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Icon of Angolan music Bonga is on first-name terms with the stars and has given true meaning to the concept (albeit multifaceted) of ‘Africanness’. From
He was born José Adelino Barcelo de Carvalho in Kipri in 1943, but changed his name to Bonga Kuenda when he reached his teens, already showing a keen awareness of the realities of Portuguese colonialism. He learned about music from his father, a fisherman and accordionist, and rapidly grasped its potential impact when linked to the political aspirations of his generation and an inexhaustible melancholic vein.
As he is always ready to explain, he never faltered in his principles. “All Angolan culture was under Portuguese domination. Traditional languages were banned, as was African music. We had no weapons to fight with, so we organised cultural resistance, especially by forming folk groups, including Kissueia, my first band. With Kissueia, I sang songs that revived ancestral African forms and whose lyrics clearly referred to the troubled situation at the time, poverty, colonial violence and latent revolt.”
In the mid-Sixties, Bonga’s athletic talents took him to
In 1972, he recorded a harrowing first album soberly entitled “
His wanderlust then took him to Paris, where he recorded a second album that proved just as important as the first - “Angola
It was not until 2000 that he signed with Lusafrica and immediately released the irresistible Mulemba Xangola, sung as a duet with Lura. The song dealt with disturbingly-topical, universal themes. In a way, with its ambience of national reconciliation, this record marked the end of the Angolan Civil War. Three more equally cosmopolitan and danceable albums formulating strong identity-related demands - “Kaxexe” in 2003, “Maiorais” in 2005 and “Bairro” in 2008 - added the final touch to the legend of a singer in perpetual motion.
Bonga is unstoppable on stage, and also when he talks about his country with stars in his eyes and a tremor in his warm, hoarse voice. Although he has been living in
A collection of classics and previously-unreleased (Dikanga), rare (Agua Rara, De Maos A Abanar) and remixed (Kapakiao) songs, this eighteen-track compilation covers the legacy of a free man and a great singer. Breaking down physical and musical frontiers with songs and music that appeal to the majority, Bonga is the champion of a sublimated ‘Africanness’ and the voice of a modern, peaceful
Other albums by same artist