The international re-issue of this gem of an album by Earthworks in 1984 was an important first in a series of signals to the local industry that mbaqanga music may have a global future, despite its popular decline in South Africa. In 1986 Paul Simon’s Graceland and Harry Belafonte’s Paradise in Gazankulu drew heavily on South African artists, and further showcased mbaqanga music to the world.
West Nkosi saw the gap and cut a demo with Makhona Tsohle and the Mahotella Queens. The tape caught Gallo executive Geoff Paynter’s ears and he invited them to play at a function at which two French record executives were also present. One thing led to another, and the musicians embarked upon an international touring career, including playing at the Nelson Mandela Birthday Concert in Wembley Stadium in 1988, and then to a crowd of half a million in Central Park in New York in 1991. You can read the full story and more in Louise Meintjies’ wonderful book” “Sound of Africa! Making Music Zulu in a South African Studio”.
|The Earthworks Cover|
EJ visitor Manzo Khulu sent us a mail on the translation issue:
"I picked up a point that I think I could perhaps also comment on. Indeed while ‘iqhude’ is Zulu for ‘rooster’, in this context the word refers to a hill/mountain whose structure is reminiscent of the head of a rooster – hence named Eqhudeni. Some of the musicians may have originated from this general area, e.g. Abafana Baseqhudeni (Boys from Eqhudeni)." (Thanks Manzo).
This album presents a sublime compilation from the halcyon days of Motella’s finest. I am confident you will enjoy it.