IT was Hugh Masekela’s time with Fela Kuti that this album came to be. The latter wasn’t part of Introducing Hedzoleh Soundz, but was the one who introduced Masekela to Ghanaian ensemble Hedzoleh Soundz.
Spending a number of years in America and parts of Europe, Masekela missed home but couldn’t come back to South Africa because he’d be arrested by the apartheid government for his politically-charged music and his work as an activist. But before coming down south in Botswana where he was just a border away from Mzansi, he spent some time in West and Central Africa. Like Miriam Makeba, he was warmly received in a number of African states one of those being Nigeria, where he spent a lot of time with King Fela whose career and nights at the iconic Afrika Shrine were at its peak.
Along the stupendous strands of marijuana the two shared at Kalakuta Republic, Masekela and Fela shared anecdotes, experiences and music-which resulted in Masekela working with the indigenous band from Accra. “I found a certain vitality in Afrobeat. Playing with Hedzoleh Soundz was like being on a big fat cloud. You couldn’t fall of,” said Masekela.
The eight track album was released in 1973 and it was largely written by the Hedzoleh Soundz, bar Languta. This album stands as one of my favourite works of all time. It is unequivocally traditional thanks to the organic African drums, merged with the melodies of the Akan and Ewe people. Yet very jazzy with a punch of funk. It was universal music, too sick to be categorized by a mere genre.
The track Rekpete will have you feeling like you’re in the Congo doing a Kwassa Kwassa. On Adade, Masekela’s trumpet is like a jet-ski, gliding at open sea which is the combination of indigenous instruments, harmonies and melodies. I don’t know why African filmmakers haven’t used Patience in any of our African stories. It’s a song that would accommodate some of the best scenes.
Nye Tamo Ame reminds me of migrate workers, African soccer players or young men at initiation school. It’s the harmony and spirited voices of men singing together. It’s inspiringly beautiful.
It’s said in isiZulu that Uk’hamba Uk’bona and Masekela’s travels to the West of the continent opened his eye to gems in Ghana, which has opened our eyes to Africa’s vast richness.
Sjava became the first South African musician to win the BET Viewer’s Choice Award last night at the international awards ceremony hosted at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles California, US.
In 2016 South African DJ and producer Black Coffee won the Best International Act, which last night was won by Nigeria’s Davido. A number of South African artists have been nominated in the Viewer’s Choice Award category in the past, but failed to get enough fan votes.
The difference between the two categories is that Sjava’s award was voted for by fans using a designated hashtag for each artist on BET.com, Tiwitter and Instagram. With his #IPICSJAVA18 hashtag, the artist from KZN trumped, among others, UK singing sensation Iamddb, France’s Prince Waly and Sik-K from South Korea.
Felicitations have been pouring in for Sjava from fans all over. Maps Maponyane tweeted “Siyak’bongela Sjava.” While Cassper Nyovest who lost to Davido, tweeted “Congratulations to King Sjava for the win. SA Hip Hop doing big shit.”
Unlike Best International Act category which was handed out to Davido during the main event, Sjava was presented with his gong in a ceremony held just before the main one.
Draped in isiZulu attire; Sjava wore Umqele on his head, Amambatha covering his shoulders and ibheshu, icansi in hand and to top it off he walked in bare foot. The look was authentic and flamboyant enough for him to be on the main stage with the rest of the acts. He did the country and the rest of Africa proud in taking the award and in the manner in which he did.