Tchinina feat. Os Bongos “Teya-Teya” (Rebita, 1975)
As I’ve mentioned before, Analog Africa’s “Angola Soundtrack 2” is about to be released and knowing most of its alleged tracklist I can absolutely vouch for it. But seeing as all compilations are intrinsically flawed I hope that one of its consequences will be encouraging listeners to dig deeper. For instance, an obvious shortcoming: the omission of female singers.
Bear in mind that, historically, women in Angola had less access to education and employment, fewer economical opportunities, and had to struggle against all sorts of social and sexual stereotypes. But when it was time to generate a meaningful audience across class lines, they eschewed gender hierarchies performing alongside men and celebrating Angola’s erstwhile beliefs and, specifically, Luanda’s newfound urban values.
They also got involved with clubs and residents’ associations at organizational levels and very soon a whole generation of singers and songwriters – such as Lourdes Van-Dúnem, Dina Santos, Belita Palma, Milá Melo, Conceição Legot, Milita, Lilly Tchiumba, Alba Clington, Garda, Sara Chaves, Conchinha de Mascarenhas, Fernanda Ferreirinha, Celita Santos or, obviously, Tchinina – helped transform women’s role in society. From then on, women were not only the subject of song – idealized lovers, mothers, aunts or grandmothers or, on the other hand, targets of social criticism– but also producers and consumers of songs.
It is of the utmost importance to acknowledge women’s contributions to Angola’s 60s and 70s narrative of cultural production and nationalism. Their role – especially in the music scene – has been ghettoized for too long, considering their artistic achievements and their willingness to engage as equals in a context of colonization.
Born in September 19, 1950, on the Huambo province, Teresa da Cruz Manjenje ‘Tchinina’ had a rough childhood. A runaway, she auditioned for Ndimba Ngola – then touring Malanje – in 1970 and joined the band. In 1973 she recorded her first single, “O amor é como as rosas/Utima ua teka teka”, and got involved with the kutonoca itinerary music shows, performing with Milá Melo, Teta Lando, Mário Gama, Lourdes Van-Dúnem, Belita Palma, Elias diá Kimuezo, António Paulino, David Zé, Urbano de Castro, Artur Nunes, Cirineu Bastos, Zé Viola and Sofia Rosa.
She recorded “Mãe Angola”, “Lamento”, “Alundu”, “Somaiangue”, “Ngangaté” and “Maia Ngola” for Valentim de Carvalho and Fadiang, supported by the likes of África Ritmos, África Show, Os Gingas, Cabinda Ritmos or, as in this case, Boto Trindade’s Os Bongos. Fleeing the raging civil war she left Angola on March 1976, departing for Portugal. Opportunities to continue her career were few and far between. As recently as July 2012 she was distinguished in a ceremony in Huambo as an outstanding artist who did much to popularize Angolan music worldwide.