|Bonga Kueda: His beard is no simple matter|
Harry Graham's 2018 interview with Angolan musician Bonga Kueda is a half hour very well spent. It is an engaging conversation with an artist whose life traces the arc of modern Angolan history. He describes his journey from music to running and back to music, all while telling Angola's colonial and post-colonial story.
He mentions three major genres of Angolan music, and it might be difficult to know what he is saying if these are unfamiliar; a friend who has worked in Angola shared the correct spellings: Kuduro, Kizomba, and Semba. This is not the same as Brazilian Samba, though the latter may have been derived from Semba.
The stories of independence in Angola, Cabo Verde, and other Lusophone nations are intertwined with the 1975 fall of Salazar in Portugal itself. These events are much more recent than many of our contemporaries seem to think; it is almost too soon to talk about post-colonialism.
The conversation is presented for an English-speaking audience, but Bantu, Portuguese, and French are heard in the background throughout. Despite the deep pain Portugal has caused for his country, the main interview takes place by phone from a barber shop in Lisbon.
I add the label "geographer" to his story even though it is not cited in the interview. Growing up in colonial schools, Bonga had to learn the rivers of Portugal, but his own country was not part of the curriculum. At a young age, he taught himself the geography of his own country and took "Bonga" as a way of rejecting the name given him at birth as the subject of an empire. It is therefore quite ironic that he conducts the interview quite in the seat of that empire.