I first experienced Lady Smith Black Mambazo at Paul Simon’s Graceland concert. It was held in 1987. Growing up as kids, we would watch the concert on CD with our dad who was a huge fan of Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba both of blessed memory.
He would join them to sing the ‘bring back Nelson Mandela’ song with his huge voice or vibe to other pieces as we watched. It was one of my favourite CDs.
Back then, I was just more curious about the instrumentals, the amazing diversity in the audience, and the amazing sounds produced by the Lady Smith Black Mambazo choir.
A few years later, I revisited the entire concert and had a higher level of satisfaction. Despite the emergence of concepts such as cultural appropriation, I still could clearly see what my father saw and experienced the vibes he got.
From ‘Township Jive’ to ‘the boy in the bubble’, ‘the retreat song’, ‘under African skies’ and ‘diamond under the soles of her shoes’ just to name a few, it was a melange of pure bliss and a demonstration of music as an art that surpasses all barriers and bridges.
It was a consolation to those suffering the apartheid injustices, a call for them to remain united in their challenges as well as resilient with the hope for a better future. Today, it is a bridge to the divides we have instituted upon ourselves by the use of language, race, religion and funnily, physical locations.
The first time I heard Burna Boy was on ‘Yawa dey’, like a decade ago. He was addressing the hardship of daily life and his efforts to win a Grammy. Yes, the same Grammy he won ten years later. How predictive.
Many years later, the feeling Burna and the Mambazo choir give is nothing short of a reminiscence of that African spirit cutting beyond borders. It is even more intense when both entities express it on the same song.
The song, Glory is of Burna’s Love, Damini album released on July 2nd, 2022.
Beyond just two great entities getting together to make a wonderful piece, ‘Glory’ is a union of two like minds. The essence, to make beautiful art and demonstrate the unity and pride of a continent so diverse in all facets of life. It is the result of a union ordained by forces of unity, love and inspiration.
Of course we can’t undermine our differences as countries, tribes, regions or even communities. It would be pure folly and wishful thinking to try to do that. Still, acknowledging and enforcing the chords that hold us together across the board, is a great way to keep the African boat afloat.
Glory – The Story
The harmonious intro by the Ladysmith Black Mambazo informs us the song is a chronicle of his journey. Burna takes on with a background sampling from Enchantment’s 1976 Gloria.
He narrates some of his struggles and him having to work twice as hard just to make it.
Burna Boy’s walk to fame was no easy one. He described his 2021 Grammy win as a big win for his generation of Africans all over the world.
He said: “… No matter where you are from, no matter what you plan to do, you can achieve it, no matter where you are from…”
Behind those words were a supportive family and a long trail of hurdles overcome and fights won – of course not without scars. No one wins without them.
🎶Like the last time that you ever seen me, hold me ahh Glory…🎶
– Giyo Ndzi