Pops Mohamed - How far have we come



Pops Mohamed, South Africa's unofficial Minister for Music, is on a mission to prevent the indigenous music of the rainbow nation being overrun by American pop. A perfect mix of traditional and modern forms, this album is based upon an amazing set of recordings with the Khoi-San Bushmen of the Kalahari desert. Made over three days in a makeshift studio set up in the back of a 4X4 drive jeep, the tapes were then flown to London, where Pops worked with musicians including Andrew Missingham and Chris Bowden of Barungwa, Jessica Lauren and Yolanda Charles, to produce an album that is truly a unique meeting of cultures. Pops combines a contemporary electric line-up with the unusual textures of traditional African instruments offset against jazz, funk, dance and township rhythms. His own vocals are mixed with samples of the chants of the San people to produce a richly textured, thoroughly modern music that's deeply imbued with the indomitable spirit of ancient Africa. In booklet accompanying the CD, Pops tells the story of each song:

A booklet accompanying the CD tells the story of each song, along with the ?A booklet accompanying the CD tells the story of each song, along with the background to the whole project, written by Pops and featuring photography that gives an insight to the life of the San people. A percentage from the sales of the album is being donated to the Khoi San Foundation.


Track Listing (30 Second Samples)

This song is dedicated to the beautiful people who used to live in Kalamazoo, a small township east of Johannesburg where people of different cultures lived together until the South African regime decided to bulldoze their homes and forced them into new townships like Soweto, Actonville, Reiger Park, etc... I used to visit Kalamazoo when I was a kid and it was here where I first heard the sounds of traditional African instruments. It was also here where I first heard the sound of the Bushmen Mouthbow played together with modern sounds.

Jimba Jimba is the name of a game we played when I was a little boy. Forming a circle by holding hands we danced, sometimes passing a ball to one another. If someone missed catching the ball we shouted "Jimba, Jimba!" The bushmen have a similar game, played mainly by women in the Kalahari.

Quandodo is one of the many songs by the bushmen people when they are dancing the ever popular trance dance. Like many other forms of meditation among traditional tribes throughout the world, the bushmen claim their trance dance to be the oldest and the best form of meditation in order to get in touch with their ancestors.

This is the story of a man leaving his family to go and work in a mine in the city. Equipped with only his clothes and his Mbira, longing for his wife and children. He plays the Mbira and imagines that choo choo train taking him back home. The melody on the flutes, and the way the shakers are played, paint a picture of that train taking the migrant worker back to his homeland.

This is the tune of a bushman and his family waking up one morning and surprisingly finding that it has been raining the night before. The singing of the birds and that fresh smell of desert sand, the beautiful sunrise, the sound of the cock and a dog barking in the far distance, the smiling face of his late father staring down at him from above, high up in the blue skies. He is The Spirit.

An elderly bushman, Ingube Gout, from the khoisan tribe is telling me the story of his life. He tells us of the hardship, the abuses and the struggle for survival of the bushmen of the Kalahari. Tears were rolling down his face as he told me his story. His story had us all in tears as we were listening to him.

This song tells us about the brutality and cruelty that's been going on in South Africa since the beginning of the riots in June 1976. Here we name just a few places that were affected by the brutality of apartheid. I dedicate this song to all those brave people who gave their lives, so that we can tell the story of a country that was once ruled by the barrels of too many guns. We say "Never Again."

In the beginning of this track one can clearly hear the anger of the people during one of the biggest marches demonstrated by the ANC. The lyrics of the song give the broader picture on what's going on today in and around Soweto.

This is a story of a crippled San woman with a child on her back fighting off an attacking lion. This music starts, "Namibia... Kalahari... Khoisan, Namibia..." She is praying to her ancestors to save her. The lion sees this and goes in for the kill. The woman grabs her stick and fights him off again. The music starts "Aye dunya, ay dunya, ay dunya." As she prays the lion gets a bad vibe from the woman, so much so that the hair on his back starts raising. He feels scared and defeated. He runs off into the wilds.

Jessica Lauren walked into the studio the last day of recording this album in London and said, "I have a present for you", and she played this tune for me on the piano and immediately I fell in love with the tune. I took my Kora which I had already packed away and joined her in the tune. Ten minutes later we were recording the song. It felt good and right.