Monday, April 29, 2013

Isicathamiya Song “Phansi Imikhonto” (“Down The Spears”) by Empangeni Tigers

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents a transcription of the isicathamiya song "Phansi Imikhonto” (“Down The Spears”) by the Empangeni Tigers. This post also features a sound file of an isicathamiya song performed by the Empangeni Tigers as well as a brief video clip of another isicathamiya group in rehersal.

In addition, information about isicathamiya music is provided in this post from a review of Veit Erlmann's 1996 book on that music genre. That book is the source for the Zulu & English transcription of "Phansi Imikhonto”.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

From a review of the 1996 book >Nightsong: Performance, Power, and Practice in South Africa by Veit Erlmann.

First popularized by Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Paul Simon, the a cappella music known asisicathamiyahas become internationally celebrated as one of South Africa's most vibrant and distinct performance traditions. But Ladysmith Black Mambazo is only one of hundreds of choirs that perform "nightsongs" during weekly all-night competitions in South Africa's cities.

Veit Erlmann provides the first comprehensive interpretation of isicathamiya performance practice and its relation to the culture and consciousness of the Zulu migrant laborers who largely compose its choirs. In songs and dances, the performers oppose the class and racial oppression that reduces them to "labor units." At the same time, Erlmann argues, the performers rework dominant images to symbolically reconstruct their "home," an imagined world of Zulu rural tradition and identity.

By contrasting the live performance of isicathamiya to its reproduction in mass media, recordings, and international concerts, Erlmann addresses important issues in performance studies and anthropology, and looks to the future of isicathamiyalive performance in the new South Africa..."

From Nightsong: Performance, Power, and Practice in South Africa by Veit Erlmann, (University of Chicago Press, 1966; pages 173-175
..."Ethnic consciousness, while pretending to be a product of a seamless continuity of the past, is thus in fact an integral component of modernization, reacting against the estranging effects of modernity and at the same time modeling itself on it. A song like “Phansi Imikhonto” (“Down The Spears”) by the Empangeni Tigers (SABC MKB 818, B) illustrates this clearly:

Leader: Phans’ imikhonto phans izagila.
Down the spears, down the assegais.

Phans’ imikhonto Zulu.
Down the spears, Zulus.

Chorus: Phans’ imikhonto.
Down the spears.

Leader: Bekani izagila.
Put down the assegais!

Chorus: Phans’ izagila.
Down the assegais.

Leader: Bekan’ imikhonto.
Put down the spears!

Yilomblaba osabuswa ngegazi.
The era of reigning with blood is over,

lokho kwakwenzek’ emandulo.
that used to happen in ancient times.

Leader: Akekho noyedwa namblanje.
There is no one today.

Chorus: Akekho noyedwa namblanje.
There is no one today.

ongafuya amelw’ umnotha ngomkhonto.
who can be a farmer or a merchant while being threatened by spears.

MaZulu, hayi, maZulu qhababo.
No Zulus, no Zulus.

Ake siqhubekele phambili.
Let us progress.

Leader: Nakhu kukhanya ye.
There is light.

Chorus: Nakh’ ukukhanya kithi kufikile.
It is the dawning of the age.

Nans’ imfundo maZulu ifikile.
Here is education, Zulus.

Leader: Manje-na...

Chorus: Ohubani izingane ziye es’koleni.
Lead children to school.

Ziyothola ulwazi olungena kuphela.
Let them receive endless knowledge.

Leader: Hayi!
Chorus: No!

Leader: Sasala sodwa.
We are left behind.
*This is may be only a partial transcription of this song. "Down the spears, down the assegais" means "Put down" those weapons.



The Empangeni Home Tigers - Unokuthula (Choir) (Ma Ma 729)

WayhiTapes, Uploaded on Jan 4, 2012

The Empangeni Home Tigers - Unokuthula (Choir) (Ma Ma 729)

South Africa - true Isicathamiya - old boys!!!!!

Philani10,Uploaded on Jan 1, 2008

Traditional old boys Isicathamiya from South Africa!

Thanks to the composers of these songs, and all the vocalists who performed these songs. My thanks also to Veit Erlmann for his comments and transcription. Thanks also to the uploaders of these featured sound file and video.

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