Just when I become too proud of my music collection (which is amazingly diverse and, well, just amazing!) and of my increasing knowledge of music, especially African music, I am humbled by a new discovery. Now, that’s a misnomer, because as a rule I have discovered that music in question just as much as Livingstone discovered the Falls that he had the nerve to name after an English queen who had never, nor would ever, set eyes on them. They, the Falls and Makame’s music had – always – already been there. A known fact as there can be one.
To cut things short: listen in to Smiles Mandla Makama! He combines Swaziland/eSwatini traditions with Hindu spirituality and, why not, West African instrumentation, unless he uses the Smilophone (a combination of a number of makhoyanes) that he created. No end to creativity, he!?
I am getting addicted to The Source (1996), on which Makama’s chanting (that’s an appropriate term, I find) and kora playing dominate. If you need comparisons, the late Geoffrey Oryema (Uganda) and the likewise late Ayub Ogada (Kenya) come to mind.
Here’s a great article on him and his music.