Every one of us has those moments (even if they extend over weeks and months) when we see life in dramatically different light when questions are clarified, when crooked paths are straightened and when the feeble gates that guard our carefully cultivated gardens are blown off the hinges. Sadly (thankfully, perhaps) these moments don’t come as frequently as we’d like but they forever change us.
One of those moments came during the latter months of 1994 when I lived in Angola, on Africa’s SW coast. I had signed up for a senior management position with an English NGO and had every intention that Angola would be my home for the next couple of years. But as those who have spent any time there can attest, Africa had other plans for me.
As soon as landed I was overcome with sadness. I thought I was over a recent break-up with a girl but my heart took the opportunity to burst apart again. I spent hours each day crying and cried myself to sleep after dark. The tears seemed to flow from an internal spring that had no intention of stopping. The tears washed away years of false ideas and delivered fatal cracks to many personal and well-built dams.
While this was happening, Angola was fighting fierce civil war. In my official capacity as an aid worker I travelled regularly across the front lines between government and rebel forces and at one point was caught up in wake of a major military offensive against the rebels. Just as the tears came to be unexpectedly and suddenly, in an instant I saw reality for what it was. Angola was a lost cause and nothing I or my agency or any of the other hundred or more international agencies could do would make a difference. While deploring the humanitarian tragedy and denouncing the combatant parties the western powers eagerly sold arms, mines and bombs to both the rebels and the government forces. NGOs of the sort I was working with were there to do the work of daily life that a corrupt government was all too happy to out-source while they waged their war.
It was a sick game and when I saw it in all its horror I recoiled and made plans to get out as quickly as I could. Yet, Angola, far from being a terrible memory, holds a special place in my heart. Without getting too soppy it is a sacred place for me, because it was in Angola that I was purified of so much dross and gained a new more true vision of life as it is.
In the nearly 2 decades since I’ve discovered African music and developed a real fondness of the sounds of Angola, especially those from the 1960s and 70’s a period in which popular music was a force of political change and revolution.
Herewith, for today’s offering, is a gorgeous double album of Angolan music from exactly that period. This is not to say that these are songs of revolt and political turmoil, but rather they were performed and ‘consumed’ during a time of great tumult. Music in the bairros of Luanda the capital was as much a means of escape from the oppression as it was a call to battle. Music in that period was fast developing and adjusting to new technologies such as electric guitars and recording studios that allowed traditional forms to meld into something altogether fresh and bursting with vibrant energy.
Enjoy these postcards from another time and place.
Track Listing: (1)
101. Luiz Visconde – Chofer De Praça
102. Artur Nunes – Mana
103. Artur Nunes – Zinha
104. Artur Nunes – Tia
105. Artur Nunes – Dito Zè
106. Artur Nunes – Kisua Ki Ngui Fua
107. Os Kiezos – Princeza Rita
108. Os Kiezos – Saudades De Luanda
109. Os Kiezos – Kughinguengambá
110. Os Kiezos – Muxima
111. Os Kiezos – Memorias De Lamartine
112. Urbano De Castro – Kia Lumingo
113. Urbano De Castro – Maria Da Horta
114. Urbano De Castro – N’vula
115. Tanga – Eme N’gongo Iami
116. Tony Von – N’hoca
117. Tony De Fumo – N’ginda
118. Oscar Neves – Tia Sessa
119. Oscar Neves – Mundanda
120. Oscar Neves – Mabelé
121. Oscar Neves – N’zambi
Track Listing: (2)
201. Paulino Pinheiro – Pachanga De Juventade
202. Paulo 9 – Genro Ciumento
203. Paulo 9 – Fazer Bem
204. Avozinho – Máma Divua Diame
205. Avozinho – Sakeça Mukongo
206. Os Bongos – Lena
207. Jovens Do Prendo – Solista Praguejado
208. Jovens Do Prendo – Semba Da Ilha
209. Jovens Do Prendo – Coio
210 África Merengue
212 N’gandala Ku Uganhala O Fuma
213 Mona Ku Jimbe Manheno
214 Pangui Yami Uafua
215 Kamba Ba Laumba
216 Ambula N’gui Zeka
217 Socana N’gam
218 Tino Mungo Yo Dimba Diobe
219 Kibela Kiame