South African music

Hugh Masekela is definitely a person I’d think of if some in Hungary asked me – ” so tell me all about it” – his jazz sound is really very unique – it tells a lot about all the travels he’s done but also about his South African roots.

While I was browsing and actually hardly found anything real Masekela related info – I finally came accross this 2002 interview by Banning Eyre – it’s quite a long one – it will give you a good idea about the life work of this SA jazz maestro:

B.E.: …. let’s talk about your side. You weren’t able to go to South Africa for how long?

Hugh:Thirty years.

B.E.: So what’s it like to live there again now?

Hugh: Well, for me it’s a real bonanza because I never thought I’d be able to go back home, and I’ve been back twelve years. And in twelve years, I’ve been able to get to the point where like this album Time is on Chissa Records, which is our own label. I think that, except for like the young musicians who are into like what is called kwaito–South African hip-hop or whatever you call it–they are the first people to do their own productions. It the same way it happened when reggae started in Jamaica or when samba became a craze in Brazil. We’re just getting into a stage where we’re building the first steps towards creating our own industry, and our own manufacturing, wholesaling and marketing, and hopefully our own distribution. And our own broadcasting. But that’s going to take time because we are trying to access a business that was previously white owned. With Chissa, we’re trying to set up something that is modeled on Motown, where there’s collaboration instead of divided artists. We all try to bring like excellence out of each other. (read on…)


When I arrived in South Africa in 1997 – I started my new African adventures with brewing African beer in a factory next to Hammanskraal (North of Pretoria).

The beer we were selling was named Bafana Bafana – name of the South African national football team. Those were interesting times – tipsy times I’d say – since the factory workers for some reason were mostly in a happyyy mood – they were dancing around all day – I wonder why 🙂

This song is by Yvonne Chaka Chaka – one of the greatest singers in SA.

When asked who she admired most, Chaka Chaka said “My mother because she has always been there for me. My mother raised three daughters single-handedly on a domestic workers salary. That took great courage and strength. She is my mentor and hero. When I was born in 1965 in Soweto, it was during apartheid, and those were extremely difficult times. My dad was a great musician who could never realize his dream. He died when I was 11 years old. I inherited my talent from both parents, so music has always been in my blood .When I was little I would strum an empty tin and blow into a broom stick pretending it was a microphone. I sang in church choirs. I loved singing. I am blessed that I achieved my destiny, and been able to accomplish what my father could not.” (Wikipedia)

Yvonne Chaka Chaka : Umqombothi

We MaDlamini
Uph’umqombothi (3x)

I work hard every day
To make my beer
Wake up early every morning
To please my people with African beer
I make sure the fire burns
To make my beer
My special beer Umqombothi
Is African beer

We MaDlamini (Everybody)
Uph’umqombothi (Come and drink my)
We MaDlamini (magic beer)

I work hard to make them happy
Every weekend (Umqombothi)
Makes them party to the rhythm
Makes them dance, this magic beer (Umqobothi)
I wanna make you happy (Umqobothi)
I wanna make you smile (Umqobothi)
I wanna make you dance (Umqobothi), dance
I’ll make sure there’s a party
Where they drink my special beer
Umqombothi is magic beer
Umqombothi is African beer

Chorus 3x
We MaDlamini (Everybody)
Uph’umqombothi (nawu)
We MaDlamini Uph’umqombothi (nawu madoda)

Wozani ka MaDlamini
Wozani ngithi wozani
Wozani ka MaDlamini
Come on I wanna make you happy
I wanna make you smile lets boogie together
Umqombothi (Umqombothi)

I work hard every day
To please my people with African beer
( lyrics from )

I haven’t been posting for a while and one of the reasons is that winter has arrived.

African winters can be cold – just like in Tunis – the winters are chilly – since there is no central heating like in Hungary – so if you are cold – all you can do is – jump up and run a few laps :). So instead of typing away and I spent some time staring into our fireplace while trying to warm up a bit.

OpenCafe fire

… which is really relaxing and if you stare long enough – you might even find that you forget all about the issues of the day … and if by any chance you have some smooth jazz on like this one called ‘African Herbs’ by SA jazz master, Abdullah Ibrahim …..

… then automatically you will be transported to a whole different world – just like you were on a holiday in the … Bahamas …. untilll…

…there is the phone again – and you are rudely taken back to the hard working side of things…

Kerkorrel and friends brought more than a political message to the stage. They also brought incredible licks and rock beats that got the crowd dancing and laughing (read more). Liela

Kerkorrel DVD

Today we bought a Kerkorrel DVD – “‘n Jaar Later” – (buy it at – it is an evening at the State Theater with performers like Valiant Swart, Amanda Strydom, Karen Zoid, Stef Bos – singing Kerkorrel songs. Though I am not really fluent in Afrikaans I can tell that he is an outstanding performer and I hope I will have the time to find out more about his work.

I have heard ‘Halala Afrika‘ many times – I hope soon there will be a video I can put here – once you hear this song you will never forget it :

Halala Afrika, Johannes Kerkorrel (1961-2002).

Toe die wêreld hier nog jong was en die horison wyd en oop
Was dit groen hier in die halfrond, suid van die ewenaar
En in die skemer as die son sak en die beeste huis toe loop
Klink die roepstem van die vrouwe oor die heuvels van die land:
Halala, ewig is ons Afrika.
Tula tula mtanami, tula tula sanaboni, tula tula mtanami,
Ubab uzobuya sihlale naye, ubab uzobuya sihlale sonke, Hmmm-Hmmm

Toe kom die skepe uit die weste, wit seile oor die see
Om te vra vir koos en water en te bly vir so veel meer.
En die land wat een tyd oop was, die land het ons verruil
Vir die ghetto’s van die stede is ons koperdraad gegee.
Halala, ewig is ons Afrika
Halala, sasiphila, kamnandi, halala, mayibuye Afrika
Tula tula mtanami, tula tula sanaboni, tula tula mtanami,
Ubab uzobuya sihlale naye, ubab uzobuya sihlale sonke, Hmmm-Hmmm

Daar was rykdom in die maag van ons moeder Afrika
Diamante en ook steenkool, goud, edel metaal
En die mense word die slawe hier want die mense word betaal
Om te tonnel in die aarde elke greintjie uit te haal
En die groot en oop grasvlaktes span dit toe met doringdraad
En van die olifant tot die gemsbok al die diere moes kom buig
Voor die mag van die grootwildjagter voor die mag van sy groot geweer
Totdat net die stilte oorbly, totdat net die stilte heers.

Halala, ewig is ons Afrika.
Halala, sasiphila, kamnandi, halala, mayibuye Afrika
Halala, sasiphila, kamnandi, halala, mayibuye Afrika

(Lyrics from here)

I have been browsing around on Rouvanne’s blog – and a came across one more time the post with “the David Kramer video” – it is without a doubt a masterpiece – so I thought it had to be part of this blog.

I did mention David Kramer before and his documentary called Karoo Kitaar Blues. He is one of those artists that I could listen to day and night – a story teller – his lyrics, music and theater productions are like a long neverending story about the lives of South Africans – and he tells it in an unbelievably simple humble way.

Here is Onnerwater by iaminawe – interesting enough – the sounds of this song resembles Hungarian folk music very much – another proof that no matter where we are from – we are more alike than different, ne?

Other songs:

One day Netanya arrived with “the Freshlyground cd” and she told me – “I am convinced that you will like this one.” She was right.

Freshlyground has unbelievable lyrics and amazing compositions – rich with African atmosphere – from Southern African styles to music from other parts of the continent, violin solos, flute, mbira music and more … They have become so popular so quickly that they need no introduction here – so this post is especially for those poor souls without Freshlyground access 🙂

Here is what their Youtube page says :

Afro-fusion sounds, multilingual lyrics, post-apartheid multiracial South African music heroes… Freshlyground are a band of diverse African musicians based in Cape Town. Born in a bar in Observatory, Cape Town, the guys have stuck to their roots. Their various roots, that is. And that’s saying something in a band of 7.

Here is Doo Be Doo – which everyone knows here in SA – but I am not sure everyone understood what the lyrics is about :

And I’d like :

And if you liked the above – then meet the band :

Other songs:

“It has to do with sounds.
Natural sounds from far up north.
Sounds of rivers with gentle waterfalls.
Sounds from trees though still.
Sounds from the mountain in their fix.

Sounds not only from chirping birds,
Also from least thought of pigs
Creaking doors tenderly pushed ajar
Whispers of wings in the divine space
All in the likeness
of melancholy thoughts.

Many, many years will go by,
Pain will be reduced to understanding
Tears will spell out acceptance
A boy so adored will grow
to find solace in the music
of the Ancestors
for decades to heal.”

Jerry ‘Monk’ Molelekwa
Father of Moses Taiwa Molelekwa

Rouvanne says Moses is one of his favourite SA artists – you can read his posts here and here – I feel the same way – so here is a post about him – though best is if you stop reading right now and listen to his work – you will see what I mean.

Moses Molelekwa (North Sea Jazz Festival - 2000)When I heard Moses’s music for the first time – I thought – wow – and that is all I could think of – when it comes to words – and I was just sitting there listening. The richness and shades of his sounds is amazing and comes so naturally one note after the other. There are artists that don’t have to sit down and write a song – they just start talking or playing and it instantly becomes a piece – so you can’t actually tell the difference when they talk or sing. When one listens to Moses Molelekwa play – it’s as if he was telling a story about the people on the street, the trees and the sky – you don’t really need to hear the words.

When I listen to music I don’t only listen but always think what makes a musician/artist write a song or paint a picture and write a poem (or a combination of all of these) – what exactly inspired him – who & what he/she saw, where he travelled, what experience made him write a song – in other words I take music as something that teaches me about a person, a place, about a situation – that is why I started my Natural mystic pages. Moses’ music vividly explains about his life – it is not music that makes you say – “yes I heard this a million times – it is just like this other piece” – it is music that makes you think : “He is walking down this road, it’s a late sunny afternoon, the birds are singing and …..” etc. etc.

Just listen & watch this video and you will see what I mean :

Hymn for Taiwa – by Moses Khumalo

Here in the OpenCafe we work to the jazzy sounds of artists like Hugh Masekela, Judith Sephuma, Baaba Maal, Vusi Mahlasela and very often Moses Molelekwa – one of our “musical geeks” Kagiso – who is very interested in Linux projects and also plays the saxophone – has his own favourite Molelekwa song which we always play when he is around – Hymn for Taiwa by Moses Khumalo – which is a tribute to a great musican by another jazz great. This song describes the feeling of many of us who love Moses’ music and are sad that he is not with us any more.

Here is another video from Rouvanne’s video collection entitled “Moses Taiwa Molelekwa – jazz genius“:

Other posts on music: