Tutaimba: we will sing.

For those of you who might be fortunate enough to come from Tanzania back in the day (yes I know its a big country and that not everyone knows everyone else), you might know or know of Alnoor Premji better known as Furahisha Moyo who was formerly of the store of the same name.. It turns out that not only has been a regular reader and lurker at the blog for a while now, he actually dropped me an email and asked me to share a tune with you.

This tune is a classic in more ways than one. It is one of those tracks that you hear about and think that you will never have a chance to enjoy. Mathieu Kuka was the composer of BB69, today’s tune that was huge for African Jazz in the 60s. ( buy here or here). According to the Googles ( you can find the translation here), the track is all about

“a man on his knees, bowed to the whims of a courtesan who enjoys the power that his body and its charms grant him without worrying that it creates havoc in this game of love when she triumphs.”

OK, a bit much me thinks.

Especially since listening to it makes me realize that the lyrical storyline is just another “girl, don’t keep me waiting” story. Don’t get me wrong, the singing is fantastic – hence the line at the start of the post – and the guitar licks in there are stupendous. But the story is fomulaic.

Still, a great little number. And the hopeful cheerfulness of it all drove it to number 1.

Mathieu went on to join Les Noirs who were big in Nairobi for a while especially with Sikiya Sauce, a track that has turned out to be Zim’s “Moby Dick” – the need to figure out whom the Sikiya Sauce catch-phrase belonged to and what it was all about. If anyone knows about the “Sikiya Sauce” shout out or anything about the original of the line, please drop us a comment and share.

But , as usual. I digress.

For a great piece on the role of Congolese music in the culture of the nation, please read this piece by Bob White of UC Santa Cruz

So, if you know Alnoor (or not), drop him a thank you comment.

Here is the track: no art for this one I am afraid. While I have a picture of African Jazz, it is from the musical giants era almost 20 years later in the early 80s when Manu Dibango, Docteur Nico, Roer Izeidi and Tabu Ley ruled.

East African rhumba circa 1970/1980 African Jazz – B.B.69

And then, there is the movie Snatch.

I must have watched this movie maybe 10, 11 times in theatre when it came out back at the turn of the millenium. And then another maybe 30 times on DVD. ( yes, 11 times. In the theatres. Thank you Linda, you must have set a record going with me the 4 or 5 times that you did especially considering that you were not into this deal as much as I was).

Best part of this awesome movie?

Mirwais – pumping out Disco science as things went ripe for various characters in the movie.

For Tyrone, it was all about being reeled in by Brick Top and his clique of nice guys lead by “what have I told you about thinking” Erroll for a chat with Brick Top’s little puppies.

For Turkish, it was all about losing a nice new caravan on top of the one he had already paid for and been cheated out of by Mickey and boys at the gypsy campsite.

The blend of hunter and hunted, life and death, flight or fight in this sequence in the movie coupled with the music is just an amazing combination. That is one tight tune. That high-pitched distortion lead on that track is just so so super bad. And the movie is full of astounding dialogue and characters who grip you and don’t let go.

Well, watch the scene for yourself.


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31 Responses

  1. Samuel says:

    Hi Steve,
    Some problem with African jazz B.B 69. It isn’t complete.

    Sorry about that, it should be fixed now.

    - Steve

  2. Mutunga says:

    @Steve,

    I noticed that “BB 69″ was uploaded in “Youtube” two months ago. How does Youtube get away with having millions (yes millions!) of video and audio files in a public space? I’ve just been wondering ….

  3. Esororo says:

    Mutunga,

    Youtube does not have any rights or liability to the videos and audio files you see, they only offer the stage for members.
    http://www.youtube.com/t/terms

  4. Mutunga says:

    @Esororo,

    Many thanks. I’ve read the small print. I don’t suppose I’ll become a Youtube member in the near future but such a large quantity of files in such a well-known domain is striking. Perhaps record labels are not keen on standing up to their members. And Youtube are cunning enough to take no liability. Now millions of surfers own ipods and Heaven knows what they do with them online. I guess leaving all those millions of files in Youtube is rather like leaving a pigeon in a cage full of hungry cats, and hoping that the law will rescue the pigeon …

  5. Esororo says:

    Mutunga,

    Record labels don’t have enough workforce to go through all the videos and the process to take it down is time consuming which will eat up their profits.

    @ Everyone,

    I have always wondered why most of the African bands use the word Jazz with their bands. The only reason I came up with was maybe an association with American Jazz for modernity.
    Maybe someone has any other take on these; I would like to hear your opinion.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz

  6. Lydia M says:

    @ Steve and Everyone

    I have been looking for Franklin Boukaka’s album “A Paris” in vain. Fortunately Le bucheron (Aye Africa) is posted here but I would love to get “Pont sur le Congo” and Les Immortales.
    Also if anyone knows how I can get a hold of the album, I’ll be grateful if you let me know how.
    Franklins life may have been short and tragic but he made a mark with his courage.

  7. Mutunga says:

    @Esororo,

    Well, I get it. Very cunning of those record labels. I suppose they get the pounds and are not worried about the pence. With all the talk on copyright, I was just beginning to consider Youtube a Bad Thing but now I see things in perspective. I guess the beloved portal’s effect on record companies is just as much as a mosquito bite on an elephant.

  8. Esororo says:

    Mutunga,

    Youtube is owned by google; chances are that most of the law firms’ members or those bosses in the record labels companies hold those google stocks in their investments. So you can imagine the dillema. Read the criticism section of youtube. That is how this companies protect themselves. Google has a big market share in the USA and world wide.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YouTube
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google

    @ Lydia,

    http://media.putfile.com/07—Pont-Sur-Le-Congo

    That is all I can get for now. Enjoy…

  9. Mutunga says:

    @Anyone who might know

    When Retroafric issued the “Endurance” Cd, they called the band “MangAlepa” rather than the “MangElepa” we had all known and loved. Was this a typing error or something more subtle? And who knows whether Captain Bwami Walumona, Kabila Kabanze, Kalenga Nzaasi, Bandi Banga Wa Tschiluba and the other “MangElepa” boys got any money from the “Endurance” venture?

    Mangelepa is still going strong as you can see here.

    Apparently, a new outfit named Soundafrica is actually offering re-issues/re-masters of some of the tracks. While they have a website, it does not inspire much (commercial) confidence.

    - Steve

  10. Lydia M says:

    @Esororo
    Thanks! I wasn’t able to access the link directly but I did paste it onto google search with success.
    May I join Kabuga in asking how to download from putfile.. I am unable to .. Asante.

    @Everyone

    Below is a link with a great playlist… some of which people have requested (Kanda ya nini..etc) I don’t think its possible to download from this site but it’s great listening!
    For those who like the modern music you can go to the BongoFlava Tab… some great music there too.

    http://www.jambonetwork.com/jn/zilipendwa/

  11. Mutunga says:

    Lydia M, Kabuga, Samuel and others
    You’ll have to record the track. Get the free sound editor called Audacity. You don’t have to install it: even the zipped version will do fine (unzip the files to one folder). Make sure you download the LAME mp3 encoder and save it in the same folder. Start Audacity and set the input channel to “Stereo Mixer”. Hit “Record” and click on the track you want to record. When it is finished you can cut the bits you don’t need and save a copy as an mp3 or wav file. You can also use Audacity to digitise your tapes (selecting “line in” as the input channel or “microphone” if your machine doesn’t have a “line in” slot). Audacity is a fun editor to use, but it is addictive, so be warned. I reckon recording online is just as controversial as recording from the radio. Good luck!

  12. Josephine says:

    Quick answer concerning downloading putfile.com files. Mutunga, I figured out that even easier than audacity (cos that LAMe thingy can be tricky, I simply use realplayer for saving files. You ask it to paly the file for you and save it into the library. From there you can transfer it to where you want to save it, eidt the music etc etc.
    On another note Mutunga, I read with keen interest what you had to say about languages, being a keen linguist myself. My main concern is the future of our own African languages. I’ve more than toyed with the idea of doing a Luhya/ English dictionary, and have very solid doctorate ideas pertaining to Luhya linguistics. One day when you come up towards France, we could have a chat about it, over a small glass of red wine.
    I’ll be headed home in four weeks time and I’m busy piecing info together, doing an itinerary etc, because I’d love to “tour” some parts of western kenya, I’ve never been to before, starting with the Kakamega forest.
    You folks talked of Blue Post hotel in Thika. it reminds me of Elspeth Huxley’s Flame Trees of Thika. I’ve got some family there too, and will certilnly stop over for a drink (Fanta barisi tu), in y’all honour!

  13. Mutunga says:

    @Josephine,

    Just wondering … Did you ever study at the University of Nairobi and were you ever taught by Dr Bilha Mwenesi and/or Prof. Lucia Omondi?
    Apart from an academic year in Research Methods with Prof. Lucia Omondi and Prof. Karega Mutahi, I’ve never really got into Linguistics proper. I’ve always been a pragmatic language student, studying at the feet of Dr Hans Schlemper, Dr Wanjiku Mwotia and Dr Bilha Mwenesi (they remember me as “Liti”).
    After Nairobi, I went to Oxford where the Dons convinced me to study Romance Philology and that was fascinating but somewhat alienating. Real life (marriage, children, the mortgage) caught up with me sooner than I’d planned so it hasn’t been easy to work full-time and continue formal studies. But I’ve never stopped learning languages!
    It’s good to know that you want to work on a Luhya dictionary. I gather that Harun Mwau (a.k.a “the boss”) has financed and published a Kikamba – English dictionary but I’m yet to get my hands on it.
    France is just next door to Italy, so there are very good chances that we can meet up.

    @Lydia M.
    Thank you for reporting that Jambonetwork playlist. I’ve just been there and discovered some wonderful gems!

  14. Josephine says:

    Mutunga since I’m at my desk, I’ll answer your query at once. I cut my teeth on linguistics at Maseno myself. That’s where I met one Obi Bigambo, now in Moi. I mention him because it’s with him that I intend to work on my Luhya linguistics project. He was in the same class with my older ndugu that you know at UoN. Were you in uni with them or later? Later on, I did more linguistics here in France, looking at English as a “foreign language”. Visiting the different schools of thought regarding linguistics starting with Chomsky. It was a strange feeling at first studying English in French, but I later thoroughly enjoyed the comparative aspect of it. I love stretching it further and making a parallel with our own vernaculars or again Swahili. I did my post grad on Luhya oral literature, and that’s why I’d love to further the whole project in that domain, but narrowing everything down to linguistics. Unlike you who’s doing un teaching, teaching in secondary school means lots of linguistic explanations (and not just empty grammar rules as was done in the past), explaining why the French would say something one way, and the Anglophones another way.
    Kudos for having secured a place in Oxford. What college did you go to? Last year I organised a school trip with my 5th form students to England for a week. We were based in Oxford. Thus we did a thorough visit of Christ Church college (I was going on about Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland whereas all they wanted to see was the hall where Harry Porter was shot!). Then of course we did an on foot tour seeing all the main colleges that are right in town. We saw the nearby cities afterwards S/Avon (you know who’s birthpalce), went down to London, and fished with the Cotswolds en route to Poole for our ferry back.
    I jump at every occasion of visiting a new part of the globe and of this old continent too. We’re indeed neighbours and will one day organise for some meeting up!
    Meanwhile I’ll understand what team you’re rooting for in the Euro 2008, and you know mine. May the best team win!

  15. Mutunga says:

    @Josephine,

    Some answers:

    (1) BOM was some years ahead of me at campus. I met him through Prof. Chris Wanjala (Literature). I don’t think I met the Luhya linguist you mention. I’m more familiar with the dons at main campus Nairobi.
    (2) My Oxford College was “Trinity”. It’s quite laid back and students have time for social life. That’s how I combined Romance languages with some real life romancing.
    (3) I have a love-hate relationship with Real Player. It managed to disable my old Dvd Player and burner and ever since I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole.
    Audacity is less daunting than it appears. As for the LAME encoder, you just have to tell the editor where the file “lame_enc.dll” is located (by ‘navigating’ to where your “ibmp3lame-3.97″ folder is). But you sound happy with it so that’s fine.
    (4) A curiosity – I’ve got “A first Luyia Grammar” By L.L. Appleby (CMS, Butere 1957) But I haven’t looked at it seriously. I’ve just noticed that Luhya words have something in common with Lingala vocab! (e.g “omukhasi” and “mwasi”). What a small planet!
    (5) My daughter Giulia (nearly 12) is a football fan. If your Italian is good (Her English is elementary), you can have a chat with her about the game when you come over here.
    We’re indeed neighbours and almost all my Lingala books have come from France.

  16. Lydia M says:

    @
    Mutunga and Josephine
    Thanks alot for the advice regarding downloading from putfile!

  17. Mutunga says:

    @Lydia M,

    I hope you’re already having the thrill of making your own mp3 files from audio on the web! It’s quite fun …

    By the way … What’s your connection with Njoro? I’m only asking because I knew a couple …. Captain Mutuku and his wife Karen, who had a home there.

  18. Lydia M says:

    @Mutunga

    Yes I am enjoying myself thoroughly! I am now dominating the computer at home getting my music on…. much to my kids suprise I can now teach them a thing or two!
    I grew up in Njoro and later taught at Egerton for 10+ years. I enjoyed it very much. I know of the Captain and family but not very well on a personal basis.

    BTW talking of language and culture if you go to Machakos.org you’ll see some of the things being done to maintain and promote Kikamba language and culture. I think its timely and admirable
    I think all the ethnic groups should have great concerns about the loss of language and culture …… I know they’re dynamic, but I would greatly mourn their loss.

  19. JW says:

    Ah, BB69. What an amazing song. I picked up Grand Kalle Et l’African Jazz Merveilles Du Passe Volume II for alisten, and this track totally jumped out at me. The guitar, the writing, truly awesome.

  20. JW says:

    In #5 above Esororo says:

    I have always wondered why most of the African bands use the word Jazz with their bands. The only reason I came up with was maybe an association with American Jazz for modernity.
    Maybe someone has any other take on these; I would like to hear your opinion.

    That’s pretty much it, per Rumba on the River: A History of the Popular Music of the Two Congos By Gary Stewart.

  21. Mutunga says:

    @Steve

    There’s a very good reason why Mangelepa can’t be a success in Nairobi today. Sometimes in the 1980s, Kabila Kabanze had some profound life-changing experience and became a born-again Christian. He and some of his fellow band members (also converted) formed a full-time band called “The Hallelujah Messengers”. Everybody knew this group as a Gospel band. A family friend even invited them to a fund-raising function for a close relative of mine and I was able to see Kabila Kabanze singing Christian songs – barely a few metres from me. We even shared a meal – “pilau” rice and other Swahili-cuisine items on the menu. As Kabila Kabanze sang “ingia ingia uwe mmoja wa kondoo!” I kept wishing he’d switch to “Oh Oh Mimba ee, mingai mikoti nzoto!”, but of course the good Christian man wouldn’t even think of it…
    To Nairobi people, Kabila Kabanze’s conversion was as convincing as that of Saul on the road to Damascus. And “Hallelujah Messengers” was a great success among born-again Christians. When I read the story of Mangelepa picking up their guitars and going back to their original variety of music, I couldn’t believe it. And I bet not many Nairobi people could take the switch if it happened. Hence Mangelepa’s commercial flop was sealed.

    @Lydia M.
    Karen Mutuku was a colleague of mine at Greensteds School, near Nakuru, where I taught briefly between 1990 and 1993. I remember she was in charge of the Reception class in the Infant School. And the Captain was a close friend of an elder brother. I haven’t been directly in touch with them since I left Greensteds. I’ll check out the website you’ve suggested.

  22. Samuel says:

    Mutunga and Josephine,
    What an ineresting conversation on languages! Josephine’s idea of Luyia English Dictionary is a great one. I don’t have any formal education in philology and learned English a bit late in life but I like comparing languages and knowing origines of words. I like one French dictionary, Le petit Robert, (the copy I have is actually a big one, not petit) because it gives origines of words and words in other european languages that share the same root with the French one.
    In african languages, I don’t know if there are any books with such information.
    I speak Kikuyu and I know some words in Lingala. I noted that for words noting body parts that are in pairs, hands, legs, eyes, ears… the plural words in Lingala and Kikuyu are very similar. But in singular they are different. For example, Legs, Lingala Makolo, Kikuyu Maguru (the u’s in this case are pronounces as the o,s in the lingala word, such that the only difference between the two words when pronounce is k and g) Now, in Singular, a leg in Kikuyu is Kuguru and in Lingala is Lokolo.
    An explanation to this observation is something I would like to read somewhere.
    You are the people to research and write on this.

    Some studies on languages that are close to establish which is older that the other and which might have given birth to the other would be interesting. For example, among the Luyia dialects, which is the oldest?

    And for the Bantu languages around Mt Kenya, how did it happen that where one group uses a labial sound (Mbigo, Kidneys), another group uses a guttural sound (Higo) for the same word? This is what our philologists (les philologues) in Nairobi should be telling us in their books, I think.

  23. Samuel says:

    Lydia, (machakos.org)
    The only other time that I heard of the kamba origin of the name kenya was in in primary school, in Std 4. His theory was that ‘kenia’, in Kikamba means (or meant in those days) that which shines (the snow on top of Mt kenya). Rebman and Krapf first saw Mt Kenya while in Ukamba. They asked what was the name of the mountain and they were told that it was kenia.
    Could this theory be plausible?

  24. Mutunga says:

    @Samuel

    Your approach to languages is the one I’d recommend. For any language you study, a thorough knowledge of grammar and vocabulary is indispensable. Over and above that, you need a good ear to have perfect pronunciation. And a good layman’s approach to comparing languages can take you a long way. Academic perspectives tend to be based on murky, conflicting theories and they hardly ever give you the answers you’re looking for. Stick to the solid ground like “Le Petit Robert” and “Le Bon Usage” and you’ll be fine. Unless you want to be a professor of Linguistics, in which case you’ll have some intellectual gymnastics to do!

  25. Madelle says:

    Excellent, excelent track, took me years away to my young days when my uncle freshly then ex college first job bought his first “bush” turntable, got the vinyl and had to listen to it EVERY evening.

    Thanks Steve, excellent work, if I just came to the blog for this one track, it would be worth it!!!

  26. samuel (samwiri) says:

    Steve and everyone else,
    Keep up the good job you are doing here. I never thought I will ever be able to hear this music again. I now have a dedicated timeslot every weekend when I lock myself away from the family in the study just to recharge my soul on these tunes. The knowlegde and wisdom on this blog is amazing and just like normal learning the discussions and links lead you to more and more musical treasures. Thanks everyone.

    Lydia, Asante sana for the Jambo network Link

    Samwiri (Ugandan in UK)

  27. Lydia M says:

    @ Samuel

    There are several versions written about the origins of the name Kenya. The one that seems to be more consistent suggests that the name comes from the Akamba word Kinyaa meaning ostrich after the appearance of the mountain which to the local people resembled the black and white feathers of the male ostrich. Apparently when Johan Ludwig Krapf and Johann Rebmann first saw the mountain in 1849 while travelling through Ukambani, they asked their Mkamba guide the name of the mountain and thats the answer he gave them.

  28. Josephine says:

    Mutunga, talking of “le bon usage”, I had this very old mzee at uni who specialised in Afrcan literature (official French translator of Wole Soyinka), he also taught us Version (French to English translation), in 3rd year. He swore by le bon usge” and so it’s one of my many grammar bibles in this house. One very basic thing I’ve had all my life since I started learning Frnehc in first form (about 23 years ago), is The Becherelle, which I got from the BAL (bureau d’action linguistique) in Nairobi. The Direcotor those days was one J-Paul Martin. he did an excellent job. From organising the Frnech drama festival to sending movies in French to schools. My first ever film in French was “Le mariage de Figaro”, which certialny was too hard for a first fomr kid!
    Samuel some things that hit me are for instance is the way in African languages, we attach the subject to the verb (I went = nilienda in Swahili, andhi in Luo, nadhie in Kikuyu, Ndatsire in Luhya)., making it one word where Indo-european languages have two words. Then of course the absence of the auxiliary in the interrogative form, only the intonation enables one to tell it’s affirmative or interrogative. So many little treasures I’d love to work on in our own languages. I’m glad to met co-disciples here.
    @ Lydia, I hope you’re managing to download your ziki
    Mutunga, I’ll hopefully one day see that book on luhya language certainly written by the CMS missionaries when they got to Kakamega

  29. Mutunga says:

    Josephine,

    Among grammar books, “Le Bon Usage” is unparalleled. I bought my copy at the Fnac bookshop in Paris in 1981 and it has proved to be excellent value for the 141 Francs and 40 centimes I paid for it. Perhaps I should invest in the latest edition …
    There are indeed many interesting issues to investigate in African languages. But the more I read books like Nurse & Philippson’s “The Bantu Languages” (Routledge 2003), the more I’m convinced that clear and straight answers are hard to come by. But I’m glad see that even as far back as 400 years ago, our languages were attracting European scholars …

  30. kabuga says:

    Mutunga,

    Could you be confusing Evani with Bwami?

    To my knowledge, Bwami is the one who got born again. Evani has done secular throu out unless i missed something.

    Bwami is saved todate.

    BTW – Joseph Kamaru is back doing secular.

  31. Mutunga says:

    @Kabuga,

    It’s very likely that I’ve mixed up Bwami and Evani. I guess Bwami was “Kaputeni Bwami Walumona” the slim soft spoken guy. I remember him giving a testimony and asserting that all music originally belonged to God and then Satan stole it. And I guess “Evani” was the big guy with that angelic voice which we know from “Walter”, “Mimba” etc. I think both were in Halleluja messengers, where “Evani” played keyboard and sang. You know what Kabuga, any one with a voice like that is bound to have something divine in them …. If I mix them up, it’s because I last saw them in 1990, but I’d go to their concert anytime, sacred or secular!

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