Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Music And Arts Scene

African Records Review

By Kwabena Asamoah

SONNY OKOSUN: 'Which Way Nigeria?' (HMV(N)036)
‘African Woman' 'Which Way Nigeria?'/'Tell My People' 'My Ancestors'

The father of Ozidism, Sonny Okosun, follows up his hit Third World' and 'Mother & Child' albums with yet another album, this time overloaded with messages for his fellow Nigerians and Africans.

In the first track of the A-side, Okosuns calls on African women to rise up and fight against cultural imperialism and exploitation. Sophisticated and well-arranged music accompanies the message. The combined efforts of the guitars, drums and the horns flash in your ears even before one of the best African female choruses hit you with chants of "African women, remember!". The jazz guitar chords backed by sharp synthesiser props and electronic claps add a special character to a music that hovers around funk. With Sonny singing in both English and Ibo the music and the message will reach a wider audience.

Of course, Okosuns is also well known for his arrangements as well as his lyrics. "Which Way Nigeria?' is an attack on inefficiency, corruption, greed and indiscipline which have afflicted the Nigerian society especially since the oil boom. The messages are boldly displayed on the front and back of the double-sleeved album.

As an encouragement to Namibians in particular and Africans in general, Sonny Okosuns urges them to fight for freedom in 'Tell My People'. Accompanied by a tidy, but short, horn licks, the guitars join in the crusade of hope for freedom. The music is equally heroic in 'My Ancestors' where the keyboards and the rhythm guitar effectively share the prominence.

On balance 'Tire Ni Oluwa' on the Third World' album sounds superb but the messages in 'Which Way Nigeria?' should be taken seriously.

'Sandra Lina' 'Nyongo Ekeseni' 'Foshi'/'Massela'

The indefatigable Zaiko Langa Langa, one of Zaire's most prolific groups for 14 years, demonstrate their prodigious vitality in this album which was recorded in Belgium.

The opening 'Sandra Lina' is a sweet-voiced ballad laced with guitar props at the beginning which suddenly moves into mid-tempo gear. Is 'Foshi' any different? Vocal harmony remains one of the ingredients of this track; besides, the guitars grow wilder with the support of the congas.

Kanda Bongo Man, Souzzy Kasseya and Mpouki Kimbolo have introduced more dynamic guitar licks into their music as modern Zairean musicians. Those who have remained in the busi-ness for long may suffer from lack of innovation and new techniques. Zaiko Langa Langa might be a victim of this The brutal war dogs reality but they strive to salvage the situation in 'Massela' and 'Nyongo Ekeseni' with a blend of vocal vitality. Mind you, in modern Zairean music if Of life and Blood. you get both superb vocal delivery and harmony plus wicked guitar riffs Heaven can wait, but in this album beautiful voices seem to be the strongest points. Your ears are better served this way.

The Trial of Dedan Kimath

From Monday, October 15 to Sunday, October 21 the play 'The Trial of Dedan Kimath' by Ngugi Wa Thiong'o and Micere Mugo and directed by Ngugi Wa Thiong'o with Dan Baron-Cohen, will be up for public viewing at the Africa Centre.

The play is set in 1952-60, the last phase of British colonial rule in Kenya. Kimathi, leader of the Kenya Land and Freedom Army (Mau Mau) is shown in the final confrontation with his British captors before his execution in 1957. Using mime, dance and song the play recreates the collective will of Kenyan peasants and workers and their continued determination to resist exploitation, oppression and neo-colonialism.

The play analyses the correction between the church, the banking world and the law courts in the exploitation of working people, and gives positive images that demonstrate the possibilities of collective organisations and resistance.

African music scene at the 100 Club

African music is still at the forefront of most musical activities in most parts of London and this spirit has been successfully carried on at the heart of London by TSAfrica, ably run by Julian Bahula, the exiled South African bandleader and promoter. 100 Club situated at the centre of Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road, in the West End of London, provides a venue where pulsating African and Latin American salsa music can be heard every weekend.

Saturday begins with SUPER-COMBO, a Sierra Leonean group known for their blend of hi-life and vibrant Freetown rhythms, SONIDO DE LONDRES, a London-based salsa group and the sensational KABBALA a Ghanaian London-based band led by Mike Osapanin, will treat dancers and listeners with the most infectious rhythms around. Sunday starts and finishes off a little earlier with ARACATCA FM from Columbia and the inimitable DUDU PUKWANA' ZILA, representing South Africa's cultural diversity.

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