A Portrait of Marimba Masters from Pondo Land


Amampondo – An Image Of Africa – Live In Cape Town  – Umfanekiso we Afrika (Mountain Records, 2006)

This enthralling DVD by South African group Amampondo reveals a fascinating story about urban African musicians who returned to their ancestral roots. The majority of the members of Amampondo are were born in the coastal city of Langa. It was there that they decided to research the musical roots of their forefathers. The majority of the ancestors were originally from Pondo Land and thus the name Amampondo: the people of Pondo Land.

As the DVD reveals, the musicians have gone beyond South African music. In their travels throughout Africa, they have acquired new songs and instruments. 

The first part of the video is a live performance, where you can enjoy the beautiful harmony of up to four marimbas played simultaneously. Each marimba us tuned differently and varies in size. The marimbas used are: tenor marimba, bass marimba, double bass marimba, and soprano marimba. in addition, the group uses large ancestral drums, congas and other percussion instruments. The percussionists are accompanied by four singers and dancers.

Dressed in traditional outfits, with beautiful body paint, Amampondo introduces amazing instruments throughout the live concert, like the enormous Ugandan akadinda, a xylophone that is played by four musicians on stage, creating a trance-like experience. 

Other instruments used are a flute from Botswana, the mouth bow, traditionally played by mothers. as a tribute, Amampondo invited three female elders to sing and play. There are also animal horns and jew’s harp (played by the female elders).

The second part of the DVD is a great documentary about Amampondo, showing their hometown, interviews and life in Langa. What’s interesting is that while other urban black South Africans embraced pop and Western culture, Amampondo brought out their roots. They are modern men who have decided to preserve a venerable culture. 

Buy Amampondo – An Image Of Africa – Live In Cape Town.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for TelevisiĆ³n EspaƱola (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.