Saturday, September 11, 2010

Uma tarde ao som de Ngola Ritmos

Sou muito jovem para perceber, para realmente entender e sentir, o verdadeiro impacto dos Ngola Ritmos. Restam-me somente as historias dos mais-velhos e um ou outro artigo, uma ou outra entrevista que me permite ter uma ideia da força cultural que foi este grupo. Dizem os kotas que quando os Ngola Ritmos apareceram a cantarem em kimbundo, ainda antes de 1950, eram muitas as caras envergonhadas, tão desesperados estávamos nos para abraçar a cultura portuguesa em detrimento da nossa. Mas foram os Ngola Ritmos um dos primeiros a ter orgulho na sua identidade angolana, ou melhor, a criar esta ideia que existe sim uma identidade angolana, diferente e independente da identidade portuguesa. Conta Amadeu Amorim, integrante dos Ngola Ritmos, que os ventos independentistas que começaram a soprar em Luanda tiveram a sua génesis no Bairro Operário, que por sinal também era o ‘palco principal’ deste grupo de música.

Houve um tempo em que encontrar músicas dos Ngola Ritmos era mesmo difícil. Mas agora graças a internet pelo menos já se pode recuperar algumas sonoridades a muito tempo perdidas. É que em Angola ainda não há um real interesse em salvaguardar e proteger o nosso património musical, as nossas raízes. Ainda não somos um Cabo Verde ou um Mali no que toca a este aspecto. E muitas das vezes são os estrangeiros a fazer isto por nós, a ir vasculhar nas caves da RNA para minar tesouros da musica angolana para depois lançar as mesmas no mercado internacional. Falta-nos visão, talvez. Respeito pela história nacional.

O pouco que sei dos Ngola Ritmos, fui buscar de alguém que sabe muito mais que eu. É no blog do Ikono onde é possível descarregar discos inteiros dos Ngola Ritmos, e é lá também onde encontrei este link a uma interessante entrevista ao Senhor Amadeu Amorim, integrante dos Ngola Ritmos. Aconselho vivamente a sua leitura.

Deixo-vos com clássicos dos Ngola Ritmos que escuto nesta tarde ensolarada. Sons de uma Angola antiga, uma Angola que ainda não era ‘livre e independente’. Sons doutros tempos, mas que até hoje ainda são cantados por uma grande quantidade de músicos nacionais. Fiquem com Xikela, Dya Ngo We, por sinal uma das minhas preferidas, e a sempre clássica Muxima.

Xikela
Dya Ngo We
Muxima

An afternoon listening to Ngola Ritmos

I’m too young to fully understand, to truly feel, the impact that Ngola Ritmos had in Angolan music, identity, and popular culture. All I have are stories from the elders and an article or two, an old interview perhaps, that allows me to begin to grasp the cultural force that was Ngola Ritmos. The grownups and grandparents say that when Ngola Ritmos first appeared, in the late 1940s/early 1950s, they were shunned by many because of their insistence in singing in the national dialect Kimbundu in detriment of Portuguese. They were among the first to feel proud of their Angolan identity, the first to assume that such an identity even exists, in the face of constant and oppressive pressure to become part of the Portuguese national fabric. Amadeu Amorim, member of the band, says that they played an integral part in the first stirrings of independence in Angola, and most of its members were part of the militant nationalist movements.

One of the best accounts I’ve read about the Ngola Ritmos is on their Wikipedia page, and apparently a Miss Marissa J. Moorman wrote it. Take a look:

"Liceu Vieira Dias, Domingos Van-Dúnem, Mário da Silva Araújo, Manuel dos Passos and Nino Ndongo created around 1947 the Ngola Ritmos band, in order to assert their Angolan identity. They sung kimbundu music with guitar and small percussion. In the 1950s, the band comprised Liceu, Nino, Amadeu Amorim, José Maria, Euclides Fontes Pereira, José Cordeira, Lourdes Van-Dúnem and Belita Palma. Their lamentos were inspired by the daily chronicles or funeral laments sung by bessangana women and their sembas by popular dances. Carlitos Vieira Dias once said: "The semba is an adaptation of the kazukuta rhythm. My father transposed the kimbundu rhythms for the guitar. He knew European, Portuguese and Brazilian music. He composed in the minor mode, notably the lamentos". Zé Maria quote of Liceu: ”He was a master. He was the leader of Ngola Ritmos and gave us the matrix for musical conception. His mom and mine acted as our judges. When they told us it wasn’t good enough, we had to go back and rehearse some more“. Ngola Ritmos created a style that would inspire generations of musicians. The lead guitar introduced the theme and often intervened in counterpoint to the voice. The second guitar ensured the rhythmic frame, the bass guitar (six-stringed at the time) marked the beat, almost like a percussion, while the drum and dikanza (scraped instrument) backed up the ensemble. Singing was inspired by popular traditions, the chorus answering the lead voice. While such songs as Mbiri Mbiri, Kolonial, Palamé or Muxima have been covered by numerous singers, recordings by Ngola Ritmos are very rare. Muxima and Django Ué were recorded in Luanda. Most of the members of Ngola Ritmos were nationalist militants, Liceu, a founding member of the MPLA liberation movement and Amadeu were arrested in 1959 and deported to the Tarrafal prison in Cape Verde, to return only ten years later. Nevertheless, the band lasted until the late sixties, recording the song Nzage in Lisbon. The heritage of Ngola Ritmos is not only a music genre. It is also a state of mind, an attitude."

I’ll leave you with a couple of Ngola Ritmos songs that I’m listening to on this sunny afternoon. Stay with Xikela, Dya Ngo We, one of my favorite jams of theirs, and the always classical Muxima. Songs that have been covered by a multitude of Angolan singers of later generations. Ikonoklasta’s blog is another depository of Ngola Ritmos albums…give it a visit in case you want more.

3 comments:

Xuna said...

It's so crazy... although this is way past my fathers era, Ngola Ritmos was passed onto him by his father, and I remember those quiet Sundays he used to play them.
Kimbundo today in Angola (particularly Luanda)is dying.
by the way, Love your blog! it gives British Born Angolan's like myself a chance to keep up to date with the music and culture of our countries. :D

Claudio Silva said...

Obrigado Xuna, I hope to see you back here often!

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