Listening to That Afro Talk and Afro Beat

There are very few things that actually cut across all ages, culture, denomination and even educational background. One such thing is music. Music has been the one tool that can reach out to all mankind without prejudice. It is not uncommon to find millions of people from different corners of the globe, all liking a particular type of music. For this reason, music, such as afro beat, has been used to put forward many issues such as aids awareness, fighting corruption and many other causes.

But over and beyond its ability to cut through all spheres of society, music is diverse in nature. It is largely informed by the culture from which it emanates. And since the world is full of a variety of cultures, we therefore have a great diversity in the music that we hear. Examples of the different musical genres common in the market include jazz, bhangra, rock & roll, Lingala, reggae and many more.

But one form of music that is quickly finding its way into the African market is the afro beat. It is a hybrid of other forms of music and musical instruments. It blends in Yoruba music, jazz, highlife and funky rhythms, fused with percussions and diverse vocal styles called afro talk. This form of music is not new and is rumored to have started as early back as the 1970s.

Afro beat is credited to Fela Kuti, a West African musician known for his radical views expressed through his music. It is said that Fela came up with the name afro beat after returning from a tour of the states with his band. Seeing the potential in the idea, Fela established a new club and called it the afro shine. To popularize his idea further, he decided to change the name of his band as well from Nigeria 70 to Fela Ransome-Kuti & Africa 70.

The band set up base at afro shine for 5years between 1970 and 75. During this time, the popularity of the afro beat continued to grow among the youth, influencing the way they talk – afro talk, dress, think and even live their lives. Today afro beat continues to not only grow as a genre of music, but also continues to inspire other musical trends.

Some of the musical trends inspired by afro beat include the Lingala. This is a very popular form of music in east and central Africa. This form of music is common with the Congolese and is sung in both Lingala (a language in Congo) and French. Some of the more notable names that have arisen from this form of music include Koffi Olomide, Papa Wemba, magic system and many more.

Other forms of music inspired by afro beat include the Kapungala. This is a relatively new dance that originated in Kenya. It is also a hybrid of two independent forms of music. Namely; lingala and kapuka. The dance has been popularized by artists like Daddy Owen and the Wernono crew.