Monday 9 January 2012

I'd Like to Spend Some Time in Mozambique

"Some songs get stuck in the head, while others are stuck in the blood. Mozambique Music Awards. It's our music. It's our culture." (From the 2011 Mozambique Music Awards ad campaign)

Music with a Mozambican connection has featured twice at electricjive - Chris posted the historic 1955 Gallotone LP with a range of Mozambican fado recordings and Siemon posted a Banda Six album by Mozambican Mofene David Sitoe. So we're spending some time in Mozambique to re-address the balance. But first a little context before the three albums we're sharing today.

Radio Clube de Mocambique in 1967

The first radio broadcast in Mozambique was made on 18 March 1933 by a private club of Portugese settlers based in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo). Called Radio Clube de Mocambique the broadcasts went out to an estimated 1400 receivers and in the following years two further private radio stations started in Beira, the country's second largest city after Maputo. In the late 1950s the station underwent a major format change to cater for the younger generation who were not being catered for in South Africa by the state owned SABC. LM Radio as it was popularly known, was world renowned for its Top Twenty chart show and played a major role in promoting South African Artists and their music. LM Radio was taken over by the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) in 1972 and following Mozambican independence in 1974 (the station was occupied by Frelimo) the station was replaced by Radio 5 (now 5FM).

As teenagers during the late sixties and early seventies my sisters would tune in to LM Radio on Sunday nights between 8.30 and 9.30 pm to listen to the LM Top Twenty. In the sixties the South African economy - part supported by Mozambican labour on the mines - had grown strongly and affluent, mostly white, South Africans were drawn to the gambling mecca of Lourenço Marques (now Maputo). The hotel circuit in LM supported a range of musicians and bands catering for the tastes of this wealthy clientele. A similar "scene" existed in Johannesburg in the early sixties (see some of Eddy de Clerq's posts at Soul Safari) but was under pressure from teenagers seeking alternatives to what their parents were listening to. For a small taste of some alternative sounds check out the Cazumbi or Zulu Stomp bootlegs which give a small insight into some mostly white rock and roll sounds issued on 45 during this period.

But the challenges of maintaining a colonial war against the freedom movements were stacking up. In 1974 a group of low-ranking army officers rose to overthrow the Portugese government. The military-led coup (the so-called Carnation Revolution) returned democracy to Portugal and ended the unpopular Colonial War where thousands of Portugese soldiers had been conscripted into military service in the colonies of Angola, Mozambique and Guinnea Bissau.

The name "Carnation Revolution" comes from the fact no shots were fired and when the population started descending the streets to celebrate the end of the war in the colonies carnation flowers were put on the guns' ends and on the uniforms.

This led to Mozambique gaining its independence from Portugal on 25 June 1975, after more than ten years of a liberation war conducted by the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo). After independence LM Radio and the other two private stations were nationalised to form the state-controlled Radio Mozambique. This did not change until after the South African-backed civil-war ended in 1992 when broadcasting was de-regulated.

The bar at the famous Hotel Polana

Beyond the hotels with their exclusive clientele what was happening downtown, or across the tracks on the other side of town? The answer is Marrabenta, a form of Mozambican dance music that emerged in the 1950s in the urban areas of Maputo. The name was derived from the Portuguese rebentar (arrabentar in the local vernacular), meaning to break (the guitar strings). Influenced by Mozambican and Portugese folk music and also Western pop, the earliest marrabenta artists include Fany Pfumo, Dilon Djindji and Wazimbo.

Fany Pfumo in full effect

Dilon discovered his love of music at a very early age, and in 1939 built himself a three-string guitar made from an oil can. Three years later this home made effort was replaced with a six-stringed version and he began performing at parties and ceremonies with his uncle, Antonio Chikonela Jinge, and friend, Xavier Santos Pfumo. When he completed his studies in 1947, he became a pastor, and went to work on the island of Mariana, where he continued to play music as well. Besides playing such popular styles as zukuta and magica with musicians like Constancio Machiano and Ernesto and Armando Magaia, Dilon began experimenting with marrabenta music.

Dilon Djindji in perfromance at age 79

In 1960 Dilon founded his first band, Estrela De Marracuene (Star Of Marracuene). Other firsts were to come: four years later he made his radio debut, and in 1973 his first single ('Xiguindlana') was released by Producoes 1001, where he was working as a production coordinator. Thanks to his energy and enthusiasm for the music, as well as the hundreds of performances he notched up around the country, Dilon made the music famous. Fany Pfumo and Wazimbo were similarly active in various Maputo bands in the 1960s.

After Independence Wazimbo worked with the big band of Radio Mozambique which went on to become Orchestra Marrabenta Star De Mocambique. They were also one of the first bands to release an LP with a European "World Music" label (Germany's Piranha) and were noted for their funky style of marrabenta with electric guitars, powerful horn lines and soulful vocals. On the "World Music" wave came other Mozambican bands like Eyuphuro, Ghorwane and compilations on Globestyle (the two volume "Mozambique 1" and "Mozambique 2" are still in print on CD and well worth checking out.

And so today electricjive is proud to present some forgotten recordings of Mozambique. The first is a compilation from 1980 - simply entitled Varios 1, on the local Ngoma label featuring a range of artists. The second is mid eighties album from key Marrabenta star Fany Pfumo. Book-ending the eighties is a compilation of singles from Maputo that first featured at my matsuli site. This includes a fantastic lead track from Fumo again.

Enjoy your visit and time with us in Mozambique today.

Various Vol 1 Rapidshare / Mediafire

Fany Pfumo - O Rei Rapidshare / Mediafire

Various - Mozambique 45s Rapidshare / Mediafire

And finally to close Sam Mangwana's classic Mozambique Oye praising the Mozambican struggle for independence from Portugal. A Luta Continua!

Information sources: Calabash, World Music Network and National Geographic.


  1. Glad to join you in Mozambique Matt - thanks for the treat

  2. A very enjoyable visit to Mozambique Matt. Don't let it be a one-off.

  3. Thanks, Matt, for this wonderful, bountiful insight.

  4. excellent Matt!
    glad you are around and in Moçambique in particular-many thanks.

  5. Great post, Matt!
    Thanks for all the LM background.
    Can't wait to dive into these.

    Some great historical references at this blog including these pix of a garage rock band...

  7. And for more historical recordings check out these CD releases from SWP:
    The second of these showcases some of the roots of marrabenta

  8. Matt, wonderful post.

    Well researched and linked to the right source... it's great to see your interest in music for restaurants, hotels and nightclubs.

    Soul Safari loves this music as much as you do:)

    continue to inspire

  9. If there is the demand for it, I do have a fair few more of Joao Tudella's recordings available - nightclub and studio

  10. Any re-up chance? Working through your top 10

  11. can you please re up load pleaseeee!!!


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