angola45

Angolan 45s and more

Santocas “O Massacre de Kifangondo” (MPLA/DIP, 1976)

As scheduled, 38 years ago, on November 11, 1975, MPLA’s (the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola) Agostinho Neto, from Luanda, officially proclaimed Angola’s independence. He was not alone. Holden Roberto, the FNLA (National Front for the Liberation of Angola) leader, was declaring it from Ambriz, while UNITA’s (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) Jonas Savimbi was professing as much from Nova Lisboa (now, Huambo). A sign of things to come. So it would be naive to dedicate a post to the occasion.  Instead, here’s a song by the unapologetic Santocas (easily recognizable, although the single, released by MPLA’s DIP – Department of Information and Propaganda with ref# S002, was issued without any credits – btw, more on Santocas in future posts) that epitomizes not only Angola’s but also the world’s conflicts. “O Massacre de Kifangondo” refers to a complex and decisive battle that took place just a day before these events, on November 10, 1975, involving FNLA’s forces aided by the Zairean and South-African armies, and the victorious MPLA troops (the FAPLA) backed by Cuban soldiers and Soviet Union officials. Further south, UNITA had the military support of the USA. Yes, all pieces were in place.

Santocas sings that the Kifangondo massacre – allegedly perpetrated by FNLA – will not be forgotten: “These barbarians still rape and torture children/ They’re lackeys paid with American dollars/ These Judas will have to be judged / By the people”. So, Angolans were independent. They were also finding out that the liberator could become the oppressor.

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Orquestra A Voz d’África “Não ao Tribalismo” (Merengue, 1977)

A low ref#, MPA-4002 to be precise, leads people to believe that this was one of Merengue’s first singles, presumably released in 1974-75. But you only have to listen to what the band is singing about to realize it just couldn’t be. The a-side is a dedication to a FAPLA (the People’s Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola) leader – José Mendes de Carvalho, known as Hoji Ya Henda – dead in combat against the Portuguese army, so no way the Portuguese censors would allow that one to pass. And the b-side, “Não ao Tribalismo”, is all about praising other commanding officers (Valódia, Gika, etc) and, of course, president Agostinho Neto, while criticizing tribalism, capitalism, imperialism, federalism, etc, and calling for unity. One of its ironies: it is sung in Portuguese – not only as means of entitlement but also as a way to exhort national identity.

Fans of classic Congolese music of the 60s and 70s will indubitably recognize where A Voz d’África and its leader, Othis Mbembay, were coming from. Like many of the Cabinda bands (Super Coba, Cabinda Ritmo, Bela Negra, etc) and singers (Matadidi Mário, Pépé Pepito, Nonó Manuela, etc), they were actually Angolan expats, refugees and immigrants in DR Congo. Mbembay was also a member of the famous Inter-Palanca band, led by Matadidi and also including Diana Simão Nsimba (a former member of Sam Mangwana’s Festival des Maquisards and Tabu Ley’s African Fiesta National). Mbembay and Simão would also form Os Malucos and Olímpia in the mid-seventies. So this is part of a very interesting narrative: the way in which the Congolese sound influenced Angola’s post-independence music. There’s a compilation here, for sure.

Short-lived, like many bands in the day, A Voz d’África included a typical Congolese line-up: a lead singer and three backing vocalists harmonizing (Diwidi-Andre, Adolfo-Bunga, ‘Drolly’ Pedro and Domingos Bento), bass (Theodór), percussion (Paulo ‘Prince’ and Manuelito Boal) and dueling guitars (Nsukami N’Dombasi on rhythm and Mbembay soloing).

Listen up!

[This post is dedicated to the Likembe blog]

Note: I took these band credits from another A Voz d’África single, “Kumba” (MPA-4053), but the sleeve was so worn that I’m not really sure of the spelling; and there’s always the possibility of line-up changes.

Note II: Angola’s music scene was packed with talent. Merengue hardly repeated artists and in 4 years released tracks by Teta Lando, Super Coba, Os Astros, Conjunto Merengue, Lewis, Bela Negra, Tino Diá Kimuezo, Ngoma Jazz, João Anesse, Avôzinho, Jucas, Jorge Manuel, Os Anjos, Nelas, Rui Morais, Carlos Lamartine, Prado Paim, Mário Matadidi, Luis Visconde, João Pequeno, Cardoso Soares, Paulo Jorge, Buarque, Pedro Romeu, Jucas, Nito Nunes, Maró Riba, Marques Nascimento, Joy Artur, Jacinto Lima, Juju Tony, Jaburu, Minguito, Filipito, Tito, José Agostinho, Paulo Neto, Nonó Manuela, Quim Manuel, Pépé Pepito, Carlos Burity, Maiuka and Tico Costa.

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.

Quinteto Angolano “N’Tangua Leka Yé” (Ngola, 1969)

“N’Tangua Leka Yé”, a lullaby, was issued as a split 7″ by N’gola (the Angolan branch of Portuguese label Valentim de Carvalho) to mark the 24th World Sailing Championships – Snipe class – held in Luanda in 1969.  Its a-side was, appropriately, “Snipes”, by Dicanzas do Prenda. Now, Quinteto Angolano was, of course, the band that would ultimately become Ngoma Jazz – you can read about it on one my previous posts – led by songwriter and guitar player Matumona Sebastião. In fact, Ngoma Jazz – Sebastião, with Garcia Kipioca (voice, bells), Zé Manuel (lead voice), Caetano Lemos (percussion), Augusto Pedro (rhythm guitar), Ferreira Domingos (bass guitar) and Mangololo (percussion) – was formed in 1966 so this track was, in all likelihood, rescued from the archives.

Matumona Sebastião was born on May 28, 1937, in the northern Uíge province. In his teens his parents moved south, to Benguela, and he had some guitar lessons with Cape Verdean immigrants. He would credit this dispersion as one of the causes for Ngoma Jazz’s success – Mangololo was from Malanje, Lemos from Luanda, Manuel hailed from Sovo, Garcia a fellow Uígense. The band was instrumental in raising the capital city’s awareness of northern Angolan rhythms. From 1967 on Ngoma Jazz would release tracks such as “Sá Madia”, “Ua Diami”, “Ngongo Jami”, “Ngolo Banza Kamba Diami Didinho”, “Madi Ndumba Mbote”, “Yá Mbanza Riqueta”, “Nzolua”, “Lola”, the big hit “Belita Kiri Kiri”, “Kubata diá Mwangana”, “Merengue Madrugada”, “Kento-Ame”, “Mukonda Dia Kubanza”, “Segula”, etc.

Conjunto Os Anjos “Angola Rumo ao Progresso” (Merengue, 1977)

Here’s a wonderful post-independence track by Os Anjos, “Angola Rumo ao Progresso” (Angola on the course to progress). It was issued by Merengue in 1977, with ref# MPA-4019, months before the release of another great single: “Choro da Revolução/Avante Juventude” (ref# MPA-4034). The latter is actually the opening track on Analog Africa‘s upcoming “Angola Soundtrack 2” compilation which I, of course, urge you to buy. So, for now, no more on Os Anjos! This post is dedicated to Samy Ben Redjeb.

Milá Melo & Conjunto Dipanda “Quem Quer a Paz?” (Kwacha/UNITA)

Who wants peace?

The Angolan people (repeat)

Who asks for justice?

The Angolan people

Who wants the truth?

The Angolan people

Then fight for peace with Savimbi

Then fight for justice with Unita

Angolans are those who love Angola

And to love Angola is to help her to grow, to work on her behalf

No to hatred!

No!

No to racism!

No!

No to civil war, no!

No!

Milá Melo was born Maria Emília Carmelino de Melo on the Huambo province in 1943. She moved to Luanda, lived in the Benfica neighborhood, had huge hits, such as “Vamos à Anhara” and “Tchakuparica”, and was, alongside Lourdes Van-Dúnem, Belita Palma, Conceição Legot, Lilly Tchiumba, Alba Clington, Garda, Tchinina, Sara Chaves, Conchita de Mascarenhas, etc, a very influential and popular singer.

Presumably, given MPLA’s (the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola) grip on the country, her political alignment, supporting Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola), led to a career stalemate. This track, with very curious jazzy undercurrents and a rather funky backbone, is particularly explicit of her political work and anticipated a future that was not to be: a civil war did ruin Angola from 1975 to 2002. Note that it is sung in Portuguese and not in Umbundu or Kimbundu, signaling an unequivocal conciliatory tone, probably for propaganda purposes. Notwithstanding its indoctrination, it is a tremendous and rather unusual expression of unadulterated musicianship and a sincere manifestation of hope. Sadly Milá Melo was unable to continue her career while in exile.

Vasco Ricardo da Fonseca feat. Conjunto João Domingos ‘Muanaguae’ (Cináfrica, 1967)

A last foray into Mozambique before returning to those heavier Angolan sounds that  account for just over 10,000 plays on my Soundcloud tab – thanks everybody!

This is a rare Vasco Ricardo da Fonseca side – and what a sensitive and graceful crooner he was – featuring the wonderful Conjunto João Domingos, apace with Conjunto Young Issufo, Orquestra Djambo and Conjunto Harmonia as one of the greatest Afro-Mozambican bands ever (bear in mind, the very disputable tag I just hesitated to use, and that I don’t really care for, has a specific purpose: to historically extricate those so-called ‘indigenous’ bands – that, blatantly, weren’t all playing Marrabenta – from the dominant, colonist, music scene largely spearheaded by, in some cases, also very exciting, integrated, Luso-Mozambican pop bands, such as Rebeldes, Night Stars, Apaches, Corsários, Inflexos, Conjunto de Oliveira Muge, AEC 68, Impacto or Sérgio & Madi).

Sung in Swahili – mwanangu means ‘my son’ – ‘Muanaguae’ comes off as a very whimsical but somewhat wistful number, with essential contributions from just about everyone in the band. Carlos Santos – check his blog for a bunch of Mozambican goodies here – assures me it was recorded in 1967 by sound engineer Abel Ferrão and that Fonseca hailed from Quelimane, the capital of the province of Zambezia. It was issued by Cináfrica – without a cover – with ref# N3. Its b-side was “Anat’Chuabo Anot’Chaguare’.

If you have any information about Vasco Ricardo da Fonseca please comment!

Se possui informações sobre Vasco Ricardo da Fonseca ou este single por favor comente.