On Saturday December 11, I had tickets to a concert by Bonga, an Angolan musician. I must admit we had never heard of him, but that made us the exception in the audience. There was a lot of banter between Bonga and people who seemed to regard him a friend. Just about everyone had brought a camera or a mobile to take photos as a memento. There was dancing, the audience was invited to sing along, and the backup band looked like they had never had so much fun in their lives.
The music was an exciting mixture of influences, his voice was deep, a little raspy and very energetic. He admitted to a cold, and moved slowly between the numbers, but there was no sign of tiredness when he sang.
After the concert, I read more about him and found out that he has a past as an international athlete and freedom fighter. He spent time in Rotterdam and recorded his first album here in the early 70s during a period of exile from Portugal where he had been a member of the national football team. He had to flee Portugal when the police worked out that the footballer was also an activist for Angolan independence.
For more on Bonga including an interview and some short clips of his music, check out the Africa Beat podcasts from openair.fm at the School of Oriental and African Studies.
(On my Firefox browser, I had to click on the Download podcast link to start the audio clip.)