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Showing posts with label hidden gems. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hidden gems. Show all posts

Monday, April 10, 2023

The Hidden Gems of African Music: Exploring Lesser-Known Genres and Instruments

For centuries, Africa has been a cradle of rich musical heritage, with its vibrant rhythms and diverse styles captivating audiences worldwide. Yet, beyond the familiar sounds of Afrobeat, Highlife, and Soukous, there exists a treasure trove of lesser-known genres and instruments that deserve their moment in the spotlight. Let's embark on a journey to uncover these hidden gems, and in doing so, expand our understanding of Africa's musical landscape.

Gqom: South Africa's Hypnotic Dance Music

Hailing from the townships of Durban, Gqom (pronounced "gome") is a raw, minimalist dance music genre that has taken the underground scene by storm. Built on powerful basslines, syncopated rhythms, and repetitive vocal chants, Gqom showcases a fresh, futuristic sound that's rapidly gaining global attention.

Tigrigna Music: Eritrea's Enchanting Melodies

The Tigrigna music of Eritrea is characterized by its mesmerizing melodies, intricate rhythms, and poetic lyrics. Performed in the Tigrigna language, this genre showcases the cultural richness of the Eritrean highlands, with songs often expressing themes of love, history, and social issues. The kebero, a double-headed drum, and the krar, a lyre-like stringed instrument, provide the genre's signature sound.

Gnawa: Morocco's Spiritual Soundscape

Gnawa music, originating from the mystical Sufi brotherhoods of Morocco, is a deeply spiritual genre that combines trance-inducing rhythms with heartfelt chants. The guembri, a three-stringed bass lute, and the krakebs, metal castanets, form the backbone of Gnawa's hypnotic sound, which has been known to inspire healing and spiritual connection.

Chimurenga: Zimbabwe's Music of Resistance

Chimurenga, meaning "struggle" in the Shona language, is a politically charged genre that emerged during Zimbabwe's fight for independence. With lyrics that speak of resistance and empowerment, Chimurenga artists use traditional instruments like the mbira and the marimba, alongside modern electric guitars and keyboards, to create a sound that resonates with the nation's spirit of resilience.

Kora Music: West Africa's Harp-Like Harmonies

The kora, a 21-stringed harp-lute, is the centerpiece of a mesmerizing genre that has captivated West African audiences for centuries. Originating from the Mandinka people, kora music is characterized by its intricate melodies and captivating improvisations, with master players known as griots weaving tales of history, culture, and wisdom through their music.


These hidden gems of African music showcase the diversity, complexity, and creativity of the continent's rich musical traditions. By exploring these lesser-known genres and instruments, we not only expand our musical horizons but also deepen our appreciation for the cultural tapestry that is Africa. So, the next time you're searching for a new musical adventure, don't forget to give these hidden gems a listen!

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Rediscovering African History: Highlighting the Unsung Heroes and Hidden Gems of Africa's Past

The importance of African history cannot be overstated. From the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Ethiopia to the great empires of West Africa, the continent has a rich and complex past that has influenced the world in countless ways. Unfortunately, much of this history is overlooked or undervalued in mainstream narratives. In this blog, we will highlight some of the unsung heroes and hidden gems of Africa's past, with the aim of celebrating and rediscovering this important history.

Unsung Heroes

When we think of African historical figures, certain names may come to mind - Nelson Mandela, Haile Selassie, and Kwame Nkrumah, to name a few. However, there are countless other individuals who have made significant contributions to their societies and to the world at large, but who are often overlooked.

One example is Mansa Musa, the 14th-century ruler of the Mali Empire. Musa is widely regarded as one of the richest people in history, thanks to his immense wealth and generosity. He is said to have distributed so much gold during his famous hajj to Mecca that the price of the precious metal plummeted for years afterward.

Another unsung hero is Queen Nzinga, a 17th-century ruler of the Ndongo and Matamba kingdoms in present-day Angola. Nzinga is remembered for her military tactics, diplomatic prowess, and fierce resistance against Portuguese colonizers. She is often cited as an inspiration for contemporary African feminists.

Finally, Shaka Zulu is a figure who is sometimes portrayed as a bloodthirsty warrior, but who was also a skilled politician and strategist. Zulu united numerous clans in what is now South Africa and transformed them into a formidable military force. He is also credited with inventing the "bull horn" formation, which was later used by European armies.

Hidden Gems

In addition to these unsung heroes, there are also many aspects of African history that are often overlooked or undervalued. For example, the ancient city of Timbuktu was once a center of learning and scholarship, with thousands of manuscripts housed in its libraries. Great Zimbabwe ruins in present-day Zimbabwe are a testament to the architectural skill and political power of the people who built them. And the rock churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia are a marvel of engineering and religious devotion.

These sites, and many others like them, provide valuable insights into African history and culture. They challenge our assumptions and expand our understanding of what was possible in precolonial Africa. Yet, they are often not given the recognition or protection they deserve.

Challenges to Rediscovering African History

Rediscovering African history is not without its challenges. One of the main obstacles is the legacy of colonialism. European powers often portrayed Africa as a "dark" and "uncivilized" continent, perpetuating myths and stereotypes that continue to influence our perceptions today. This has led to a lack of investment in African history, as well as a reluctance to take African sources seriously.

Another challenge is limited resources. Many African countries struggle with poverty and political instability, which can make it difficult to preserve historical sites and artifacts. In some cases, looting and destruction have occurred due to a lack of resources and security.

Finally, there needs to be more interest from mainstream academia. African history is still often seen as a niche field, with few opportunities for funding or career advancement. This can make it difficult for scholars to devote the time and energy necessary to fully uncover and analyze African history.


Despite these challenges, there is a growing interest in rediscovering African history. By highlighting unsung heroes and hidden gems, we can better understand the continent's past and its place in the world. We can also challenge the stereotypes and prejudices that continue to plague our perceptions of Africa today.

We encourage readers to continue learning about African history and spreading awareness of its importance. By doing so, we can ensure that the unsung heroes and hidden are never forgotten.

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