Zambia Roadside 2
RootsWorld: Home Page Link RootsWorld: Home Page Link

Various Artists
Zambia Roadside 2: Tonga, Ila, Lozi, Leya, Aushi, Bemba
Sharp Wood Productions (

One way to deal with the second volume in Zambia-born label owner Michael Baird’s ongoing study in the thriving local music scenes percolating in a number of Zambia’s regions, is to listen to track seven. Here, Enock Mbongwe Haciwa’s one-string musical bow, known as the kalumbu, stutters a hypnotic pattern as the 66 year-old retired teacher waxes the Adam and Eve story. The reliance on this particular old-school Biblical tale of patriarchy would mean little if it weren’t for Haciwa’s vocals, imitative of Eve’s despair, as well as his bow playing, which creeps along dangerously, marrying the music of the ancient Khoisan to the modern Tonga, found in Zambia’s southern province.

Baird recorded the music on this CD in the years between 1996 and 2010, and he covered a lot of ground. Aside from traveling extensively in the villages south of Lusaka, in the southernmost hunk of the country, he found himself on either side of the Congo Basin, in the North East and North West of the country. In Kapesha Village, for example, he snagged raw drum and choral tracks, where younger men and women initially connect via the rhythm of at least three drummers. A close listen to the tracks from Kapesha back to back with drum and vocal music from Hachaanga Village, which is far away to the south, reveals clearly the differences in regions’ basic styles. In Hachaaga, drumming is frantic, and the vocalists’ call and response tendencies feature a leader more prominently. Its relentless, whistle-punctuated groove is featured on the first half of this disc.

Yet it’s the solo kalumbu and silimba (10-note xylophone) players that give this collection its buoyancy. Silimba music, as often found in the deep south bordering Zimbabwe, has a certain rhythmic overlap with music found in that country. There’s a slight connection to the hypnotic, distorted lullabies of the Kankobela, but by and large, this gentle percussion-derived music defies its own gravity. Baird’s goal here, aside from delivering a disc full of joyous sounds, was to show how vibrant music is across the country amongst older and younger musicians, which can’t help but be good news, considering the reports he had to lay out with regard to the Batonga and their traditions, which have been documented on two recent SWP CDs. - Bruce Miller

Further reading:
The Kankobela of the Batonga
Zambia Roadside Vol 1
Some Hugh Tracey recordings from the region

Looking for More Information?


return to rootsworld

© 2013 RootsWorld. No reproduction of any part of this page or its associated files is permitted without express written permission.


cd cover


Share on Facebook


CD available from cdRoots

RootsWorld depends on your support.
Contribute in any amount
and get our weekly e-newsletter.