Aziz Abdi Kilambo & Orchestra Benga Africa - Talanta
The first four tracks of False Lover are indeed reggae, but the rest of the album is straight-ahead danceband highlife, and very successful. Enjoy!
...I was planning to go to Europe but the Cocoa Marketing Board in Ghana got in touch and wanted me to form a new band. So, I went back to recording and writing music with Ebo [Taylor] and formed the Sweet Beans. The album featuring the band, False Lover, was my first album under my own name and it was very special for me. Reggae was "on" at that time and Jimmy Cliff was the top singer so I was trying reggae in his style on tracks like "Revolution" and "False Lover." I was open to all styles, though, and would always try whatever sounds were coming in. False Lover was a big album in Ghana ...
...Wazirin Ɗanduna, in this ballad, Tsakanin Ɗan’ adam da Kuɗi, portrays his perception of the character of money in modern society. His skilful vignette of the character of money and analysis of how it transforms social relationships was similar to Simmel’s philosophy of money. He, like Simmel, sees money as a component of life that aids an understanding of the totality of life. He is of the view that reification, cynicism, a blasé attitude, and impersonal relationships and individualism characterized social life in a money economy. Wazirin Ɗanduna repeatedly narrates, in different stanzas, that money creates and expands social networks among individuals and its possession is inevitable for an individual’s continuous social existence. For instance, he sings:I hope Dr. Ali won't object to me posting this extensive extract from his paper. I think we're all interested in putting the music we listen to into context.
Wazirin Ɗanduna: Yanzu ba ka mutane sai kana da kuɗi
’Y/Amshi: Tsakanin Ɗan’ adam da Kuɗi
Wazirin Ɗanduna: People relate with you only if you have money
Chorus: Money and a man
Wazirin Ɗanduna: Yanzu duk wata harka sai kana da kuɗi
’Y/Amshi: Tsakanin Ɗan’ adam da Kuɗi
Wazirin Ɗanduna: Every deal nowadays is traced to money
Chorus: Money and a man
In the two stanzas above, Wazirin Ɗanduna also expresses the tragedy of culture; people indispensably need money (the objective culture) in order to relate with others and be functioning members of society, which paves the way for self-reflection and development of self-consciousness (the subjective culture). This means that money has assumed a life of its own, exerting independent influence on the humans who created it.
The impersonal nature of money has also been stressed by Wazirin Ɗanduna. He, like Simmel, affirms that people are connected only by an interest that can be expressed in monetary terms. He also indicates in the stanzas following that money, rather than individuals’ personal qualities and social ties, shapes our everyday dealings with others. In other words, it depersonalizes relationships between individuals; it makes an individual’s personal attributes, other ties, etc. immaterial. For instance, when he says ‘no deals without money’ and ‘every deal nowadays is traced to money,' he underestimates the influence of blood and social ties or, more precisely, envisions them as withering away in modern time. Wazirin Ɗanduna says:
Yanzu ba wata harka sai kana da kuɗi
‘No deals without money’
Yanzu duk wata harka sai kana da kuɗi
‘Every deal nowadays is traced to money’
Akan so mummuna saboda kuɗi
‘Someone ugly is desired because of money’
Ka ga ana ƙin kyakkyawa saboda kuɗi
‘And someone beautiful is rejected because of money
Wazirin Ɗanduna was also interested in analyzing the reification that characterized a money economy. He identifies certain attributes that were hitherto non-monetary, but are nowadays treated as if they are concrete or material things. He specifically emphasizes respect, truth and love as abstract things that are tied to money in the stanzas quoted beneath:
Ko girma ma sai kana da kuɗi
‘Prestige is only tied to money’
Kuma akan yi rashin girma saboda kuɗi
‘And one falls from grace because of money’
Ana ɗaukar magana saboda kuɗi
‘Command is obeyed because of money’
Ana ƙin magana saboda kuɗi
‘And command is disobeyed because of money’
Ana raba ka da girma saboda da kuɗi
‘You can be snubbed without money’
Ҡaramin yaro saboda kuɗi
‘A boy with money’
Ana masa ban girma saboda kuɗi
‘Is respected because of money’
Ana take ƙarya saboda kuɗi
‘a lie is often covered-up because of money’
In the stanzas above, Wazirin Ɗanduna explicitly shows that respect and disrespect are associated with money. He also shows that lies can be covered up and treated as truths because of money. This means that respect and truth are treated as if they are commodities that have prices. To further illustrate this point, he narrates that:
Ko Alhaji ya zo sai ka na da kuɗi
‘Alhaji’s presence is recognized only if he is affluent’
Alhaji ko baya nan don saboda kuɗi
‘Alhaji’s absence is noticed because of money’
In the preceding stanzas, he shows that Alhaji’s (used in this context to refer to a head of a family) presence or absence is recognized even by the members of his family only because of money. This means one’s position in the family does not determine the respect accorded to him or his influence on other members of the family – what determines these things is his or her material position.
Wazirin Ɗanduna also shows that reification has resulted in a blasé attitude; people are unperturbed by certain virtues, they are rather concerned with excessive materialism. To stress this, he, like Simmel, uses marriage for material gain as an example. Wazirin Ɗanduna demonstrates that material consideration assumes more prominence in choosing a marriage partner than genuine personal affection, state of health, temperament, physical appearance, and other non-material virtues possessed by the chosen partner. Wazirin Ɗanduna explicitly shows this in the stanzas below:
Ana auren gurgu saboda kuɗi,
‘A paraplegic is often married because of money’
Ana ƙin mai kafa saboda kuɗi
‘And yet a healthy person is disliked because of money’
Ana son mummuna saboda kuɗi,
‘Someone ugly is desired because of money’
Ka ga ana ƙin kyakkyawa saboda kuɗi
‘And someone beautiful is also rejected because of money’.
The aforesaid stanzas indicate that physical deformities, ugliness and beauty are ignored or, to put it differently, are less important in selecting a partner. What is most important is the material status of the partner. This means money has made people develop a blasé attitude with respect to these virtues (beauty, truth, temperament, fitness, etc.)...
4 ባህል አንፀባራቂዎች
4 bahəl anṣäbaraqiwočč
4 Cultural stars
ልዩ የባህል ዘፈኖች በካሴትና በቪዲዮ ክር ከአምባሰል
ləyyu yäbahəl zäfänočč bäkasetənna bävidiyo kərr kä-ambasäl
Extraordinary traditional songs on cassette and on video cassette from Ambassel
Yirga Dubale, an iconic masinko player, raconteur, and poet, left a lasting musical legacy when he died from nerve damage last week aged 82. Over the course of his career, which spanned more than 60 years, Yirga strived to broaden the exposure of Amharic folk and patriotic music with an intensely communicative style. With current of lyricism that expresses solidarity with the poor, he had an active role in preserving and promoting the Gondar’s Azmari tradition.
Born in Koza Belesa of Gondar region in May, 1929, Yirga developed an interest in music at an early age. His father, Likke Mekuas Dubale Negash, was a celebrated music player who demonstrated to his son the deep pleasure of music. Yirga started playing maskino (a violin-like instrument) at an early age of ten. At twelve, he left his family and headed to Gondar town, beginning an itinerant life. Over the next few years, Yirga honed his skills and began to make a name for himself performing in cabarets and public places.
In 1947 the young musician came to Addis Ababa and joined the Armed Force Band but he was disappointed by the low pay and went back to Gondar. However, he was caught and made to return. He once said in an interview that despite all this, he was well-liked by members of the army and the imperial regime. “I was showered with gifts of guns and colts which I later sold for Humera and Metema merchants,” he said.
Years later, Yirga spent a year in Asmara, singing at a bar in what soon became a popular draw on the city’s music scene. Among the audience members was a military general, Aman Mickael Andom, commander of the Third Division in the Emperor’s Army. He liked Yirga so much that he soon had him in a mission to inspire and cheer the fighting forces of the country. Yirga was taken to the far battle fields of Eritrea to chant for the army, receiving applauds. Days later, to his surprise, he found himself performing in front of the Emperor who came to greet the army in Mitistwa. The occasion was broadcast by radio and brought him tremendous fame. In 1971, Yirga was awarded the King’s First Class Order of Merit Award from Colonel Tamrat Yigezu. One of his achievements was forming a musical group in Gondar town, the Fasiledes Musical Group. As a much-loved teacher for years he taught many of today’s leading musicians.
With the coming of the military regime, Yirga left the country and moved to Israel. The departure proved a fruitful move for the musician as he soon found himself performing in Israel, Europe and America for the expatriate Ethiopian audience.
In 1991 he was back in Ethiopia to begin a gentle climb through the national music. He’s had many appearances in grand events. Unfortunately, a nerve breakdown eight years ago left the masinko player paralyzed, which he blamed on a betrayal of the business partner when he was trying to open a club in Haya Hulet area.
A likeable man with a disarmingly easy-going manner, Yirga retained a large fan base. He was recently awarded Lifetime Achievement Award by the Gondar Development Association. He is survived by his wife, to whom he was married for 46 years, and his six children.
The kuntigi is a small, single-stringed lute. The body is usually a large, oval-shaped sardine can covered with goatskin. Dan Maraya and other kuntigi players are solo performers who accompany themselves with a rapid ostinato on the kuntigi. During instrumental interludes they repeat a fixed pattern for the song they are playing, but while singing, they will often change the notes of the pattern to parallel the melody they are singing.
Like most professional musicians, the mainstay of Dan Maraya's repertoire is praise singing, but Dan Maraya singles out his personal heroes rather than the rich and famous. His first, and perhaps still his most famous song is "Wak'ar Karen Mota" ("Song of the Driver's Mate") in praise of the young men who get passengers in and out of minivan buses and do the dirty work of changing tires, pushing broken down vans, and the like. During the Nigerian Civil War, he composed numerous songs in praise of soldiers of the federal army and incorporated vivid accounts of scenes from the war in his songs.Dan Maraya's music promoted family and social values as well as national unity. He campaigned for polio vaccination and was politically active as well, performing on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan's People's Democratic Party in the 2015 elections. He passed away June 20, 2015 in Jos. On the occasion, his good friend Ladan Salihu, Director General of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, declared:
Here's a musical offering from this immortal poet, the 1986 LP Kudi Masu Gida Rana (Polydor POLP 151). I'm unable to tell you anything about the songs or their lyrics. I hope you'll enjoy it.
Inaa Lillaahi Wa Innaa ilaihir raaji’un. One of Nigeria’s foremost Hausa musicians, poet, philosopher and philanthropist, Dr Adamu Danmaraya Jos has answered Allah’s call about an hour ago. He died in Jos after a protracted illness. When I visited him two weeks ago, he spoke passionately about the Unity of the North and of one Nigeria. We shared many moments. He was to me a brother and a friend. I am devastated. But I am proud he lived a very useful life, transforming society through music and silently through Islamic endeavours. May Allah grant him Aljannatul Firdaus. Jos was a poet and griot, and his music was often laced with philosophy and drama.
The past few years have seen the release of a spate of highlife recordings by Ghanaian musicians based abroad. A major and common characteristic of these recordings is the strong infusion of funk rhythms and the utilisation of a plethora of modern electronic gadgets. A number of these musicians, including George Darko, Kantata, Rex Gyamfi, Allan Cosmos Adu and Charles Amoah, are based in West Germany and this had led to the music being labeled "Burgher" highlife. In Ghana a "Burgher" refers to one who has lived in West Germany for a while.
It is difficult to define what is "correct" highlife because the music has over the years been open to new approaches and innovations although usually in a certain context. One can safely say, however, that be it the palmwine bar style of Kwa Mensah and Kaikaku or the big band treatment of Uhuru and Ramblers, the music has always posessed that loose, free-flowing and lilting quality that always makes it easily identifiable.
Local acts like Sweet Talks, Pat Thomas, C. K. Mann and Precious Jewels, especially in the 1970s, flirted with the strict, constant beat mainly associated with American funk music, but even there the highlife feel dominated, and it was abundantly clear what line they were toeing. George Darko's 1983 release "Akoo Te Brofo" had the trappings of a highlife tune but leaned much more towards funk and that became the real trailblazer. Musicians who have recorded material in the highlife-funk vein, apart from the ones mentioned earlier, include Dan Davies, Andy Vans, Asafo and Julius Antwi.
Describing his own approach to the music, George Darko said: "As a guitarist trying to fuse highlife with other styles I think it is necessary for me to utilize the indigenous 'Yaa Amposah'style of picking the strings because if the keyboard is doing strictly jazz or funk, the guitar cannot tread the same path. The drums and the bass can be made to play anything but the guitar and the vocals must always bring out the highlife feel"....
....In an interview on Radio Ghana, Kwabena Fosu-Mensah, a music journalist based in Britain commented: "I feel that they (the Burgher highlife exponents) are more popular here in Ghana for various reasons. One of the reasons is that I think the whites, especially in UK, want authentic African music that is properly recorded. Wheras here [in Ghana] it seems that people are going for George Darko-style, Rex Gyamfi-style and so on."
Some amount of adverse criticism has been aired around the "Burgher" highlife trend. Producer Mohammed Malcolm Ben said: "It is only our fascination with American funk music that makes us think that we have to make highlife sound like funk to make it sell abroad...If we encourage the trend of highllfe music that is going on now, I mean the fusion with the funk rhythms, there would soon come a time when the original highlife as handed down over the years would be dead and that would be very, very unfortunate."
Another producer, Faisal Helwani told the Mirror newspaper that "some of them play straight funk, add Akan lyrics and call it highlife ... Our radio stations are not encouraging traditional highlife anymore. Everyday, all one hears is this kind of 'Burgher' highlife."
Paa Kwesi Brew, a disk-jockey on GBC-2, reacted to Faisal's comments by saying: "As DJs we play tunes, both old and new, to liven up the station. We can't play only the old approaches to highlife and leave the modern ones. Highlife has many branches. The root is there but there are many branches to make up the canopy."
The "Burgher" highlife is a trend that is still developing. A number of the exponents currently sound alike but this is likely to change as the style gradually becomes more clearly defined and consolidated. It may bloom and it may wither, but for the moment it is here, and to turn deaf ears to it would be like strangling a newborn, healthy baby.Today's featured artist, George Darko, as mentioned in the above article, was a pioneer of Burger Highlife who was quite popular in the 1980s. Ending up in West Germany like so many other Ghanaians as the result of an economic crisis at home, he set out to make a new sound that combined the music of his homeland with modern studio technology. John Duke wrote in the March 14, 1988 issue of West Africa:
... George Darko says he is a jazz fanatic at heart but he also has a great love of highlife. His dream is to see highlife develop and achieve universal status as reggae has done. He feels it needs to be packaged in such a way that it becomes acceptable to the European market. He realises that roots highlife itself, tends to be too heavy for those who are not thoroughly conversant with African music. Even Africans sometimes get bored with the monotony of the rhythms although the music can be infinitely beautiful.
The compromise was to find a middle ground for Europeans - giving them the kind of music they are familiar with and at the same time introduce them to the originality and the scope of highlife. Afro-fusion, as Darko calls it, was the result ...Darko scored big with the song "Akoo te Brofo" from his first LP, Friends (Okoman DA 1) in 1982. His followup, 1983's Hi-Life Time (Okoman DA 2), was even bigger, propelling him to the world stage and sparking denunciations from purists. Elizabeth Sobo, a columnist for the US music magazine The Beat, flatly declared it "not highlife," and other reviewers sniffed at its synth-driven, modern ambiance.