Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Music And Arts Scene

African Records Review

By Kwabena Asamoah

BAGAMAYO GROUP: Tanzanta Yetu (TERRA 101). 'Motyani Wuye' 'Kalanda Katuzana' 'Tanzania Yetu' Mateso' / 'Tuliteswa' 'Chuo Cha Sanaa' 'Ulele Mwana Lelo Zaina' 'Matseo (reprise)'

Thanks to Triple Earth Records (Old Cinema, 160 Chiswick High Rd, London W4) the authentic accoustic music of Tanzania has reached Europe and other parts of the world via a selection of students and lecturers of Bagamayo College of Arts. First discovered in London last year when they took a leading part in the African Music Village under the auspices of the Commonwealth Institute, the skilful and virtuoso musicianship of the Bagamayo Group attracted a sizeable following here in London. The repeat preformance this political. year at the WOMAD festival is only a testimony of the level of performance and the value of music played by the group under the able leadership of Hukwe Zawose.

Using traditional instruments including iseze (a bowed stringed instrument) and marimba (plucked metal tongues on a resonating box) the Bagamayo Group sing about music ('Chou Cha Sanaa'), freedom from the shackles of slavery ("Tuliteswa'), suffering in South Africa ('Mateso') and cultural pride ('Tanzania Tetu').

What runs through almost all the songs on this album is Hukwe Zawose's voice which beautifully adapts to each song and melody and the skilful use of instruments which sounds like a complete group work. Of course, drums underlie the melodic structures of the music while authenticity captures the entire atmosphere.

It is difficult to decide whether the A- side is better than the B-side but as the album is still selling fairly well among lovers of traditional African music some new converts may like to hear it before they commit themselves. We cannot have music. all African songs sounding like Zairean music or Cameroonian makassi.


Nigeria Si Ma Dun' 'World Golden Eaglets' 'Oluwa Bawa Se' 'Ala Ti Mo La A Se' / 'Nibiti Lekeleke Ti Nfoso' 'Tete Se Fun Mi' 'Kirakita O Dola' 'Abgekele Mi Ma Je Ko Do Fo' 'Oluwa Ni Gbe Ni Ga' Miliki king Ebenezer Obey and his 16-strong group continue their normal musical course with My Vision which, I hope, summarises Commander Obey's dreams about his native Nigeria. Mind you, his Operation Feed The Nation was also aimed at complementing the national effort for self-sufficiency in food production, rather than necessarily getting political.

The steady beginning with 'Nigeria Si Ma Dun' crosses into the mid-tempo of 'Oluwa Bawa Se'. Singing to congratulate his nation and its people, Ebenezer Obey has his mind on the music which employs talking drums and guitars to get the message across. The vocal call and answer is only a necessary tool in juju music which can almost be monotonous to alien ears. Of special mention is the magnificent use of the keyboards to sound like zylophone while the ubiquitous Hawaiian guitar gently opens into music.

Even though the intro of the B-side sounds gentle and almost inaudible, it appears to have better music than on the A-side. It's a shame that juju musicians prefer to record a whole side as if it's just one song. I wonder how they get air play in Nigeria, but my immediate instinct is that the radio DJs manage to do so with- out much problem. The music is never- theless pulsating and infinitely moving especially as Obey is a great ally of musical experimentation. The arrangements on this side would tend to remove the monotony usually associated with juju


1. ZULU JIVE VOL. 2 Various Artists (EARTHWORKS)
2. AFRISA SELECTION Tabu Ley Rocherau Azania (STERNS) Zaire
4. 1x2=MABE Youlou Mabiala (APIA) Congo
5. NASI LINGUI Moni Bile/Ben Decca (SAPA) Cameroon
6. MAMA TONTA J.P. Wandji (SOWETO) Cameroon
7. ASANTEMAN Pat Thomas (JAP) Ghana
8. OJO JE Segun Adewale (STERNS) Nigeria
9. MY VISION Ebenezer Obey (OBEY)
10. PLAYS BROADWAY & UHURU Nigeria Recap James (AFROBOOM) Ghana
11. SERVICE LIBRE Eyango Ndedi (DICK'S) Cameroon
2. ABIOSUNNI Gaspar Lawal (HOT/CAP) Cameroon
13. MOVIN' Jackie Esam (BMCA) Cameroon
14. AYAYI Adomako Nyamekye (YEB) Ghana
15. PARTY PARTY Atakora Manu STIBAKA) Ghana

Chart courtesy of AFROBOOM RECORDS,
135 Clarence Road, London E5 8EE. (Mail order and distribution only.)

A thin black line

A THIN BLACK LINE, an exhibition selected by the artist Lubaina Himid, shows the work of a number of black women artists who see themselves as having to operate at the edges of the white, male dominated mainstream. Some of the artists address this issue specifically while others use metaphor and their personal heritage to explore their experience. Being female and black in this situation leads to a sense of alienation and confrontation with that mainstream - A Thin Black Line running through the exhibition spaces of the Institute of Contemporary Art. The show is made up of drawings, constructions, paintings, sculpture in various media and a huge photographic installation which examines how black women are seen and how they see themselves. Some of the artists will also create a new work for the Staircase space which will remain on view for six months. The show opened on November 14, 1985.

The artists taking part are Sutapa Biswas, Sonia Boyce, Jennifer Cowrie, Marlene Smith, Veronica Ryan, Claudette Johnson, Lubaina Himid, Chila Burman. Venue: ICI Concourse Gallery, Staircase and Upper Staircase spaces.

'Africa Event '85' will feature Hi- Life International and Dada Bukom the new exciting traditional group on Friday 22, November 1985 from 8pm-3am at the Africa Centre (38 King Street, London WC2).

ICA Gallery Cinema Theatre continues its events with dance and music. La La La Human Steps presents Human Sex from November 26-30, 1985. "Human Sex is a high energy, high risk, gravity-defying circus of live music and larger-than-life action. Men and women hurtle at each other through the air denouncing traditional concepts of movement and gender... It should be an interesting show worth seeing.

talking drums 1985-11-25 Ghana-CIA spy affair - swap deal in the making