In Nigeria – by far the most populous African nation – great wealth exists side by side with great poverty, inter-religious conflicts abound, unrest in the oil-rich Niger Delta region festers and infamous 419 scams give it a constant public-relations black eye. Despite the nation’s reputation for chaos, Nigerian people are proud of their 250 ethnic groups, their literary titans and of course their homegrown film industry (Nollywood!). They also rightly take pride in Nigerian music, an extraordinarily fluid mix of traditional African rhythms and Western jazz, funk, hip hop and soul. Want to hear the most powerful music in the world? Try the awe-inspiring Afrobeat of Fela Kuti. You'll never turn back.
“Bale Ile” is a multi-rhythmic West African drum song that originated in Nigeria as a rollicking example of a Yoruban genre known as fuji. (More.)
We sing "We Are Happy," a hello song from Uganda, to open every All Around This World class. This week we greet each other in Yoruba, singing, "Bawoni."
"He Motsoala" is a South African song that follows our dear mother from city to city as she tries to acquire us a marriage license. (More.)
“Thinantsha” is a powerful South African anti-Apartheid song that confirmed the commitment of the youth to one day bring about justice. (More.)
"Tulo Tulo" is a lovely lullaby from Uganda. Extra kudos to you if you sing it along with me in the original Luganda language. (More.)
A LITTLE MORE
Fuji is a Nigerian genre that arose as a popular manifestation of the improvised “Were music” Muslims play in Nigeria’s Yoruba areas to wake neighbors for fasting during Ramadan. Fuji started in the 1960s when “ajiwere” bands started to add elements of many Nigerian genres to their up-all-night musical performances. Today the most popular fuji music, like that of Adewale Ayuba, is upbeat, danceable and uses electronic instruments. Watch Ayuba in action in an early, enthusiastic, blaring black and white video here.