwela Jazz’ coming soon!

more details in following posts….

‘The Magic Garden’ aka The Pennywhistle Blues (1951) –Willard Cele

a valuable link to some musical scenes from the movie ‘The Magic Garden’ has been added by our friends at The Kwela Project. Essential viewing. See also the comments on this post. Appreciated!

Willard Cele On His Flageolet With Rhythm Accompaniment

The Pennywhistle Blues  –The Pennywhistle Boogie (1951)

both sides recorded unaltered from the actual 78 rpm

Willard Cele -Penny Whistle Blues Gallotone A side gecomp Willard Cele -Penny Whistle Blues Gallotone B side gecomp

In 1951 Willard Cele and his tin flute appeared in the landmark South African film, ‘The Magic Garden’ (a.k.a. ‘The Pennywhistle Blues’).

It greatly helped to popularize the instrument and inspired many to play, including Spokes Mashiyane, who would become a superstar of Kwela in the mid-1950’s and into the sixties.

dolly rathebe mic
Dolly Rathebe performing in the 50’s

This movie is one of the first to feature Kwela for a big audience and Dolly Rathebe, one of my favourite singers is starring in it as well.

The story tells a gentle, wistful tale of life in a black township, with the hero being a small-time thief who plays a penny whistle.

The cast are non-professionals, but the pacing and visuals are certainly of high quality. High point: When the local police lift a garbage can lid and see the thief inside, one looks at the other and says, “Man, the housing shortage is worse than I thought.” Dumb remark, but endearing. Especially since they carefully put the lid back on, and go on their way.

Much of its charm is to do with the age of the film and the success of the Cinematographer in actually teaching the actors to act as this was a first film for all the cast.

This film is used in USA universities as the first of its ilk from the early 1950s with an all-black cast. Fun. Nice countryside and scenery, giving the viewer a taste of South Africa before its troubles.

About Willard Cele

Willard Cele, a crippled South African flageolet player who is regarded as the pioneer of South African Kwela music, often credited as having been the first to bring the inherently upbeat sound of the Pennywhistle to the medium.

On both the South African and English record label he’s credited as playing the Flageolet, which is sort of the refined older cousin to the Tin Whistle or Pennywhistle.

willard cele -penny whistle blues London Records UK

‘The Magic Garden’ (1951)

Also Known As: La soupe à la citrouille

63 min – Comedy | Drama | Music – 5 March 1951 (South Africa)

Director: Donald Swanson

Writers: James H. Brown (story), C.M. Pennington-Richards,

Stars: Tommy Ramokgopa, Harriet Qubeka, Joseph Motuba |

Complete credited cast:

The Thief-Tommy Ramokgopa

Mrs. Shakabona -Harriet Qubeka 

Nicholas, store clerk -Joseph Motuba 

Lucas Ranku -David Mnkwanazi  

John, Lili’s beau-Victor Cwai

Lili Shabulala -Dolly Rathebe

Mr. Shabulala -Grinsell Nogauza

Isaac Wela -Lucas Khosa

Mrs. Wela-Linda Madikisa

Priest -Jonathan Mzamo

Mr. Letuli, the troubled parishioner -George Mabuza

A Constable -Cornelius Moghare

A Constable -Samuel Alcock …

Pennywhistle Player -Willard Cele

Mrs. Shakabona’s Neighbor -Stanley Khali


Country: South Africa

Language: English

Release Date: 5 March 1951 -South Africa

Filming Locations: Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

Production Co: Swan Film Productions Ltd.

Technical Specs

Runtime: 63 min

Sound Mix: Mono

Color: Black and White

Made In South Africa (By Gallo Africa LTD)

Willard Cele -Penny Whistle Blues Gallotone gecomp

see also 

something new from Africa -Kwela with Lemmy

Penny Whistle Kwela -Alexandra Shamber Boys, Benoni Flute Quintet


This post contains text from I’m Learning To Share!

Thanks to johnsonlj2003 from East Sussex

the Bleached Zulu part 5

the bleached zulu logo def

By the dawn of the 1960′s the impact of Zulu music and their culture had reached a worldwide audience through movies and popular records that incorporated some of the essential African elements without giving credits to the originals. Think of ‘Wimoweh/The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ and the picture becomes clear.

The banner ‘Zulu’ was merely added for commercial purposes and served the entertainment industry like a watered down, bleached version of a Zulu original.

In the 1980’s, along with the renewed interest of mixing African elements into punk music by groups like the American Talking Heads or the English Monochrome Set, burundi beat became popular when Adam & The Ants, Bow Wow Wow and Malcolm McLaren’s ‘Duck Rock’ ruled the hit parades. World music, especially from Africa, was hip at the time and could be  heard in clubs, on the radio and in temples of alternative rock, like Paradiso in Amsterdam or The Mud Club in New York.

European and American alternative indie rock  filtered through on cassette or was released locally in South Africa. A homegrown scene popped up like mushrooms but few broke into the overseas market.

zulu-logo bewerkt 14-12-12 gecomprimeerd

Now here is a collection of records, with a Zulu-theme, two of them produced and recorded in  South Africa in 1983. The album ‘Concertina Doedies’ by Corrie Nortje is probably from the end of the 70’s. It features a few traditional kwela songs played on ‘boere’ guitar and the concertina, an instrument that came originally from England but was popularized  since early 1900 throughout the whole nation. Popular music that is galaxies away from the real thing,  but these recordings capture the spirit of the African continent to mutate into a new hybrid.

eVoid detail

eVoid cover

eVoid label

éVoid -Junk Jive -1983

éVoid -Inda-Inda-Indaba  -1983

via afrika cover

via afrika label

Via Afrika -Via Afrika  -1983

corrie nortje cover

Corrie Nortje -Concertina Doedies label 1

Corrie Nortje -Kwela Meisie -end of 70’s ?

see also the Bleached Zulu Pt 4 -Savage Sounds from South Africa

the Bleached Zulu Pt 3 -The Shangaans -frontiers of Afrocentric Rock

The Bleached Zulu pt 2 -OST “Tokoloshe” Sam Sklair

the Bleached Zulu

zulu-logo bewerkt 14-12-12 gecomprimeerd

Hip To The Jive – Summer 2012 Mix


Hip To The Jive – Summer 2012 Mix 


1. Kid JoJo -Peanut Bump

2. Boyoyo Boys -Daveyton Special

3. Osiyazi -Sibaya Reception

4. Pikinini Khumbuza -Jackpot

5. EliasMethebula & The Chivani Sisters -NtelaATingangeni

6. Majozi -Ngimbonile Ubaba

7. Umakhathakhathanamachunu -Ezweni I Ikshaka

8. Majakathatha -Ke Saea Maseru

9. Izazi -Bayesutha

10. Dilika -Ngaylshela Yavuma

11. Manka Le Phallang -Khutsana

12. Mzikay Ifani Buthelezi -Themba

13. Amalokohloko -Aslangenlani

Dolly Rathebe -Drum cover July 1955

readers post;Tebogo Lerole on Elias and His Zig Zag Jive Flutes

some interesting news out of Soul Safari’s mailbox that came as a comment on my previous post Penny Whistle Kwela -Alexandra Shamber Boys, Benoni Flute Quintet. Comments from readers are always welcome….keep sending yours!

On Apr 7 2012, 8:19 am reader Tebogo Lerole wrote:

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.

elijah -tom hark 78

Now, ain’t this a very special message? It moved me because of the historical link and  the fact that Elias Shamber Lerole has a son who keeps the legacy of his father alive by playing kwela with his band Kwela Tebza. If only I could hear Tebogo’s music!

Little Lemmy & Big Joe -Kwela No 5 

Here’s an rare kwela track that I’d like to share today as a tribute to the great Elias Shamber Lerole, founder of Elias and His Zig Zag Jive Flutes and as a kudo to Tebogo for his comment on my post.

See also something new from Africa -Kwela with Lemmy

Soul Safari presents Township Jive & Kwela Jazz (1940-1960)

It’s official folks! Our first compilation in collaboration with ILAM is now being prepared for release. Soul Safari presents Township Jive & Kwela Jazz (1940-1960) celebrates the 3rd year of Soul Safari so far. Imagine 135 posts and still counting…

All titles on this compilation have been handpicked from the ILAM Archives (the International Library of African Music), in Grahamstown, South Africa. The tracklisting represents a wide variety of styles from the golden era of Jive & Kwela, originally released on 78 shellac discs from small independent record companies .  The compilation features rarities by the big names obviously but presents  mostly obscure material from a long lost past. Recorded from the original 78 rpm’s and professionally restored/mastered with artwork to match.

A limited edition of the album in CD format and deluxe 180 gram vinyl pressing is  confirmed for October 2011,  exclusively distributed by Rush Hour.

SA Kwela Jazz -The Kwela Kids Plus One -Joshua Sithole

over the weekend I dug into the finds of my latest SA trip last March. Still a few boxes of records to unpack, an activity that always brings a lot of joy and new insights in South African music history.

Like this single by The Kwela Kids Plus One featured here today, released in September 1969. I had expected the standard Kwela jive fare but was totally surprised by the sophisticated jazz beats.  The guitar of Joshua Sithole binds the rhytmic structures nicely together and adds an unique touch of jazz excellence. While the flute on ‘Duke In Soul’ is paying homage to the horn section of the Duke Ellington Orchestra indeed…

The Kwela Kids Plus One -Our Strange Ways

Writer of these songs  is Joshua Sithole,  his music taking inspiration from the kwela and mbaqanga styles.

As a self-taught lead guitarist Joshua began busking with the Kwela Kids in 1959 in Cape Town and later with Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse in his group The Beaters in Johannesburg. Note also the misspelling of his name as Joshua Sitole on earlier recordings.

The Kwela Kids Plus One -Duke In Soul

In 1978 he went solo and played in venues around the country, thrilling audiences with his distinctive style. During the eighties he became known to Durban audiences through his various residencies at places like the Lonsdale and Westville Hotels.

Sithole was born in Rylands, but his family moved to Gugulethu during the era of forced removals. He was committed to his family and to passing on his skills to others. Josh Sithole, one of Cape Town’s best-loved musicians and a favourite of many South African music-lovers, died on Sunday 20 June 1999.

excerpts from an article from the AFRICAN INVASION OF ROCK website

see also Joshua Sithole: Joshua Sithole’s Africa 

Zulu Motor Trophies 2011 -Carnival Coon Minstrels

Following on from another previous post this week, Zulu Motor in which I described discovering a box on the shelves of a dusty old bookstore in the hinterlands of the Karoo, the moment has come to unveil  its content. A  box  filled with 78 shellac discs  and a few 10” albums that must have belonged to a passionate collector. The  box had been mailed and delivered  in 1959 to a  lover of music who lived in George.

Words fail me to express the joy of finding this. !

An amazing selection of discs, ranging from the usual Italian tenor favourites by the likes of Beniamino Gigli and Joseph Schmidt, and as I flipped through the content some long of out-of-print pristine kwela jazz and black African 78’s turned up. Rare recordings that link the historical connection from the earliest South African choir singing to modern groups like Ladysmith Black Mambazo and minstrelsy coon sounds that were the prime inspirational source for jazz musicians like Abdullah Ibrahim’s Dollar Brand.

Caluza’s Double Quartet, Solomon Linda’s Original Evening Birds, Michael’s Nightingales, a few hits by the Manhattan Brothers, Spokes Mashiyane …even a bundle of novelty picture discs! Never have seen those African pic discs before but more on that matter later .

The recording of the original 78 has not been processed (take out hiss etc. ) so natural dynamics have been preserved.

Coon Carnival Minstrels -Die Rietjie-More, More Tannie

Coon Carnival Minstrels -Hanover Street Melody

More on Carnival Coon and minstrelsy music in following posts.

Zulu Motor

Good day to all. Your reporter is still crossing the southern part of Africa on a safari, hunting for vinyl. My guide and driver Joseph Klaas has proven his weight in gold sofar as he took me  along the Karoo hinterlands to a wonderful dusty old bookstore where the grumpy owner sold us a box of long, long forgotten 78’s. To my surprise these shellac discs were still packed in the same box as they were sent in 1959!

The content of this box will be made public here on Soul Safari soon!!