Friday, September 26, 2014


Bangwe Raft-Zither
9" x 12". various drawing materials on paper, 2014
That it's not all doom and gloom in the top 100 is proven by this humorous song sung by Pancras Mkwawa. It was recorded at Iringa in Tanganyika (Tanzania). Mkwawa belong to the appropriately named Hehe people that speak the Hehe language which is a Bantu language. Mkwawa is accompanied by his small son who taps a rhythm on the gourd that is the resonator for the zither that Mkwawa plays. The Hehe Song, recorded in 1950, is track #18 from Volume X of the by John Lomax compiled series The Columbia World Library of Folk and Primitive Music. The volume is called Bantu Music from British East Africa. The recordings on the record, as well as the liner notes and photographs, are by Hugh Tracey. The Bangwe raft-zither player in the illustration above is not Mkwawa but an anonymous individual from Nyasaland who plays on track #19. Pancras Mkwawa plays a Ligombo tube-zither on the Hehe Song. Of course I do not understand the lyrics but track #17, a Muganda dance song from Nyasaland, seems to contain much more humor to my ear than the Hehe Song does. Oh well.

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