Aired live Feb. 4, 2015, and available here online
The theme of today’s show is “Yaka Tobina,” which means “let’s dance” in Lingala. I originally wanted to showcase some historic dances from the Congo, but I lied a bit. Limbisa ngai, bandeko! Forgive me, friends. That show will need much more research on my part.
On my last show, I mentioned how Congolese popular music has been recorded for 70 years, which means that there were a plethora of popular dances. I have over a thousand songs from the Congo, but I’m not sure if any of them were made for dances like the mambenga or the Apollo 11 of the 60s, or la griffe or the roboti robota of the 80s, to name just a few.
Minzoto Wella Wella doing the caneton à l’aisement dance!
But I do have a treat for you today, because I’ll be sharing songs from my workout list. You see, dancing is not only my joie de vivre but my exercise, and some of these tracks have made me dance my natural hips off. And speaking of hips—loketo in Lingala—many Congolese dances involve a lot of action in that area. It’s no wonder that soukous, the name given to Congolese pop music from the 80s on, derives from the French word for “to shake.” If you didn’t know, folks, twerking is nothing new.
Some people might think it’s vulgar to move their nether regions. And some might think dancing like that is an invitation for something far beyond dancing. But let me tell you, sometimes dancing is really just dancing!
Empire Bakuba dancer Emoro working his stuff as usual
I invite you to try it sometime if you haven’t already…NOW would be a good time to start. I hope these songs in my workout collection will make you get up and at least give your waist a little jiggle.
Just don’t hurt nobody! And if you grab a partner, behave! OK Jazz, my absolute favorite band, reminds us of that in their big hit, “Bina na ngai na Respect” (dance with me respectfully).
Next up is a song that I know for sure was based on a dance [Kiri Kiri by Docteur Nico Kassanda]. If anyone out there knows how to do this dance, or any of the old Congolese dances (besides the kwassa kwassa and ndombolo, which are easy to find online), please contact me, because I’d love to revive them!!
Mabina ya sika…the new dance, he says, yes, of 1968! Nico also had a dance called the merengue. This is inspired by the one and only merengue of the Dominican Republic. This trans-Atlantic musical dialogue fascinates me. Due to the slave trade, African people made a huge mark on the music of the Americas, and their legacy is present today in rumba, salsa, merengue, funk, hip-hop, calypso, reggae, zouk, and the list goes on. And it’s incredible to think that this music in turn made its way back to Africa to impact popular music there!
Zaïko Langa Langa showing off some hip action. Pesa position!! Zinga loketo!!
Now let’s switch it up a bit and turn to a song I love by Lipua Lipua, called “Youyou.” I believe there was a dance associated with this song because during the sebene at the end, the singer talks about how everybody loves it when their legs go like scissors—sizo, in French. Or at least, that’s MY translation!
If there was truly a dance called sizo, I’m dying to learn it. Anyone out there??
For more fun facts about other songs in this episode, listen here online.
Episode 2 Tracks:
Bina na Ngai na Respect – OK Jazz
Kiri Kiri Mabina ya Mboka – Docteur Nico & African Fiesta Sukisa
Merengue – OK Jazz
Youyou – Orchestre Lipua Lipua
Ba Soucis – Orchestre Minzoto Wella Wella
Mopaya Zoba – Orchestre Shama Shama
Loni – Papa Wemba & Viva la Musica
Solomo – Zaïko Langa Langa
Botika Ngai – L’Empire Bakuba