@BBCAfrica

Why I sing in a language I barely speak

2 months ago, 18 Mar 18:00

By: Bbc

Musician Toty Sa'Med can't say more than a few words in the Angolan language of Kimbundu but he insists on writing his songs in the language. He explains why. My great-grandmother was the last person I knew personally who spoke only Kimbundu. She died 15 years ago. It's a local language in Angola, spoken in the area surrounding the capital Luanda. That's where I was born and brought up but, even so, I can only speak a few words. I hear street hawkers in Luanda speaking Kimbundu among themselves. They come from the countryside and they are very connected to their culture. So when I buy something off a street hawker, sometimes I greet them in Kimbundu. Almost everyone can at least say hello. I even greet some of my friends in Kimbundu. But when I ask to buy something, I have to switch into Portuguese because I don't know how to say much more in Kimbundu. The seller responds in Portuguese because almost everyone who speaks Kimbundu knows how to speak Portuguese too. I don't know anyone who solely speaks Kimbundu. We still hear the language every day because we mix some of the words in with our Portuguese. Friend, for example is Kamba. But we don't know how to construct sentences because we haven't had the chance to learn it properly. When I was a teenager my headmaster decided to put Kimbundu in our timetable at school. This was unusual - it wasn't on the curriculum in Luanda but I went to a private school. As a 13-year-old I didn't realise that it was important - it was the lesson we used to chat through and disrupt. I had some prejudices about Kimbundu. We were taught by society that the language wasn't beautiful or civilised. We dismissed it because we thought it was a language for savages. When the Portuguese colonised Angola, they tried to diminish the value of Kimbundu and other local languages. Suppressing the culture made it easier to colonise us. They took away our local names and now almost everyone in Angola has Portuguese surnames. That caused us as teenagers, all those generations later, to despise the language and to find it embarrassing to speak in Kimbundu. Then things changed for me. I started travelling around the world to perform. When I saw other successful African artists, I started to value my culture more. Hear more from Toty Sa'Med and six other Angolan artists on Global Beats in Luanda. Broadcast times on the BBC World Service: Listen again on BBC iPlayer radio. I realised that I have all these foreign influences but I don't bring anything new to the scene. I played like other people and I sang like other people. I started to gain consciousness about my own culture and started to value it. I decided it was time to use my art to influence people of my generation and encourage them to learn our languages. I covered a song by a singer called ...
Read More


Category: africa topnews news

Suggested

4 hours ago, 19:49
@AfricaNews - By: Africanews
FIFA's Samoura calls out racism, sexism at football governing body | Africanews

The 55-year-old Senegalese was the first woman to hold a senior role at FIFA when she took over from Jerome Valcke, who was sacked in January 2016 as part of the fall-out from the corruption scandal t ...

Category: africa topnews news
6 hours ago, 18:24
@AfricaNews - By: Africanews
Ethiopia pardons opposition leader on death row | Africanews

Andargachew Tsige was sentenced to death in absentia in 2009 over his role in the opposition group Ginbot 7, leading to his arrest in Yemen five years later and extradition to Ethiopia. ...

Category: africa topnews news
6 hours ago, 17:48
@AfricaNews - By: Hannane Ferdjani
Africa's digital trailblazers [Inspire Africa] | Africanews

They are not only the future of the African continent.. But also its very present. They are professional from all walks of life who are fueling Africa's development .. And we - on INSPIRE AFRICA - are ...

Category: africa topnews news
7 hours ago, 16:36
@BBCAfrica - By: Bbc
Uganda bus crash kills at least 22

Children are among the dead after a bus hit a tractor that was driving at night without lights. ...

Category: africa topnews news
7 hours ago, 17:18
@AfricaNews - By: Africanews
China wins back Burkina Faso, urges Taiwan's last African ally to follow | Africanews

On Thursday, the West African state of Burkina Faso said it was severing ties with Taiwan, the second country in a month to abandon Taipei, following the Dominican Republic. ...

Category: africa news
7 hours ago, 16:47
@AfricaNews - By: Daniel Mumbere
Rwanda dismisses critics of Arsenal sponsorship deal | Africanews

While most Rwandans and Africans hailed Rwanda for its bold marketing strategy, the Dutch Parliament criticised the deal and tasked its aid minister Sigrid Kaag to look into the Arsenal sponsorship de ...

Category: africa news topnews

@BBCAfrica

Why I sing in a language I barely speak

2 months ago, 18 Mar 18:00

By: Bbc
Musician Toty Sa'Med can't say more than a few words in the Angolan language of Kimbundu but he insists on writing his songs in the language. He explains why. My great-grandmother was the last person I knew personally who spoke only Kimbundu. She died 15 years ago. It's a local language in Angola, spoken in the area surrounding the capital Luanda. That's where I was born and brought up but, even so, I can only speak a few words. I hear street hawkers in Luanda speaking Kimbundu among themselves. They come from the countryside and they are very connected to their culture. So when I buy something off a street hawker, sometimes I greet them in Kimbundu. Almost everyone can at least say hello. I even greet some of my friends in Kimbundu. But when I ask to buy something, I have to switch into Portuguese because I don't know how to say much more in Kimbundu. The seller responds in Portuguese because almost everyone who speaks Kimbundu knows how to speak Portuguese too. I don't know anyone who solely speaks Kimbundu. We still hear the language every day because we mix some of the words in with our Portuguese. Friend, for example is Kamba. But we don't know how to construct sentences because we haven't had the chance to learn it properly. When I was a teenager my headmaster decided to put Kimbundu in our timetable at school. This was unusual - it wasn't on the curriculum in Luanda but I went to a private school. As a 13-year-old I didn't realise that it was important - it was the lesson we used to chat through and disrupt. I had some prejudices about Kimbundu. We were taught by society that the language wasn't beautiful or civilised. We dismissed it because we thought it was a language for savages. When the Portuguese colonised Angola, they tried to diminish the value of Kimbundu and other local languages. Suppressing the culture made it easier to colonise us. They took away our local names and now almost everyone in Angola has Portuguese surnames. That caused us as teenagers, all those generations later, to despise the language and to find it embarrassing to speak in Kimbundu. Then things changed for me. I started travelling around the world to perform. When I saw other successful African artists, I started to value my culture more. Hear more from Toty Sa'Med and six other Angolan artists on Global Beats in Luanda. Broadcast times on the BBC World Service: Listen again on BBC iPlayer radio. I realised that I have all these foreign influences but I don't bring anything new to the scene. I played like other people and I sang like other people. I started to gain consciousness about my own culture and started to value it. I decided it was time to use my art to influence people of my generation and encourage them to learn our languages. I covered a song by a singer called ...
Read More

Category: africa topnews news

Suggested

4 hours ago, 19:49
@AfricaNews - By: Africanews
FIFA's Samoura calls out racism, sexism at football governing body | Africanews

The 55-year-old Senegalese was the first woman to hold a senior role at FIFA when she took over from Jerome Valcke, who was sacked in January 2016 as part of the fall-out from the corruption scandal t ...

Category: africa topnews news
6 hours ago, 18:24
@AfricaNews - By: Africanews
Ethiopia pardons opposition leader on death row | Africanews

Andargachew Tsige was sentenced to death in absentia in 2009 over his role in the opposition group Ginbot 7, leading to his arrest in Yemen five years later and extradition to Ethiopia. ...

Category: africa topnews news
6 hours ago, 17:48
@AfricaNews - By: Hannane Ferdjani
Africa's digital trailblazers [Inspire Africa] | Africanews

They are not only the future of the African continent.. But also its very present. They are professional from all walks of life who are fueling Africa's development .. And we - on INSPIRE AFRICA - are ...

Category: africa topnews news
7 hours ago, 16:36
@BBCAfrica - By: Bbc
Uganda bus crash kills at least 22

Children are among the dead after a bus hit a tractor that was driving at night without lights. ...

Category: africa topnews news
7 hours ago, 17:18
@AfricaNews - By: Africanews
China wins back Burkina Faso, urges Taiwan's last African ally to follow | Africanews

On Thursday, the West African state of Burkina Faso said it was severing ties with Taiwan, the second country in a month to abandon Taipei, following the Dominican Republic. ...

Category: africa news
7 hours ago, 16:47
@AfricaNews - By: Daniel Mumbere
Rwanda dismisses critics of Arsenal sponsorship deal | Africanews

While most Rwandans and Africans hailed Rwanda for its bold marketing strategy, the Dutch Parliament criticised the deal and tasked its aid minister Sigrid Kaag to look into the Arsenal sponsorship de ...

Category: africa news topnews
Our App