Monday 2 May 2016

African Music Show #2: West & Central Africa (1984)

Here we go with Tony Hunter's second African Music Show broadcast on 3RRR radio in May 1984, with a two-hour sampler of Zairean (Congo Kinshasa), Ghanaian,  Nigerian and other classics from the 1980s and earlier. In addition to talking about the country's and their music scenes, Tony mixes it up, dropping in  James Brown to then mix into Fela Kuti, You will also encounter Franco, King Sunny Ade, Eric Ageyman, Prince Nico Mbarga, Manu Dibango, Benny More, and Tabu Ley.

You can read here  how Tony Hunter landed up teaching, travelling and collecting records in Africa in the first part of the 1980s. 

Tony picks up his story :
click here to go to radio station
There wasn't much Congolese or West African music in Zimbabwe when I lived there and I wasn't very familiar with the genres before arriving. But I did pick up a copy of a Franco album with a song that absolutely captivated me - Princess Kiku. The slow build up of the vocals ,the brass , the glorious seben.  I was hooked and from then on Kinshasa was on the list. 2 other album were Fela live with featuring ginger Baker on drums and the classic Black President.

So when my friend Jan and I finished our teaching contracts we travelled overland via trains busses and ferries intended to take in as much music as we could. Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi ( not much music in those 2 places pre the genocide, very sombre) then onto Mobutu's Zaire. We stayed at an acquaintance's apartment and took in the chaos of Kinshasa. Of course, music abounds but there were 2 highlights. Strolling downtown past the Town Hall I saw a concert was advertised and all these well-heeled families since kids were pouring in. So in I went ,and it was Mpongo Love who was good but the highlight was some youngsters, sapeurs...spats and everything. They were hot ,faster and straight into the seben, in other words soukous. They had  a charismatic young singer who I thought may have been Papa Wemba but so many years later, I am not sure who they were - but they were bloody good.

Congolese sapeur
Objective #1 was Une Deux Trois club to see Franco. Glamorous people alighted from Mercedes and BMWs as the evening went on but alas , we were advised that Franco was in Belgium with his other band. Quelle domage! But all was not lost, his Kinshasa-based band led by Josky Kiambakuta was on and these 18 or so musicians were superb. I'm not exaggerating to say the music never stopped all night. Musicians would just take a rest and others would step up. After dancing til 4 am under blue neon lights  in a palm-lined we left with the music still going.

Cameroon was a hard place to find music so we headed to Nigeria via northern Cameroon -an area these days inhabited by Boko Haram. Catching a lift into Maidiguri , the vehicle travelling at very high speed on a freeway lined with wrecks and Fela blaring out. I believe that you best appreciate a style of music when you hear it in its native environment and Afro Beat sure is Nigerian. Similarly sitting under a tree in sipping a coke with a caravan of camels crossing a bridge across the Niger is a pretty good time to first here a kora being played live. 

We had Ghana  and Senegal earmarked too but after trekking through Chad and Upper Volta  I ran out of puff in Cote D'Ivoire literally due to bronchitis so we flew to the Canary Islands and Morocco for some R and R.

I still look at Ghana and Senegal on the  map and think you aren't crossed off yet.

Mediafire download:
Tape 1 here
Tape 2 here

1 comment:

  1. What a story !
    Thank you for sharing those memories and so beautiful music.


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