Saturday, December 17, 2016

Sesame Street's Elmo Performing A Kwanzaa Dance Featuring A Musical Bow Instrument

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post showcases a clip from a Sesame Street "Elmo's World" episode.

In that episode Elmo performs an African dance in celebration of the African American originated "Kwanzaa" holiday. Special attention in this post is given to the African musical bow that is among the musical instruments that is played by the musical ensemble. The Brazilian (South America) berimbao that is based on African musical bows is probably the most widely known example worldwide of these types of musical instruments.

Addendum #1 to this post provides information about Kwanzaa.

Addendum #2 provides information about African musical bows and Brazilian (South American) berimbaos.

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those associated with this "Elmo's World" episode. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.

SHOWCASE VIDEO: Sesame Street: Kwanzaa Dancing With Elmo

Sesame Street, Uploaded on Dec 11, 2009

From the Sesame Street DVD "Elmo's World: Happy Holidays"
While performing "African dances" is often part of Kwanzaa celebrations, in my experience, those dances that are usually performed are representative or imitative of traditional Nigerian or Senegalese dance styles. Based on the inclusion of the musical bow instrument and the dancer's clothing and maybe also his head gear, my guess is that the dance that is performed in this video is based on Angola (South Central Africa). In my experience, few African Americans are familiar with the costuming and musical bow instrument that are found in this video.

Here's one video example of an Angolan musical bow:

Roots of Capoeira 1, Balthazar Tchatoka plays M'bulumbumba and sings to Cobra Mansa

mirrordemocracy, Published on Dec 13, 2012

Balthazar Tchatoka plays M'bulumbumba and sings "Ove Katunga" to Cobra Mansa in southern Angola .....of interest to Berimbau players.
Notice the criss-crossed beads that are traditionally worn by male musicians and dancers in Angola and other South African nations.

"Kwanzaa (/ˈkwɑːn.zə/) is a week-long celebration held in the United States and in other nations of the Western African diaspora in the Americas. The celebration honors African heritage in African-American culture, and is observed from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving.[1] Kwanzaa has seven core principles (Nguzo Saba). It was created by Maulana Karenga and was first celebrated in 1966–67...

In 2004, BIG Research conducted a marketing survey in the United States for the National Retail Foundation, which found that 1.6% of those surveyed planned to celebrate Kwanzaa. If generalized to the US population as a whole, this would imply that around 4.7 million people planned to celebrate Kwanzaa in that year...

According to University of Minnesota Professor Keith Mayes, the author of Kwanzaa: Black Power and the Making of the African-American Holiday Tradition, the popularity within the US has "leveled off" as the black power movement there has declined, and now between half and two million people celebrate Kwanzaa in the US, or between one and five percent of African Americans. Mayes adds that white institutions now celebrate it.[11]

The holiday has also spread to Canada and is celebrated by Black Canadians in a similar fashion as in the United States.[20] According to the Language Portal of Canada, "this fairly new tradition has [also] gained in popularity in France, Great Britain, Jamaica and Brazil".[24]

In Brazil, in recent years the term Kwanzaa has been applied by a few institutions as a synonym for the festivities of the Black Awareness Day, commemorated on November 20 in honor of Zumbi dos Palmares,[25][26] having little to do with the celebration as it was originally conceived."...

A larger version of the mouth bow is the musical bow, which is also widely distributed around the Congo. The basis of this instrument is the hunting bow, which has here been converted into a musical instrument by adding two adaptations: a calabash attached to the bow serves as a sound box and the strings are pulled through a loop, tied and attached, dividing them into two unequal parts so that two underlying tones can be played. By moving the loop, the distance between the two tones can be changed at will. Both segments of the string are struck with a thin rod. More experienced players can control the back of the string with the index finger, enabling a third undertone to be played. The calabash is half open and in the convex upper side is a small hole through which the loop runs that is attached to the string. This direct contact with the string results in greater resonance. A piece of cloth is often inserted between the calabash and the bow to reduce unwanted vibrations. The musician can change the timbre of the instrument by pushing the half-open calabash against or away from his chest or stomach. An important difference with the mouth bow is that it is played vertically.

The musical bow too is played primarily to add music to everyday stories and events.

Type: musical bow open string
[Various African nations with their names for musical bows given in parenthesis]
Angola (Chihumba)

Congo DRC (Lunzenze, Nguem)

Gabon (Ngwomi (Tsambi), Nsambi)

Ghana (Jinjelin, Jinjeram)

Liberia (Gbon-kpala)

Madagascar (Dzeedzu, Jejolava)

Swaziland (Ligubu)

Folk republic of the Congo (Ngwomi, Nsambi, Nsâmbi, Nsambi kizonzolo)

Zambia (Kalumbo)

Zimbabwe (Kalumbo)

South Africa (Hadi, Isigankuri, Ugubu (ugubhu))

Type: braced musical bow

Angola (Mbulumbumba)

Bénin (Tiéporé)

Burundi (Idono, Igubu (igobore), Umuduri)

Central African Republic (E.ngbiti, Mbela)

Congo DRC (Ekibulenge, Lakwemi, Lokombi (Longombe), Longombe, Longombi, Lungungu, Nzenze, Rukung, Umuduri)

Rwanda (Umuduri (umunahi)

Swaziland (Makhweyane, Makweyana)

Uganda (Egobore, Umunahi)
South Africa (Makhweyana)

From The berimbau (/bərɪmˈbaʊ/; Brazilian Portuguese: /beɾĩˈbaw/) is a single-string percussion instrument, a musical bow, from Brazil. Originally from Africa where it receives different names,[1] the berimbau was eventually incorporated into the practice of the Afro-Brazilian martial art capoeira, the berimbau (the soul of capoeira) leads the capoeiristas movement in the roda—the faster the berimbau is playing the faster the capoeirista moves in the game...

The berimbau's origins have not been fully researched, though it is most likely an adaptation of African gourde musical bows, as no Indigenous Brazilian or European people use musical bows.[1][2]

The way the berimbau and the m'bulumbumba of southwest Angola are made and played are very similar, as well as the tuning and basic patterns performed on these instruments. The assimilation of this African instrument into the Brazilian capoeira is evident also in other Bantu terms used for musical bows in Brazilian, including urucungo, and madimba lungungu.
Click for a pancocojams post of the Capoeira song "Paranue" for examples of berimbao music.

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