Monday, May 25, 2009

Some More Seldom-Heard Tracks by Remmy Ongala

Like Comb and Razor, I seem to be experiencing some difficulty managing to get a post up, not, as in Uchenna's case, because I'm terribly busy with anything else, but because of a general sense of ennui. Spring fever perhaps?

Anyway, I've got a few things in the works, but I just realized that it's been more than two weeks since I've posted, so here's something in the nature of a stop-gap.

In one of my first dispatches, I posted five tracks from Remmy Ongala's two 1988 albums On Stage With Remmy Ongala (Ahadi AHDLP 6007) and Nalilia Mwana (Womad WOMAD 010). Which leaves seven tunes that I didn't post, so here they are!

"Tembea Ujionee," from Nalilia Mwana, means "Travel and See For Yourself." Remmy sings, "Travel and see for yourself. Don't wait to be told about it. There are many things to see in the world. Waiting for you. . ." By the way, although the liner notes of the LP credit this song to "Remmy Ongala & Orchestra Super Matimila," I suspect it, along with other songs on Nalilia Mwana, was recorded when Ongala was with Orchestra Makassy. That sounds an awful lot like Mose Fan Fan Se Sengo on lead guitar!

Remmy Ongala & Orchestra Super Matimila - Tembea Ujionee

In "Mnyonge Hana Haki" ("The Poor Have No Rights") Remmy deplores the plight of the unfortunate. "I have nothing to say. . . Remmy is a poor man, an ugly man. Remmy has nothing to say to his companions. A bicycle has nothing to say in front of a motorbike. A motorbike has nothing to say in front of a car. A car has nothing to say in front of a train. The poor have nothing to say in front of the rich. . . The poor have no rights."

Remmy Ongala & Orchestra Super Matimila - Mnyonge Hana Haki

The liner notes of Nalilia Mwana state that "Arusi ya Mwanza"
is ". . . about a young woman who is married in Mwanza and goes to live with her husband in Dar es Salaam. After a few days he deserts her and she is too ashamed to return home to face the questions of her parents and neighbors. She warns other women that men are deceitful and will promise a house and car to make girls give up their studies. She herself only wanted to be happy and start a family like her friends. . ."

Remmy Ongala & Orchestra Super Matimila - Arusi ya Mwanza

On Stage With Remmy Ongala unfortunately doesn't provide song translations.

Remmy Ongala & Orchestra Super Matilmila - Sauti ya Mnyonge

Remmy Ongala & Orchestra Super Matimila - Asili ya Muziki

Remmy Ongala & Orchestra Super Matimila - Maisha

Remmy Ongala & Orchestra Super Matimila - Mama Mzazi

If you would like to recreate the original LPs using the other five tunes, the tracklistings are as follows:

Nalilia Mwana (
Womad WOMAD 010, 1988)
1. Nalilia Mwana
2. Sika ya Kufa
3. Tembea Ujionee
4. Ndumila Kuwili
5. Mnyonge Hana Haki
6. Arusi ya Mwanza

On Stage With Remmy Ongala
(Ahadi AHDLP 6007, 1988)
1. Sauti ya Mnyonge
2. Asili ya Muziki
3. Maisha
4. Kifo
5. Mama Mzazi
6. Narudi Nyumbani
The picture at the top of this post is from this site.


icastico said...

It isn't about the frequency of is about the quality of posts. Thanks as always.

nauma said...

I totally agree with the two people above:Likembe is not made in China!!!
Enjoy your ennui,no condition is permanent.

Tyty1794 said...

Funny that you posted this now, i listened to Remmy Ongala all weekend and just posted on youtube yesterday "Asili Ya Muziki"

I'll try to provide rough translations later today .
Awesome post .

matt said...

I heard he is a preacher now

grooVemonzter said...

I love these early Remmy Ongala recordings. I pieced together the two CD's with the songs you posted earlier. Both CD's are treasures and will get plenty of airtime on my car stereo. Thank you a million, Cole

Anonymous said...

He would make for a great preacher,very charismatic.Once saw him live in Zanzibar,playing a set in front of a projection of the film on him ,Bongo Beat.Great.It was also during this show,with him singing Swahili in front of a crowd of mostly locals,that I realised how much one looses out on, by not understanding the lyrics,he had the crowd in stiches all the time.

Anonymous said...

Both LPs are a cut above "Poor Man" (which I love) and "Mambo" (which I like significantly less). Hardly a stop-gap post: these are very much appreciated.


matt said...

If anyone can translate then we may find out what he has been up to recently:

Dirk Lind said...

Great post! I've been a huge Remmy fan for a long time.

Want to ask a question - ran into an old friend who years ago gave me a tape of Band Rain from Zimbabwe. In the years since, the tape has disappeared. Have you heard of them? Know where I might be able to find some?

John B. said...

Dirk: Sorry, I've never heard of them.

Tyty1794 said...

Yes Matt , this post "" just confirms the above , that "he is old , was leader of Super Matimila Band and has become saved and now sings for Jesus "

Anonymous said...

wow, just found your amazing blog and these killer albums by Remmy Ongala. I had "Poor Man" since it was new. i still think it's quite fine, but these.... these 2 are magnificent. Great playing and that amazing voice. thanks.

Anonymous said...

Wow ithink Remmy prophecised how his death would be by sing the siku ya kufa tittle.we all loved him but but most of his fans shunned him when he died i watched cosmas chidumule recite how he knew him sing on a palm tree and cried.He was a teacher, philosopher and a foreseer God rest his soul in eternal peace.Ambundo Mr. E.