Africa: Hope Raisers, “Da Bomb”, Swahili Hip Hop, & Zimfest

In the 4 weeks since my last post on Global Voices, there has been lots of activity covered by bloggers in the African music scene. Here is a roundup of just a small part of that activity.

Music from Nairobi's slums at the 2007 World Social Forum

Pambuzuka, an African news magazine that works to promote social change in Africa has a post about a special broadcast of the conscious music group “Hope Raisers” from Nairobi's slums at the World Social Forum that was held in Nairobi in January 2007. The music on the podacast is from the Hope Raisers and Tanzanian poet, writer, and musician Freddy Macha.

Praye's “da bomb”

Oluniyi David Ajao carried a post at the end of January about Praye, a Ghanian high life group. When asked about the meaning of the groups’ name, Eugene Baah, one of the group members said:

Well, we chose the name Praye because this in English means a broom and since a broom is a tool for sweeping, we are also here to sweep the social vices through our music

And that they have. Praye first took West Africa by storm during a 2004 talent search contest, Nescafe African Reveleation, sponsored by Nescafe and then went on to win a Kora award, the African equivalent of a Grammy. Praye has a new album out in 2007 named “The Bomb” that has taken Ghanian airwaves by storm and is getting significant airplay. Their videos can be found on Youtube and their music can be purchased from the Big Ben Music label.

Zimbabwe in North America

In the meantime, there is exciting news for lovers of Zimbabwean music. writes that ZimFest 2007, a 3 day Zimbabwean music festival, is coming to Olympia, Washington in the summer of 2007.

The festival runs August 24, 25, and 26 and will be hosted at South Puget Sound Community College (incidentally the same location as the World Sacred Music Festival in February

While billing for the event is still being finalized, the event promises to be a treat to fans living in the Pacific Northwest .

The new kid on the block

On the other side of the North American continent, Calabash Music, New York city is home to a new website covering music from African, European and South American with a difference. Boasting Zimbabwean music legend Thomas Mapfumo as one of its staffers, the site aims at bringing Fair Trade practices to the music business.

Quoting the site's “About” page

Calabash Music™ is the ultimate global music destination giving easy access to all the great, but hard-to-find, music from around the world. We’re providing you with the most unique and broadest based international catalog – served the way you like it, via the Internet.

Calabash Music carries a new DRM-free sampler track every week for download for anyone looking to learn a little more about the music they sell.

Swahili hip hop has a new torch bearer

January has also been a month of multiple new releases including the internet release of the debut album from rapper Muki Garang whose mix tape can be found on his blog. The album is the standard mix of original work, skits and voice over instrumentals tracks but his original tracks are stand out pieces of production and vocal work covering the twin key social issues that face the Kenyan youth – unemployment and insecurity.

The obvious question of course is if Muki is any relation to the great Sudanese patriot John Garang. On a comment left by Muki at my blog at, Muki says

… i am not i son to the Late Hon. Dr. Col. John De Mabior Garang.I am a follower of his,one who identifies with the struggle he went through and sacrifice of all other endevours, inorder to emancipate oppressed southerners.I chose to identify with the struggle.My names originate from mythical work to trace my ancestry and to establish my aspirations as a leader.Hiphop is my guide through that part

You can find the rest of the mix tape at this link. Be sure to listen to the tracks Shida zetu za kawaida (Swahili for “Our everyday problems”) and Upuzi (Swahili for “nonsense”).

New blogs

SONY Canada has a new site covering world music including some great live performances from African artists that can be found at The Dusty Foot. Among the artists and groups featured in the last week include a coming tour of the group Exodus. Dusty Foot also has a blog . While the site's focus is on Somali culture, it covers material from all forms of the arts including poetry and art.

For the hip hop lovers looking to listen to something different, MsaaniXL and the Beneath the Surface (BNTS) crew have a new mix -Anga Banga State of Mind available for download. The collection which includes tracks by artists from Mozambique, Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, the UK and USA among others is definitely worth downloading and listening to for anyone who enjoys African hip hop or rap.

Finally, The Muso is a South African indie/music review blog that has been around since March 2006. Over the last couple of months, the site has reviewed several South African bands including Benguela, a jazz improvisation trio that is now shutting down, Dylan Von Wagner 2006 album Infinity, Clap your hands say yeah's Some Loud Thunder and unit r.'s eat this

In closing, lets all wish Matt over at Matsuli whose blog is a must-read for anyone interested in pre-1990 African music a Happy Birthday as his site turns one this week.

That's it for this roundup. See you all again real soon.


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