Southern African Music

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In Mozambique, main music styles coexist. On the one hand the ’timbil’ which is rather a rural music and played with xylophone. In addition the «marrabenta» which is more urban and where guitars are the main musical instruments. In Zimbabwe, the music scene of the country is totally dominated by Thomas Mapfumo, a veteran with strong personality called “the lion of Zimbabwe”. Among young generation, raises the name of Stella Chiweshe who sings while playing electric «kalimba» or «thumb piano». Lastly, the singer Dorothy Masuka has been for several decades the specialist for African jazz where the swing mingles with local feel.

South Africa is a special country. Apartheid ended in 1991, but colonists are still there. One of the main styles of the country is «mbaqanga», vocal style mainly represented by Mahlathini (the lion of Soweto) and the Mahotella Queens group (formed in 1964). The Zulu songs, which were revealed to the world by Paul Simon and his album “Graceland” accompanied by the chorus of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The white singer Johnny Clegg, very influenced by rock’n’roll, also sings in Zulu. If his previous music groups, Juluka then Savuka, were marked by a strong anti-apartheid message, Johnny Clegg has today a solo career less spectacular but very active.
In South Africa, jazz music has an important presence which has influenced English jazz musicians for long time. Among these artists we can quote the white pianist Chris McGregor, leader of Blue Notes group and Brotherhood Of Breath group, and trumpeter Mongezi Feza. Pianist Dollar Brand, who converted to Islam and became Abdullah Ibrahim, developed his own style in an intimate and intense way. Trumpeter Hugh Masekela collaborated a lot with him. As for Miriam Makeba, she is often confined into jazz music only but her talent covers the whole range of African music. She is simply a great soul music singer. Lastly, we observe on the South African musical spectrum specific music style which emerge regularly. In the Sixties South African rhythm’ blues music dominated by the Soul Brothers, was influenced by Afro American music. Twenty years later a very active and atypical reggae music led by singer Lucky Dube (assassinated in 2007) appeared. It was called “bubblegum” and was a mix of pop Anglo-American and disco music along with emphasized vocals, brass and guitars.
When we speak about Africa and its south area, we should not forget Indian Ocean islands. These islands have a very rich and diverse musical culture with strong influences from China, India, Pakistan and the Creole world. In Reunion island (a French island located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar and southwest of Mauritius), Danyel Waro is one of the main representatives of the maloya, a particular style which has its roots in Malagasy, African, Indian and European music, and which became a festive and strong identity music, as much profane as sacred. Along with guitar, bass, violin, saxophone and new electronic instruments, maloya musicians have also their own percussion instruments such as the “roulèr” which is a big drum made up of a barrel and a beef skin. Songs are in Creole and French, while also borrowing languages from the various local communities, creating astonishing neologisms. Danyel Waro, Ti Fock, Rene Lacaille, and mythical Alain Peters are following the steps of pioneers like Grammoun Lélé and Firmin Viry. Among young generations it is necessary today to take into account singers like Nathalie Natiembé and Davy Sicard who are constantly renewing maloya music. We find similar music and related genres of maloya in Mauritius, Mayotte, and the Comoros where the singer Mikidache sings in Comorian, Madagascan, French and English.
In Madagascar, Rajery is one of the specialists of valiha (tube zither from Madagascar made from a species of local bamboo; it is considered the «national instrument» of Madagascar). Originally, reunionese maloya is a trance music where the singer communicates with the dead or spirits. At the end of the Eighties, maloya is progressively influenced by reggae and will give birth to seggae (séga + reggae) and maloggae (maloya + reggae). Over the nineties we see the apparition of electric maloya, maloya-rock’n’roll, maloya-jazz, maloya-blues, and maloya-techno.