Malaika, Bongo Maffin lead UK Youth Day celebrations


Award-winning Afro-pop group Malaika troop into the UK later this week for Saturday’s head-to-head clash with Bongo Maffin at London’s Stratford Rex.

Malaika, fresh from winning the Best African Pop Group at the South African Music Awards (SAMAs), will share the stage with Bongo Maffin who shot to fame with the monster hit, Thath’Isgubhu.

The sound of the first generation of South Africans unshackled from the spectre of apartheid is captured in the music of Bongo Maffin, one of the most popular groups in South Africa today, leading kwaito music into the future.

Kwaito sprung up in the charged atmosphere of dance club floors in the mist of a battle against the apartheid regime. With apartheid successfully dismantled, South African youth in the mid 90’s began to embrace pan-national styles such as house, reggae and rap.

With the pride of an emerging nation, however, they made the styles their own. Kwaito soon became the soundtrack for a new generation with its own ideas, fashions and lifestyle.

Bongo Maffin started as a project of top South African DJ Oscar ‘Oskido’ Mdlongwa. Zimbabweans identify with Anesu, variously known as Jah Seed or Appleseed. He was born and raised in Zimbabwe, but brings a distinct reggae flavour to the group’s music. Stoan began his musical career as a backing singer for kwaito star, Thebe. Thandiswa Mazwai, joined in 1997 after working with them as a backup singer and studio musician.

The group’s expansive and spiritual take on the dance-oriented genre has been compared to the Fugees’ broadening of American hip-hop. The comparison is reinforced even more by Thandwisa’s soulful crooning, which is likely to bring to mind the Fugees’ Lauryn Hill. Their common passion for music has had a synergistic effect on their collective creativity. They sing in English, at least three South African languages and Shona.

Kurauone, their Shona song from their latest album, has revitalised the group. The song is characterised by a pulsating bass overlaid with strings punctuating and accompanying the riffs in sustained and glissandi gestures. The track revels in sheer disco bliss, remaining in the same catchy mode throughout and the bass line underpins the instrumental and vocal lines with a magnetic pull that makes dance irresistible.

The rhetoric of this track is displayed by Jah Seed’s command. Any syntactical sense therefore becomes a subliminal as the listener surrenders to the power of the beat.

The undisputed queen of vocals and one of South Africa’s biggest female stars of recent years, Thandiswa has promised fireworks for her UK fans.

She said: “l will perform solo some of my old and new songs on the night.”

Squeaky clean Malaika have recently been leading South African musicians and artists in protesting against and denouncing xenophobic killings which claimed the lives of 62 foreigners and left up to 100 000 displaced.

The group donated food and organised shelter for the displaced foreigners using their own money. After the London show, they are scheduled to perform a number of shows in South Africa promoting unity and also fundraising for the victims of xenophobia.

They have been commended by former South African President Nelson Mandela for their kindness and sympathy to the victims. Zimbabweans in Ireland have invited the group to perform in Ireland on Friday, June 13, before their London gig to show their solidarity.

Malaika’s lead vocalist Matsediso Mholo said: “Zimbabwe and South Africa is one, there should be no border between the two countries. Problems for Zimbabwe are problems for South Africa. We are brothers and sisters should remain united as ever, l love Zimbabwe.”

Malaika is truly representing Africa in terms of their music, stage act and image. Their latest release, Sekunjalo, is bursting to the seams with home-grown sounds. The group gets full marks for hatching a series of melodies that will cement their growing international appeal. Soaring together in unison, their voices are brimming with infectious joy.

Sue Ncube, a spokeswoman for Icons of Africa, the promoters, said: “Because of their busy schedule, the two groups are only available for one show in London.”

After their performance in the UK, Bongo Maffin head straight to Dakar, Senegal for a number of gigs.

Here a video for those of you who have forgot how good Malaika are
Malaika – Destiny
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Bongo Maffin and Malaika will be performing at Stratford Rex,London (E15) on Saturday the 14th of June.Tickets cost £20 in advance.