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Tuesday 5 October 2010

Return To Venda

As regular readers will know I have a deep and abiding love of the music of the Tsonga people. The Tsonga - or the Shangaan as they are sometimes called, after the largest sub-group - live primarily in the Limpopo Province in the north-east of South Africa, southern Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

A little over to the west - pretty much next door in fact - in northern Limpopo and southern Zimbabwe - you will find the Venda. If you believe the guide to the official languages of South Africa, the Venda are people very much after my own heart as "there is always something for the hard-working people to look forward to after working all day in the fields and that is music, a few drinks and dancing".

Until his untimely death in 2007 at the age of only 36, Zimbabwe-born Amon Mvula was one of the leading lights of the Venda music scene. Apparently he was a memorable live performer, the highlight of the set being the "bicycle dance", during which he spun a bicycle wheel on his hands, face and belt buckle. Quite why, who knows.

Here are a couple of tracks from his album "50/50", released the year he died. It was produced by Zozo (of Sangere Beat fame), and you can hear his influence quite clearly in the music.

"Thase" - Amon Mvula

"Mme Anga" - Amon Mvula

From Zozo to Dino. Here he is with a swingin' version of that old traditional song, "Venda Red Red Robin".

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