June 09, 2013


"Danser le twist"(1965) © Malick Sidibé
Although still at a 'tender age' I have consciously lived through the era of the twist. I have vivid memories of aunts making a total fool of themselves. And of us - the children - giggling, and subsequently being sent out of the room. I even remember cautious efforts at executing the dance (and 'executing' is a good description..) in an early attempt to show that I was "with it".

I have to admit I was puzzled (to say the least) when I found out - a few decades later - that this dance had been copied in several African countries (see also this post). A dance which conjures up images of awkward, even embarrassing body contortions by oversized humans, being performed in countries where dance and rhythm was an integral part of life? Why?

A key to an answer was given by Franco. In an interview in 1987 he pointed out that Africans have no problem in integrating influences from other continents. He himself was a great fan of 'musique slow', by which he meant a large repertoire varying from soul ballads to entertainment music from films and such. The fact that Africans took aboard influences was not a problem, according to Franco. The real problem was that the broad public in the US and Europe make no attempt to get to know the music from Africa.
Unfortunately, little has changed in the 26 years that have passed...

This brings me to the subject of this post. But with a twist....
For in looking for a digital version of the sleeve* of this lp (which I copied to cassette sometime in the 1980s) I was struck by the constant references to the fact that a group from the UK had covered a song by this artist. One could easily get the impression that Daudi Kabaka's only contribution to the welfare of mankind has been that "his song "Helule Helule" was covered by The Tremeloes and () became a hit in United Kingdom" (wikipedia).

Luckily there are others who manage to stay away from justifying the mention of an African artist by how he or she can be linked to the western world. I particularly like the article by Douglas Paterson, which highlights Kabaka's career from an African perspective.
If you ask me Daudi Kabaka has done more by singing songs like the delightful "Kiliyo Kwelu" and the slightly hyper "Jela Kubwa Na Viboko" than by allowing an english band to copy bits from a somewhat boring "Helule Helule".

POLP 531

*If anyone has it, please share it with us...


Timothy said...

A million thanks for unearthing this rare record! It must be at least thirty years since I last heard "Sofia Town" played on the good old V.O.K (Voice of Kenya).

Chris Albertyn said...

Thanks Stefan - I am enjoying this!

jan duinkerken said...

thank you!

Timothy said...

Daudi Kabaka was a moralist par excellence. Like Congo’s Franco, he took every opportunity to decry social vices, especially with respect to modern urban life, driving his message home with satirical but hard-hitting lyrics accompanied by the twist and rumba beats. His music was a mirror of the times and remains an all-time favourite. Most experts of Old-School Swahili pop music would rank him alongside Fundi Konde and Fadhili Williams (Alas, all three probably a tad outshone by Tanzania’s Mbaraka Mwinshehe).
@ Stefan:
If you’ve got some music by Fundi Konde and Fadhili Williams in your collection, perhaps you could consider sharing it at some point in the future.

WrldServ said...

@Timothy: Thanks for this information. I really appreciate these 'enrichments'.

As far as I am aware I have only the odd track by both artists, and usually on (otherwise boring) compilations. But I'll keep a lookout.

kashi said...

"ain't nothing but the old time Shimmy"

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the music. Shemegi Lilumbe will end up being my sole "pick up" from the album, but it's a great, great track.

Anonymous said...

@Timothy,indeed you are quite right about the fact that Mbaraka Mwinshehe Mwaruka was/is in a class of his own when the question is asked of who is the most accomplished musician to have come from East Africa in the last century.
You mentioned Kabaka,Fundi konde and Fadhili Williams(who sang the original Malaika song),and I will add Salum Abdallah,Marijan Rajab and the brothers of Simba wa nyika/Les wa nyika fame.
All these wre really good musicians,but none came near Soloist national Mwaruka,as anyone who knows east africa`s music scene will tell you,and you Timothy being a good example,welldone.
Mbaraka was just brilliant.
Stefan,thank you so much again even though I have not heard the music,as the links here and this old computer of mine,the less said the better.
I nevertheless always come on the blog when I am off work,for the good discussion and the important information/insight from you,Stefan.
Otherwise I listen the music on your worldservice site on you tube.
Kind regards