Y’all know I’m into South African music, right? Let me share something interesting with you.
There’s a fantastic singer named Themba “Shaluza Max” Mntambo. What caught me about his music – apart from Max’s muscular tenor and some thumping grooves – was the sound of a concertina.
In my mind, the accordion-like concertina is a dainty little European instrument. What’s it doing in a Zulu chant-song?
To hear what I mean, click here and listen to Shaluza Max’s “Amancamnce.”
Embedded below is a Shaluza Max video with an even funkier concertina hook. The song is called “Mangase.” (“Amancamnce” and “Mangase” are downloadable from iTunes.)
Here’s the deal: Englishmen developed the concertina during the mid-1800s. They are said to have introduced it to South Africa in the 1920s.
The instrument was then picked up by Afrikaners, who made it a cornerstone of their folk music.
But it was also picked up by Zulus, who likewise absorbed it into their traditional music.
Doesn’t that say something beautiful about the meaning of music... and how culture is transmitted? Like with the banjo in America. Or the tuba in Mexico.
Supposedly, there are now concertina festivals in South Africa where Boer and Zulu musicians come together and rock their “Anglo” concertinas!
(By the way, we might refer to a concertina as a squeezebox... but South Africans call it a squashbox.)