This is one of the most beautiful songs I know.
If, like me, you suffer from a poor Internet connection then initial playback may be a frustrating experience. In this case, press STOP, read the post (giving the track time to load), then try PLAY again.
My personal discovery of the singer was one of those rare moments of epiphany, a “sudden spiritual manifestation”, in James Joyce’s words. These delicate and fleeting moments can be experienced in the most mundane places; for me, it was in a sports shop in SOCOCE, the first shopping mall in West Africa.
As Mr B and I were riffling through the swimwear, we suddenly became aware of the intertwined guitars over the swaying and sonorous bass. Then came the voice, warm and gruff, filled with years of sorrow and suffering.
We looked upwards to the speakers in the shop ceiling. The shop assistants too had stopped work and were listening in silence. We gathered together in a small group and asked wonderingly, “Who is this singer?” “It’s a Congolese,” said one man. “No, it’s something like Portuguese,” I said, the sound of fado in my memory. I held up my hand as the song ended so that we could hear the singer’s name, but the DJ spoke too fast and all we could catch was, “Bonga”.
I called the radio station and asked the DJ who it was. “Bonga Angola,” he said. “A friend gave me a Radio Nova compilation from France with the song on it.” Oh yes! I remembered I had heard it before: it was on a mix tape I’d made called “Les voix mystères de Radio Nova”, made up of unidentified songs I’d heard in Paris. There’s no need for such a tape these days, since all the songs are identified as you listen online.
This song, Mona Ki N’gui Xica, is from Bonga’s first album, “Angola 72”, which was followed two years later by the imaginatively entitled, “Angola 74”. Highlight of this second album is Bonga’s original version of Sodade, which launched the international career of Cesaria Evora many years later.
(More on Bonga …)
I hope you enjoyed it.