In the fourth episode, we explore some love ballads from the continent. We begin the journey with Ringo’s Sondela, a lovely ballad that was a hit in Kenya and across Africa. This is followed by Kanda Bongoman’s groovy number My Lovely Elizabeth.
This is one of the songs that made Kanda Bongoman very popular. His rendition is awesome. Originally done by S.E. Rogie from Sierra Leone, the song has continued to be fresh and many renditions done to it. The Kanda Bongoman version is particularly popular in Kenya with the part that he talks of “becoming a drunkard, taking whisky, Johnny Walker, that walks all over his head,” sticking out.
Besides My Lovely Elizabeth, S.E. Rogie sung many other memorable songs the include Green Pumpkin. He remembered as the king of the “palm wine” music. It reminds me of Amos Tutuola’s book The Palm Wine Drinkard.
According to Wikipedia, “Rogie was a highlife and palm wine guitarist and singer from Sierra Leone. He was born in 1926 and began performing early, while supporting himself as a tailor. In the 1960s, he became a professional musician, singing in four languages. His hits include “Koneh Pehlawo”, “Go Easy with Me” and “My Lovely Elizabeth”. He formed a band called The Morning Stars in 1965. S.E. Rogers travelled to the United States in 1973. He moved to England in 1988. He died in 1994 shortly after recording his last album, Dead Men Don’t Smoke Marijuana.”
Kanda Bongoman’s My Lovely Elizabeth, is followed by a ballad done a phenomenal combination of African greats– Salif Keita from Mali and the late Cesaria Evora from Cape Verde. Yamore is without doubt a number that you want to listen to over and over.
Yamore is followed by Magwanani by Sakhile from South Africa. Last but not least, we visit the Cape Verde islands where we meet the lovely daughter of the island called Gabriela Mendes. Tradicao remains true to the lovely sounds of Cape Verde and I hope that you will be as awed as I was.
Welcome to Ngoma.