Sunday, May 12, 2024

CONGO (KINSHASA) Batwa & Ekonda – Polyphonies Mongo – Ocora OCR 53

CONGO (KINSHASA)
Batwa & Ekonda – Polyphonies Mongo – Ocora OCR 53, recorded by Benoît Quersin 
in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970 (LP)#Congo #Kinshasa #Democratic Republic of the Congo # République démocratique du Congo #Central Africa ##Polyphony #Mongo #Polyphonies #Batwa #Ekonda #Benoît Quersin #ritual #ceremony #traditional #world #African music #musique Africaine #vinyl #MusicRepublic

#Congo #Kinshasa #Democratic Republic of the Congo # République démocratique du Congo #Central Africa ##Polyphony #Mongo #Polyphonies #Batwa #Ekonda #Benoît Quersin #ritual #ceremony #traditional #world #African music #musique Africaine #vinyl #MusicRepublic
#Congo #Kinshasa #Democratic Republic of the Congo # République démocratique du Congo #Central Africa ##Polyphony #Mongo #Polyphonies #Batwa #Ekonda #Benoît Quersin #ritual #ceremony #traditional #world #African music #musique Africaine #vinyl #MusicRepublic
#Congo #Kinshasa #Democratic Republic of the Congo # République démocratique du Congo #Central Africa ##Polyphony #Mongo #Polyphonies #Batwa #Ekonda #Benoît Quersin #ritual #ceremony #traditional #world #African music #musique Africaine #vinyl #MusicRepublic

This exquisite album of the polyphonic music of the Mongo people, released on the legendary first Ocora series, offers a glimpse into the rich collective traditional music of Central Africa, with rare recordings of the Ekonda people – a subgroup of the Mongo – and the Batwa Pygmy people, who live in close proximity to their Ekonda Bantu neighbors in the equatorial forest in the north of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 

Cet album magnifique de polyphonies Mongo de la légendaire première série Ocora offre un aperçu de la riche musique traditionnelle collective d'Afrique centrale, avec des enregistrements rares des Ekonda – un sous-groupe des Mongo – et du peuple pygmée Batwa, qui vivent à proximité de ses voisins bantous Ekonda dans la forêt équatoriale au nord de la République démocratique du Congo.

 

BATWA PEOPLE

 

A1 – Walekele Song 1 – A group of Batwa women from the village of Penda, accompanied by two rectangular patenge drums and an ikokole slit drum.

Here a Batwa woman named Babela becomes a walekele after the birth of her first child. According to tradition, she will now live in her own hut in the company of other women, separated from her husband for a two-year period. Becoming a walekele is an important rite of passage in a woman’s life. The first walekele song celebrates Babela’s return among the women of the community.

 

A2 – Walekele Song 2 – A group of Batwa women from the village of Penda.

This second walekele song highlights Babela’s response to the elder women: “Cry out and sing louder for me, your child.”

 

A3 – Walekele Song 3 – A group of Batwa women from the village of Penda.

This third walekele song announces that from this day Babela will be called Ikunda (“all is well”) and invites the entire village to come and see her dance.

 

EKONDA PEOPLE

 

A4 – Ekonda singing accompanied by an esanzo zither struck with a stick 1.

Here Mola Moilebe is a professional esanzo zither musician, singing proverbs and social commentary while a group of men sing in call-response. 

 

A5 – Ekonda singing accompanied by an esanzo zither struck with a stick 2.

 

A6 – "Esoya" Dance – Women of the village of Butela.

The Bobongo ballet, which includes music and brilliant acrobatic dancing, lasts 4 to 5 hours and consists of five precisely choreographed parts, including incantations, dancing, singing, pantomime, stories and proverbs. 

 

A7 – Female choral song – Women of Butela. 

The women of Butela excel in polyphonic singing with a wide repertoire, combining anecdotes, proverbs and current news.

 

BATWA PEOPLE


B1 – Batwa men’s polyphonic singing 1 from the village of Londo.

The lyrics here have various themes, but the main theme is about praising their group’s talent and the fact that they are called upon by their Ekonda neighbors to participate in important celebrations and rituals because they are the best dancers in the region.


B2 – Batwa men’s polyphonic singing 2 from the village of Londo.


 

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***

Benoît Quersin (1927-1992) was a Belgian bassist who moved to Paris in 1950 and performed with the jazz greats of the era, including Dizzy Gillespie, Sidney Bechet, Lionel Hampton, and Sarah Vaughan. In 1957 he opened the Blue Note jazz club in Brussels and began hosting popular jazz shows on Belgian public radio. His passion for the traditional music and cultures of West and Central Africa led to a career in ethnomusicology in 1967. Quersin made field recordings in Cameroon, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, including this excellent LP.


Photographs below are from
 African Reflections  Art from Northeastern Zaire by Enid Schildkrout and Curtis A. Keim, Washington/American Museum of Natural History, 1984, and Art Bakongo – Les Centres de Style by Raoul Lehuard, Arts d'Afrique Noire, 1989:


Logo man, Faradje, 1911:


MusicRepublic – CONGO (KINSHASA) Batwa & Ekonda – Polyphonies Mongo – Ocora OCR 53


Mangbetu woman, Okondo’s village, 1910:

MusicRepublic – CONGO (KINSHASA) Batwa & Ekonda – Polyphonies Mongo – Ocora OCR 53


Bembe man holding the statue of one of his ancestors, 

village of Kolo, 1926:


MusicRepublic – CONGO (KINSHASA) Batwa & Ekonda – Polyphonies Mongo – Ocora OCR 53


Yombe figure at the top of the handle of an object of power:


MusicRepublic – CONGO (KINSHASA) Batwa & Ekonda – Polyphonies Mongo – Ocora OCR 53


Commemorative effigy of a Yombe chief, 

wood, brass ring, glass, resin:


MusicRepublic – CONGO (KINSHASA) Batwa & Ekonda – Polyphonies Mongo – Ocora OCR 53


Solongo magic nkonde "nail fetish":


MusicRepublic – CONGO (KINSHASA) Batwa & Ekonda – Polyphonies Mongo – Ocora OCR 53

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2 comments:

  1. Wow, just wow! The release of "Batwa & Ekonda – Polyphonies Mongo" is an enriching addition to the world music discourse, preserving and celebrating the intricate and communal traditions of the Mongo people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This album, meticulously recorded by Benoît Quersin in 1970, not only captures the musical prowess of the Ekonda and Batwa communities but also encapsulates a vibrant cultural exchange between these groups. Each track serves as a conduit through which the listener is transported to the equatorial forests, experiencing firsthand the rich tapestry of sounds and stories that form the essence of their cultural identity.

    Quersin’s background in jazz and his subsequent immersion into ethnomusicology have equipped him with a unique lens through which he approached these recordings, ensuring that the vibrancy and depth of Congo’s musical heritage were captured with authenticity and respect. His work allows audiences far removed from these locales to appreciate the musical complexities and social nuances embedded in each song, from the ceremonial dances of the Ekonda to the polyphonic chants of the Batwa.

    This album not only stands as a testament to the musical heritage of the Congo but also exemplifies how music can act as a bridge between different cultures and eras, preserving the voices of communities that might otherwise fade into obscurity. For enthusiasts of traditional African music or scholars of ethnomusicology, "Batwa & Ekonda – Polyphonies Mongo" offers a precious glimpse into the living art of music that continues to resonate deeply within the human experience.

    Great post, keep them coming!

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  2. Once again I can't even begin to thank ya 4 yer shares!!!

    ReplyDelete