(L to r: Jane Dlamini, Joana Thango, Janet Dlamini)
Ethnomusicologist Louise Meintjes undertook a fieldwork of sorts when she listened in on the rehearsals, attended the recording sessions and interviewed at length the members of the all-female mbaqanga group Isigqi Sesimanjemanje in the early 1990s. The relationship between those who were hoping to share their talents and reap the rewards from a potential overseas audience and those who had the power to make or break the act is a formidable one, particularly during that particular time period in South Africa. The other major factor was the presence of white engineers in the production of what was regularly termed "black music", or more coarsely, "black stuff". It is these relationships that Meintjes explored in her 2003 book Sound of Africa!: Making Music Zulu in a South African Studio when recounting Isigqi's preparation for their next album release Lomculo Unzima (This music is heavy).
Izintombi Zesi Manje Manje in 1976
(Clockwise from left: Lindiwe Mthembu, Jane Dlamini, Nobesuthu Shawe, Ruth Mafuxwana)
Louise Meintjes' Sound of Africa! documents the making of Isigqi's 1992 album by placing it within the context of South Africa's political history and the lineage of mbaqanga music itself. The only major flaw with the book is not the text - it is the fact that a copy of Lomculo Unzima was not included with the finished work. Long out of print, this album is presented to you by Electric Jive in the hope of plugging something of a gap that has remained unfilled heretofore. Although the material here does stray quite a bit from EJ's usual focus, we are sharing this recording not only to assist the ongoing internet documentation of all South African musics, but to bring added colour to the words of Meintjes' book - and to bring the voices of Jane Dlamini, Joana Thango and Janet Dlamini... and every musician associated with them... to life.
LOMCULO UNZIMA (Isigqi Sesimanjemanje)
Africa AFRLP 029
1. LOMCULO UNZIMA
2. UKUHLUPHEKA KWAMI
3. SOUTH AFRICA
5. UMSHADO KA THEMBA
6. HAMBA KAHLE
7. UMAKOTI ONJANI
8. SIYAYISHAY' INGOMA
RS / MF