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Origines Des Musique: Maskanda
“…Nathi nizokwakha izibhedlela, nakhe namaClinics, Nemigwaqo ayikho, benzani abantu bakithi eSouth Africa…”

“…You said that you’ll build hospitals and clinics, but that has not been done You also promised to do road construction but we still have to walk long distances on bad roads…”

(An extract from the album: Amakhansela)

Phuzekhemisi, Amashayina Amahle, Shiyani Ngcobo, Ikhansela, Shwi No Mtekhala are not terminologies from some outwardly space, but are names of some of the most profound musicians of South Africa which flickered on my television screen while watching a programme at NGC on African tribes and their music. Not that I understood much but yes, it somewhat made my mind transcend to the Cape of Good Hope.

Phuzakhemisi, Amashayina Amahle, Shiyani Ngcobo, Ikhansela, and Shwi No Mtekhala all belong to the Maskanda musical form. This form is an influential part of the Zulu folk genre. Zulu, the South African tribal group ~ which was initially a minor clan now ~ has a population of about 10 million in the main province of South Africa, KwaZulu Natal. Some of them are also prevalent in the urban areas of South Africa like Zimbabwe, Zambia and also Mozambique.

Zulu synonyms ‘heaven’ or ‘sky’ in the native Bantu language, and the language “isiZulu” played a major role in the 18th and 20th centuries. They are now evenly spread out in both the urban and the rural areas. Their singing styles were specifically meant to enable the communication between the spiritual forces and guides and even their own emotions. This style is highly evolved and concerns spiritual revelation. Maskanda (or Maskandi) is one of the most important sub-genres of this form.

Maskanda, the upbeat dance-musical genre narrates the hardships and migrancy of the Zulus at the turn of the 20th century. This intimate, conservational musical form ideally sings songs of Zulu praise poetry, better known as “izibongo” as well as narrates stories of everyday life on love or a woman, or about the arguments between people, or even on politics.

This musical form was mainly sung by a man travelling many destinations with his hand-made guitar, who sang stories of his life and his journey. For a very long time, the form was largely dominated by the male gender; however, in current times, women too have become equally predominant in this genre.

You can read the rest of our special feature Origines Des Musique: Maskanda in the April 2007 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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