#10 of #10AfricanClassics
Shauri Yako - Orchestra Super Mazembe (Kenya)
I’ll be counting down ten great African songs that you might not have heard. In this area, I bow to the knowledge of Charles Leonard (@JCharlesLeonard), who knows infinitely more about this area than I do. So he’ll choose 7, I’ll choose 3. Even though the ratio of knowledge is more like 10 – 0 in his favour.
First up, from Kenya, the Orchestra Super Mazembe. Formed in the then-Zaire in 1967, as Super Vox, the band changed its name in 1974. Super Mazembe is apparently Lingala for bulldozer, because the band bragged that their music had the same earthmoving effect.
According to National Geographic, “the group quickly found a willing audience and took the country by storm. They popularized their own dance style, mushosho, as they vied for popularity with rival groups Les Mangelepa, Les Kinois, Les Wanyika and Orchestra Virunga. Many bands were tied to specific venues by resident-band contracts, but this was not the case with Mazembe, who crisscrossed the country and also toured in Tanzania and Uganda setting audiences alight wherever they appeared. They became a household name. According to a Nairobi newspaper the group was so popular that “agricultural shows and top hotels scrambled to book them”. From the mid-1980s the group was beset with problems and vanished from the music scene. “
This is their most popular song, a cover originally performed by Nguashi Ntimbo and Festival Du Zaire. (Info from Wikipedia and National Geographic.)