Aziz Abdi Kilambo & Orchestra Benga Africa - Talanta
Three nights a week 20 Kenyan soldiers take a break from the rigorous routine that defines their military life from sunrise to sunset. On these nights they let another side of their personalities take over as they mingle with civilians through music. Hands trained to hold weapons hold guitars, trumpets, drumsticks and microphones. Feet accustomed to marching in formation and jumping in and out of trenches tap lightly, keeping beat to the music.
Voices conditioned to bark out orders in military drills croon words that have entertained generations. And the faces that seldom crack the faintest of smiles soften and become warm. During the two hours on stage there are no ranks, no obligatory salutes. During this rehearsal, united by their common love of music, they are all equal.
We kadogo nakupenda
Nikuone uwe wangu
Na mimi sina mwingine
Nimpendaye kama wewe
Usingizi siupati, Nikifiki ulivyo
Fanya hima tuonane, tuelewane pamoja
Waniacha mi naponda, kwa kufikiri wewe
Moyo wangu wateseka, vile nakupenda you
Kadogo I love you
I want to marry you so you'll be mine
I don't want anyone else
That I love as I love you
I can''t sleep thinking about you
Try we meet so we come to agreement
I yearn for you in my thoughts
My soul suffers for loving you
What better to liven up a slow Thursday morning than another dose of Muziki wa Dansi, courtesy of Tanzania's DDC Milmani Park Orchestra? The usual caveats apply to this Flatim Records/Ahadi cassette of Sitokubali Kuwa Mtumwa (AHD(MC)6024): Red hot music, lo-fi sound. Enjoy!
DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Sitokubali Kuwa Mtumwa
DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Ukali wa Nyuki
DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Safia
DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Naomi
DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Epuka Jambo Lisilokuhusu No. 2
DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra - Naomba Tuaminiane
Download Sitokubali Kuwa Mtumwa as a zipped file here. More Mlimani songs are available as streaming audio here.
Major players in the '70s and '80s music scene in Kenya, Kakai Kilonzo and his band the Kilimambogo Brothers were one of the few benga groups whose popularity crossed tribal lines. It helped that they recorded in Swahili as well as their native Kamba language, but the quality of their musical output no doubt played a major role as well.
Kilonzo's beginnings in life were modest indeed. His daughter Anita Kilonzo writes:
Kilonzo's talents as a musician soon won him renown. He recorded "Kaylo Kyakwa na Mary" in 1974 and with the Kilimambogo Brothers scored many hits like "Baba Mkwe," "August One" and "Mama Sofia." Many of these recordings are collected in two CDs, Best of Kakai Vol. 1 (Shava Musik SHAVACD011-2, 2002) and Best of Kakai Vol. 2 (Shava Musik SHAVACD017, 2006) and an LP that was released in 1987, Simba Africa (Popular African Music PAM 03). As far as I can tell, these compilations are all out of print.
Kakai Kilobzo was born in1954 at Kilimambogo in Machakos district. He attended Primary education at Kilimambogo in 1962 to 1965. He definitely did not finish it because of lack of school fees. Kakai then sought for cheap labour like herding in to help his poor family. These continued for a duration of five years.
In 1970 he was employed in Thika town at farms that dealt with pineapple plantations as a harvester.
While in Thika, Kakai made single stringed guitars which were made of tin, due to his interest in music. He played then during his leisure time in the farms. Through his peanut earnings he managed to by a box guitar. He used to entertain local people at night during his off-time; which is termed as Tumisonge in Kamba.
As a follow-up to the last post, here is another ukumbusho (souvenir) from another great exponent of Muziki wa Dansi, Tanzania's International Orchestra Safari Sound.
IOSS was formed in 1985 when businessman Hugo Kisima dissolved his group the Orchestra Safari Sound, and recruited six members of Mlimani Park Orchestra to form a new orchestra. IOSS & Mlimani were considered the two top rivals for leadership of the Tanzanian music scene for a time but for some reason Kisima dissolved IOSS in the early '90s. Confusingly, at one point Ndala Kasheba briefly revived the "old" Orchestra Safari Sound, and there may have been two factions of the International Orchestra Safari Sound, the IOSS (Ndekule) and IOSS (Duku Duku).
Shukrani kwa Mjomba (Ahadi/Flatim MSCAS 513) is credited to the International Orchestra Safari Sound (Ndekule), and as usual with Ahadi/Flatim releases provides no recording information other than a track-listing. As "Chatu Mkali" on the cassette inexplicably cuts off in the middle of the song, I've used the version from the CD Musiki wa Dansi: Afropop Hits from Tanzania (Africassette AC 9403, 1995), which is still in print and available here. Enjoy!
International Orchestra Safari Sound - Shukrani Kwa Mjomba
International Orchestra Safari Sound - Shida
International Orchestra Safari Sound - Pendo
International Orchestra Safari Sound - Majuto
International Orchestra Safari Sound - Kaka Kinyongoli
International Orchestra Safari Sound - Chatu Mkali
Download Shukrani Kwa Mjomba as a zipped file here. More IOSS here. The batik at the top of this post is taken from this website.
Orchestra Vijana Jazz, one of Tanzania's top dance bands, was founded in 1971 under the sponsorship of Umoja wa Vijana Tanzania, then the Youth League of the ruling Tanzania African National Union (TANU). Over the last couple of decades as the Tanzanian economy has "liberalized" I suspect Vijana has had to make its own way. It quite possibly may not exist anymore. The Orchestra has undergone numerous personnel changes over the years, notably the death of vocalist Hemed Maneti, who wrote some of the band's most memorable tunes like "Mary Maria" and "Tambiko la Pamba Moto."
"Ukumbusho" literally translates as "reminder" but it probably more closely means "souvenir" or "in memoriam." The cassette Ukumbusho: Hayati Hemed Maneti (Ahadi/Flatim MSKCAS 514) was apparently issued to commemorate the life of Vijana's beloved lead singer. As usual for an Ahadi/Flatim production the sound quality is not up to snuff. Musically it's memorable indeed.
Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Jiko Limenuna
Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Najilaumu
Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Nilitaka Iwe Siri
Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Unikubalie
Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Ndoa Ni Kuvumiliana
Orchestra Vijana Jazz - Madaraka Kwenye Bar
Download Ukumbusho as a zipped file here. More Vijana Jazz on Likembe here, and you can find another great cassette by them here.
Ronnie Graham's The World of African Music (Pluto Press/Research Associates, 1992) states that Tanzania's DDC Mlimani Park Orchestra recorded several albums and singles in the early '80s under the name "The Black Warriors." Doug Paterson told me a few years ago, though, that The Black Warriors were actually a subgroup of Mlimani who recorded in Nairobi without permission from bandleader Michael Enoch. For this transgression they were expelled from the group, only to return later.
Whatever the true story, in the early '90s Flatim Records in Nairobi compiled six Black Warriors 45s into a compilation cassette, Tunazikumbuka Vol. 20 (AHD [MC] 038), which I present here. This cassette is compiled from vinyl pressings rather than the original source tapes, and Flatim cassettes are well-known for their dodgy technical standards. The quality of the musical performances shines through nonetheless, and I'm sure you'll enjoy hearing alternate versions of some Mlimani classics.
The Black Warriors - Nawashukuru Wazazi Wangu Pts. 1 & 2
The Black Warriors - Zimbabwe Pts. 1 & 2
The Black Warriors - Bubu Ataka Kusama Pts. 1 & 2
The Black Warriors - Nalala Kwa Tabu Pts. 1 & 2
The Black Warriors - Najuta Pts. 1 & 2
The Black Warriors - Uzuri wa Mtu Sio Sura Pts. 1 & 2
Download Tunazikumbuka Vol. 20 as a zipped file here. The artwork at the top of this post is by Tanzanian artist Mwamedi Chiwaya, and is in a style called Tingatinga. It is taken from this website.
Ugandan singer/guitarist Sammy Kasule is present on many Kenyan recordings made during the 1980s. He was a member of Frantal Tabu's Orchestra Vundumuna, and as part of another group, Africa Jambo Jambo, was recruited to fill in as part of Orchestra Simba Wanyika during their 1989 European tour.
The 1984 solo LP Kasule (CBS (N) 014) was a smash, spawning three hits, "Kukupenda (Kuusudu)," "Ushirikiano" and Kasule's English-language version of Nguashi Ntimbo's "Shauri Yako," which I featured in my last post. Kasule's translation in turn formed the basis for Mbilia Bel's version of the song.
I understand Sammy Kasule is presently living in Stockholm.
Here are the complete contents of Kasule:
Sammy Kasule - Pesa Kuja
Sammy Kasule - Zongolo
Sammy Kasule - Shauri Yako
Sammy Kasule - Kukupenda (Kuusudu)
Sammy Kasule - Ushirikiano
And here are two singles that Kasule recorded around the same time that Kasule came out. "Numevumila" was on the Doromy label (DM 41), while "Niliota Ndoto" was issued on the VGA Editions Scolar label (VGA 008):
Sammy Kasule & Orchestra Samajako International - Numevumila Pts 1 & 2
Sammy Kasule & Ochila Odero - Niliota Ndoto Pts 1 & 2
Note: Tracks from the LP Kasule are no longer available for download. The album may be purchased online here.