Amagugu -Ingabe Likuphi Iphutha-Zulu Vocal

Amagugu -Ingabe Likuphi Tphutha

Amagugu -Ho’ He Cnasho Mina

Amagugu is an obscure band from Kwazulu Natal. The album ‘Ingabe Likuphi Iphutha’, a Chocolate City release of 1981,  is interesting for the choral singing and instrumentation. Mainly songs with a boogie beat, spiritual as well, but always with a beat one can easily dance to.

“Amagugu” means treasure  in Zulu and that is all the information I could find on this band. Not to be confused with the traditional Zulu group  Amagugu Akwazulu. Mystery record of the week!

another gallery of South African music on 78

Umtale Chipisa Band -Zuwa Rachona

Alfred Mchunu -Amadumbe 1965

Freddy Gumbi -Jika Jika Jive -1967 Sax Jive

Spokes Mashiyane -Banana Ba Rustenburg

The Lower Buttons – Intogeymy 1967

The Makala Singers -Championi

Three Petersen Brothers -Sugar Candy Cane

thanks to ILAM, Grahamstown SA

a gallery of South African music on 78 rpm

dream on…none of the following 78 rpm records will be traced easily in the wild but patience awards those who can wait for the bait. I like to start the year 2010 with some eye candy, a gallery of 78’s pressed in South Africa.

Elias & His Zig Zag Flutes -Tom Hark

Elias & His Zig Zag Flutes -Rij Rij

African releases of local talent were marketed for a small group of afficionados,  those who could afford a  grammophone player or more commonly for the black population, via township radio distribution.  During the fifties and sixties many small locally distributed labels flourished, a few were actually owned by black entrepreneurs. Many of these releases were pressed and controlled by the  Gallo Record Company.  Interesting fact is that ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracey was instrumental in choosing the material for those releases. Tracey set up the first arena for the public display of mine dancing,  at the Consolidated Main Reef Mine in Johannesburg in 1943. He later paid tribute to the culture of mine dancing in his book ‘African Dances of the Witwatersrand Gold Mines’,  published by African Music Society in  October 1952

Mambuaulela Makhubela & his Shangaan Drum Dancers -Park Station

Nyasaland Nyo Tribe -Ndano

The Globetrotters -Vuyisile

Patla Pett & his Five boys -Polokwane Nr 4

Morning Lights Choir -Uxazazela -1962 Zulu Vocal acapella

Kid Zondi  -Saley’s Cycle Blues -1967 Sax Jive

with thanks to ILAM Grahamstown, South Africa

hip to the jive

I can’t think of a better way to end  the year 2009 than with a groovy mix for the holiday season. One song chosen for each month of the year with just one more for good luck…13 songs in one mix of 35 minutes. Time to celebrate!

2009 has been a great year for Soul Safari, and I’m very happy to have met, conversed and shared music with so many kindred spirits from all over the world who are hip to the jive…

for the mix I selected several  musical styles from many different ethnic groups from around South Africa; Zulu, Shangaan,  Sotho, mbaqanga, some kwela….and I wanted the mood of the compilation to be happy, vibrant, energetic, just a great danceable jive to fit the festive days ahead.

1. Kid JoJo -Peanut Bump

2. Boyoyo Boys -Daveyton Special

3. Osiyazi -Sibaya Reception

4. Pikinini Khumbuza -Jackpot

5. Elias Mathebula & The Chivani Sisters -Ntlela A Tingangeni

6. Majozi -Ngimbonile Ubaba

7. Umakhathakhathananmachunu -Ezweni Likshaka

8. Majakathatha -Ke Saea Maseru

9. Izazi –Bayesutha

10.Dilika -Ngayishela Yavuma

11. Manka Le Phallang -Khutsana

12. Mzikayifani Buthelezi -Themba

13. Amahlokohloko -Asisangenelani

download ‘hip to the jive’ here

Happy Holidays & best wishes for 2010 from Soul Safari!

the Bleached Zulu

By the dawn of the 1960’s the impact of Zulu music and their culture had reached a worldwide audience, with the release of movies like ‘Zulu’ 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. Now here is a collection of records, all with a Zulu-theme, released in the 60’s and mostly produced in South Africa. Music that is galaxies away from the real thing but still worthwile in its own right.

the soundtrack from the epic 1964 movie ‘Zulu’ by John Barry, directed by Cy Endfield and starring Michael Caine, Stanley Baker and Jack Hawkins.

John Barry Zulu OST -Stamp & Shake

John Barry Zulu OST -The Monkey Feathers

A selection of Zulu Stamps are found on the B-Side of the soundtrack LP. These Zulu Stamps stem from an idea by actor Stanley Baker and are actually pop-reworkings of some of the main themes that Baker and director Cy Endfield thought would be a good commercial move to release.

If you are drawn to this disc with hopes of hearing any of the Zulu warriors singing as they gather for battle you will not find any such tracks here.  The Zulu Stamps are amusing though and entertaining. Later to be  released as part of The John Barry Seven catalog.

in 1964  the Zulu Stamps were re-created  by The Monkey Feathers, a Jo’Burg studio group that launched a new dance craze ‘The Zulu Stamp’. The titles on this EP are a  bit more rough than the Barry OST originals although they stay close to those arrangements , adding a touch of Shadows, stomping with additional Zulu vocals.

The Monkey Feathers -Big Shield

The Monkey Feathers -Zulu Maid

The Shangaans -Liwa Wechi

‘Liwa Wechi’ is the missing link between African tribe music and the Western world. Sounds like The Yardbirds with Shaka Zulu as lead singer.

The Petersen Brothers belong to one of the oldest theatrical families in South Africa, and are really brothers. The Three Petersen Brothers are versatile and polished artists, and have appeared on stage, in variety and as cabaret artists in every major town in South Africa, in addition to regular radio programmes. With the presentation of ‘On Safari’, their first LP recording, The Three Petersen Brothers invite the listener to go on a musical Safari through Africa. Through the hills and valleys of Zululand one can hear a song like ‘Fanagalo’, originally a hit for The Woody Woodpeckers or dance to ‘The Joh’burg Samba’ before packing bags to journey into a lovely valley in ‘Pondoland’.

The Petersen Brothers -Fanagalo

The Petersen Brothers -Joh’burg Samba

The Petersen Brothers -Pondoland

Joseph Marais, who had a popular radio show ‘African Trek’  reviews some of the folk songs of South Africa and drastically re-writes the original lyrics of  ‘The Zulu Warrior’, a tradional Zulu war cry. This war cry was first adopted by South African Forces during Word War 2 and the conviviality that usually accompanied its singing in various canteens throughout the world, popularized it with American G.I.’s. Many US veterans will testify to the fact that ‘I-Zig-A-Zimba…hold ’em down you Zulu Warrior’ climaxed many a boisterous evening spent in the company of their South African comrades-in-arms.

Joseph Marais & Miranda -The Zulu Warrior

Now hear the same song in the version by Sam Sklair, South African composer and conductor who scored many film, radio and television documentaries. In addition to arranging and conducting this happy blend of Africa and the West, Sam himself plays all the African instruments on these tunes. See also my previous post on ‘Gumboot dances’ by Sam Sklair.

Sam Sklair -The Zulu Warrior

brothers on the slide -Steve Kekana -Township Soul & Boogie pt 2

I can not write about  South African artists and their music without mentioning the politics that defined the era in which these artists lived and produced their music. South African pop music between 1970-1990 appeared in conflict with the white ruling class, especially with the Apartheid system that limited black artists in many ways.  Earlier in the 1950’s many artists had left the country and were  living in exile; Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Dorothy Masuka a.o. because of their  performances,  tainted by strong political views.

A South African beach during the apartheid era. E. Andrews—Impact Photos/Heritage-Images

By the mid-1980’s as the struggle against Apartheid intensified, censorship had been stepped up even from the severe restrictions of the 1970’s and woven more tightly into the structures of the police state. A national state of emergency was declared in 1985. In the same year, a Zulu cultural organization, the Inkatha Freedom Party began to take on a far more active role as a political party. Inkatha had been formed as a royalist cultural group in 1920 and revived in 1974 to shore up the credentials of the Kwazulu homeland. Its leader, former ANC Youth League member Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, had broken with both the black consciousness movement and the ANC by 1980. Initially most influential in its home province, the decade saw Inkatha becoming more active in the workers’ hostels of Vaal, harassing Zulu-speaking workers  who held anti-apartheid views and launching attacks on township political gatherings. The messages of Zulu music began to be redefined, through Intaka patronage, so that ‘authenticity’ ruled out anti-apartheid sentiments. Musicians involved in the struggle, received death threats and beatings.

At the same time, the government offered lavish payments to musicians to join the “Info Song” recording project; a pop song extolling the virtues of the status quo. A Mbaqanga singer like blind Steve Kekana took the money only to receive  death threats, many township residents boycotted his concerts and records from that moment on. But times do change…

Steve Kekana

Steve Kekana’s voice is wonderful, the way the words become rhythmic while the melody keeps the groove going. I love the soothing effect of Kekana’s voice and above all, the way he sets a sensible mood to carry his words. Not an American Soul-shouter like James Brown but more in the tradition of Al Green or Marvin Gaye.
He was born in 1958 in Zebediela in South Africa’s Limpopo Province,
he lost his sight at age five, and attended a school for the blind in   Pietersburg. During his school years, he nurtured his love for  singing, and was a   member of amateur groups whilst a teenager.

Steve Kekana -Mama Katuli 1981

In 1979 and 1980, Kekana won what was then known as the “SABC Black Music Award” for Best Male Vocalist. Further awards followed, with the singer taking the “Top Male Vocalist” award on Radio Zulu, and being the runner-up on the Tswana and Sotho Radio Stations.

Steve Kekana -Mamacane 1982

Steve Kekana -Ntombifuthi 1981

Since 2001, he has frequently collaborated with different vocalists like Nana Coyote, and  Joe Nina, who produced his most recent album “African Lady”. With over twenty albums to his credit, singer/songwriter Steve Kekana has been a consistent force in the South African music scene since the early 1980’s


article contains excerpts from ‘Soweto Blues’ by Glen Ansell (Continuum 2004)

South African Soul Divas pt 2 Dorothy Masuka, Mahotella Queens, Irene & The Sweet Melodians

dorothy 1

Dorothy Masuka was one of the most famous township singers in 1950’s South Africa and a pin-up to boot.

She was best friend’s with Miriam Makeba and wrote some of the biggest hits of that decade. But then she dared to write a political song about the then Prime Minister Dr Malan and was exiled for over 30 years.
After many years working as a flight attendant for Zambian Airways, she returned to South Africa and to music at the beginning of the 1990’s.

Dorothy Masuka -Ufikizolo

Dorothy Masuka – South Africa´s Grand Lady

Equally at home in South Africa and Zimbabwe, Dorothy Masuka is not only one of the most important singers of the generation of Miriam Makeba, but has for decades also been a talented songwriter whose pen, for example, produced Makeba´s hit “Pata Pata”.Dorothy Masuka was born in what was back then South Rhodesian Bulawago in 1935 and lives in Yeoville/ Johannesburg today.

Together with Dolly Rathebe and Miriam Makeba, Dorothy Masuka is the third great singer to appear in the milieu of South Africa´s black music scene in the late forties and the fifties, an era seen today as the golden age of Township Jazz. She was born in what is today Zimbabwe, and her parents came from South Africa and Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). At the age of ten she went to a Catholic mission school in Johannesburg. She soon became the leader of the school choir. In a small Chinese shop next to the boarding school there was a juke box through which Dorothy Masuka discovered North American Swing music and singers like Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan.

Dorothy Masuka was herself discovered as a sixteen year-old by the record company Troubadour, and a short time later went on a tour throughout South Africa with the famous band African Inkspots and began to write her own songs, among them hits like “Pata Pata”. It was not only the concert organisers who were clamouring for her but also the photographers. She was photographed countless times for the legendary magazine Drum, for example.

dorothy 2

It was in 1957 that she first came into conflict with the regime, because of a song about the apartheid minister Malan, and the record had to be withdrawn from the market. In 1961, after the censors had banned her song ”Lumumba”, about the recently murdered Congolese politician, and confiscated all the records including the master tape, Dorothy Masuka returned to Bulawayo, for she had been declared persona non grata in South Africa, something which was not to be reversed until 31 years later. Four years later she also fell out with the Southern Rhodesian authorities and was only able to avoid arrest by fleeing to Zambia, by then independent. She spent the following sixteen years in exile, there as well as in Malawi, Uganda and Tanzania lost her husband and two sons, who belonged to the militant wing of the ANC, and was only able to return to Bulawayo after the independence of Zimbabwe, where she continued her temporarily interrupted musical career. Eleven years later, in 1992, she was also finally able to return to South Africa, where she lives and works today. For, as she says it: “To stay alive I have to sing.”

Almost all the successful South African singers from Miriam Makeba to Letta Mbulu are deeply indebted to Dorothy Masuka´s art, have learned from her, worked with her and been influenced by her. Hugh Masekela, who has many Dorothy Masuka songs in his repertoire, says of her: “Her talent and her courage have always impressed me. For me she is one of the best artists of our generation!”

Author: Wolfgang König

The Mahotella Queens

mahotella queens 2 copy

Legendary South African song and dance crew Mahotella Queens have been purveyors of lush vocal harmonies and unique bouncy dance steps for more than four decades. They are some of the most notable exemplars of mbaqanga, a style emerging from Johannesburg suburbs like Sophiatown which fused rural Zulu vocal music with Afro-American pop (initially big band swing) later, incorporating gospel, r&b, and other styles as it further defined itself and rose to prominence in the 1960s.

Mahotella Queens -Mama Thula

Other groups like Irene & The Sweet Melodians  are simply formed from former members of the Mahotella collective

irene & the sweet melodians label -good luck

Irene and The Sweet Melodians -Nginifisela Inhlanhla (good luck)

irene & the sweet melodians label -Uthlmangithini

Irene and The Sweet Melodians -Uthi Mangithini

irene and the sweet melodians -nqgoqo

Irene and The Sweet Melodians -Nqonqo

irene & the sweet melodians label

Irene & the Sweet melodians -awulilela

YEBO! on my iPod

the original songs in their full length can be heard in previous posts.  Zulu Jive, Marabi Jive, Xhosa Vocal…soul and jazz grooves with an unique South African flavour  were selected and highlighted  in the YEBO! series. Thank you for all your feedback.

Reader NickAll I can say is… wow. I love the soul and jazz-infused Makgona Tsohle Band 45rpm, it is one I had never come across previously. Thank you for sharing these musical treasures, they are all sublime and are all very much appreciated.”

all 20 selections of YEBO! in a 33 minute Mix

1- Isazi – Ingabonga Isudu
2- Lazarus Kgagudi And The Neighbours – Mlamu Wami
3- Irene & The Sweet Melodians – Nawulilela
4- Retsi & The Jacaranda Girls – Mongezi
5- Olive Masinga – Indlela Enhle
6- Izintombi Zesi Manje Maje – Lobola Mgca
7- Retsi Pule – s’Dula
8- Korrie Moraba – Ngixulaelawena
9- Indoba Band – Keep On Jiving (Pt 1)
10- Sophie Thapedi – Mabitso Abatho
11- Retsi & The Jacaranda Girls – Manikiniki
12- Lazarus Kgagudi And The Neighbours – Amadoda Asemgodini
13- Makgona Tsohle Band – Take Your Time
14- Patience Africa – Sala Sithanda
15- Kabasa – Burning Splinters
16- Dark City Sisters – Kudelangibuya Khona
17- Vusi Nkosi With Mabone Boys – Amazambane
18- Zacks Nkosi – Kwasibasa
19- The Alexander Shamber Boys – Finish
20- Vusi Nkosi With Mabone Boys – Superman Jive

Download the mix here: YEBO! on my iPod

YEBO! Zulu Vocal & Jive, Marabi Jive pt 3

…thank you all for the support and for listening to the music on these pages.

This week  starts with another slice of Zulu Jive and Marabi Jive  as featured in the YEBO! series…part 3

there’s little information on the artists so I hope that the labels and mp3’s  of these rare 45’s bring some joy….

Olive Masinga -indlela enhle

Izintombi Zesi Manje Maje -lobola mgca

Indoba Band -keep on jiving (part 1)

Retsi & The Jacaranda Girls -manikiniki

Makgona Tsohle Band -Marabi blues

YEBO! Sotho Vocal, Zulu Jive pt 2


Izazi -Ingabonga Isudu

Lazarus Kgagudi, “The Silver Fox”, was not born blind. His fate was the result of a bicycle accident at an early age. He was born in Mohlaletse. Lazarus received his education at Siloe School for the Blind. That is where he first met Steve Kekana. Some of the individuals who played part in the shaping of his music career were producers Roxy ‘Black Cat’ Buthelezi, Banzi Kubheka, Phiri Morale and his executive producer, Emil Zoghby. His backing bands were mainly Black Cat Trio, The Neighbours and Step Ahead.
Disease cut short the life of this down-to-earth royal star. On 31 March 2007, Lazarus was posthumously honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at a festival dubbed Golden Oldies Music Festival in Polokwane.

lazarus kgagudi and the neighbours label

Lazarus Kgagudi and the Neighbours -amadoda asemgodini

Lazarus Kgagudi, “The Silver Fox”, was not born blind. His fate was the result of a bicycle accident at an early age. He was born in Mohlaletse. Lazarus received his education at Siloe School for the Blind. That is where he first met Steve Kekana. Some of the individuals who played part in the shaping of his music career were producers Roxy ‘Black Cat’ Buthelezi, Banzi Kubheka, Phiri Morale and his executive producer, Emil Zoghby. His backing bands were mainly Black Cat Trio, The Neighbours and Step Ahead.

Disease cut short the life of this down-to-earth royal star. On 31 March 2007, Lazarus was posthumously honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at a festival dubbed Golden Oldies Music Festival in Polokwane.

excerpt from “Beyond Memory” by  Max Mojapelo (published by African Minds)

steve kekana -uthando ulungana  sikhwele

Steve Kekana -Uthando Ulungana Sikhwele

sophie thapedi  label

Sophie Thapedi -Mabitso Abatho

vusi nkosi with mabone boys label

Vusi Nkosi with Mabone Boys -Superman Jive

yebo cover ontwerp 3