Another in our series of Chopi Migodo, from Mozambique, collected by the great ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracey.

Gomukomu’s Ng’godo for 1940 is a celebration of the beauty and power of Chopi music, set against the sheer pettiness of Portuguese rule with its forced labour, its taxes and its tiresome officials.

NG’GODO
Composed in 1940 by Gomukomu weSimbi, orchestral leader and composer at the village of Filipe Banguza, Zavala District, Mozambique.

1. Msisto wokata
2. Msitso wombidi
3. Msitso woraru
4. Ng’geniso
5. Mdano
6. Cidanuwana Combidi
7. Cibudu
8. Mzeno
9. Mabandla
10. Njiriri Cive kwako N’ngoma
11. Msitso kugwita

First Orchestral Introduction
Second Orchestral introduction
Third Orchestral Introduction
The Entry of the Dancers
The Call of the Dancers
The Second Call of the Dancers
The Dance
The Song
The Councillors
The Dancers’ Finale with Drums
The Orchestral Finale

Movements 1,2, 3 and 11 have no words to them.

4th Movement: Ng’geniso, the Entry of the Dancers:

Dhlalani man’ngoma!
Dhlalani wakoma vanizonda!
Dhlalani mang’goma!

Dhlalani man’ngoma!
Dhlalani wakoma vanizonda!
Dhlalani mang’goma!

Dhlalani man’ngoma!
Dhlalani wakoma vanizonda!
Dhlalani mang’goma!

Hear, you Diviners! (1)
Hear, the dead are against me!
Hear, you Diviners!

Hear, you Diviners!
Hear, the dead are against me!
Hear, you Diviners!

Hear, you Diviners!
Hear, the dead are against me!
Hear, you Diviners!

5th movement: Mdano, the Call of the Dancers:

Hawula njowu!
Uwalu jovelu maShang’gana
udyiwa ng’gawaSutu.

Hawula njowu!
Uwalu jovelu maShang’nana
udyiwa ng’gawaSutu.
Udyiwa ng’gawaSutu
nimaXosa hakwambi uziva.

Udyiwa ng’gawaSutu
nimaXosa hakwambi uziva.

Vehoka kajimu hasanguni
inkufela nkoma.
Vehoka kajimu hasanguni
inkufela nkoma.

Hambiza wakuku kicini ndani vatiziwa.
Hambiza wakuku kicini ndani vatiziwa.

Hawula njowu!
Uwalu jovelu maShang’gana
udyiwa ng’gawaSutu.

Cast off your skins! (2)
There is no relish left, you Shangaans,
it has been eaten by the Sotho. (3)

Cast off your skins!
There is no relish left, you Shangaans,
it has been eaten by the Sotho.
It has been eaten by the Sotho and the Xhosa, and we will not get it.

It has been eaten by the Sotho and the Xhosa, and we will not get it.

They came to the gatekeeper
and wanted good jobs.
They came to the gatekeeper
and wanted good jobs.

Even the cooks in the kitchen know it. (4)
Even the cooks in the kitchen know it.

Cast off your skins!
There is no relish left, you Shangaans,
it has been eaten by the Sotho.

6th movement: Cidanuwana Combidi, the Second Call of the Dancers:

Hawiyeza vakuyadinda zulu!
Lavanani nivakatanu
micang’ga tathfa mdano.

Hawiyeza vakuyadinda zulu!
Lavanani nivakatanu
micang’ga tathfa mdano.

Kusika timbila ng’gumaha ng’gu ndoro vaMan’ngeni vahihluti
Kusika timbila ng’gumaha ng’gu ndoro vaMang’geni vahihluti

Mihumbo yamina
Ng’guyusa majaha,
Mihumbo kuteka tipondo tamina
amanu nisava nzila.

Mihumbo yamina
Ng’guyusa majaha,
Mihumbo kuteka tipondo tamina
amanu nisava nzila.

Wasihora nana bombele
yasona sotembisa sibayani.
Wasihora nana bombele
yasona sotembisa sibayani.

Watembo wung’gwadla niusiwana wacibanyani cahambanza.
Watembo wung’gwadla niusiwana wacibanyani cahambanza.

Hawiyeza vakuyadinda zulu!
Lavanani nivakatanu
micang’ga tathfa mdano.

Hark how the music thunders!
Listen with your wives
and hear the Call. (5)

Hark how the music thunders!
Listen with your wives
and hear the Call.

To play the timbila you must dream about it, so that we of Mangeni will excel in it. (6)
To play the timbila you must dream about it, so that we of Mangeni will excel in it.

This wonder of mine,
my younger brother Nguyusa,
This wonder – to take money to buy the right of way! (7)

This wonder of mine,
my younger brother Nguyusa,
This wonder – to take money to buy the right of way!

You girls, you adorn yourselves
with marks to attract us. (8)
You girls, you adorn yourselves
with marks to attract us.

With these marks you attract us on forehead and temples.
With these marks you attract us on forehead and temples.

Hark how the music thunders!
Listen with your wives
and hear the Call.

7th movement: Cibudo, the Dance:

Lavanani mang’ganakana kuvusha mbang’go wakuhlula nima Geremani.
Lavanani mang’ganakana kuvusha mbang’go wakuhlula nima Geremani.
O – o, ng’gotawona Igodo!

Come along, you men, and join up to fight the Germans. (9)
Come along, you men, and join up to fight the Germans.
Oh – ho, come and hear the show!

8th movement: Mzeno, the Song:

Lavanani micang’ga sika
timbili tamakono!
Howotawa ditsimbirini
kavalung’gu.

Lavanani micang’ga sika
timbili tamakono!
Howotawa ditsimbirini
kavalung’gu.

Ng’guyusa mwana atu kunevuneti
Timbila tawakono.
Nothwata Mzeno uuwa Timbila.

Ng’guyusa mwana atu kunevuneti
Timbila tawakono.
Nothwata Mzeno uuwa Timbila.

A-kong’ga ko nimafuiye
Gomokomo watu.
A-kong’ga ko nimafuiye
Gomokomo watu,
Kwalakanya nyumbani kamina ko
nothemberuka noka.

A-kong’ga ko nimafuiye
Gomokomo watu.
A-kong’ga ko nimafuiye
Gomokomo watu,
Kwalakanya nyumbani kamina ko
nothemberuka noka.

Maninya Mtumbu vasumaka
kutsura nikubilivila.
Maninya Mtumbu vasumaka
kutsura nikubilivila,
Mane woruwala cibembe ciya cawulombe.

Maninya Mtumbu vasumaka
kutsura nikubilivila.
Maninya Mtumbu vasumaka
kutsura nikubilivila,
Mane woruwala cibembe ciya cawulombe.

Dabwa Lakeni
wadanwa ng’koma.
Filipe, “mwana atu”, unagwita
unkudava ng’guvalung’gu.

Dabwa Lakeni
wadanwa ng’koma.
Filipe, “mwana atu”, unagwita
unkudava ng’guvalung’gu.

Awi Lakeni, wakuruma ako
mahung’gu akutala.
Awi Lakeni, wakuruma ako
mahung’gu akutala,
O uthsala kudong’gola
nesing’gang’go.

Awi Lakeni, wakuruma ako
mahung’gu akutala.
Awi Lakeni, wakuruma ako
mahung’gu akutala,
O uthsala kudong’gola
nesing’gang’go.

vaZandameleni madanwa
mahung’gu.
Ng’gong’gondo utavile makung’gu ng’gundawa yakusela.

vaZandameleni madanwa
mahung’gu.
Ng’gong’gondo utavile makung’gu ng’gundawa yakusela.

Lavanani micang’ga sika
timbili tamakono!

Come together and make music
for the new year!
We fear only that our names will be written by the white men. (10)

Come together and make music
for the new year!
We fear only that our names will be written by the white men.

Nguyusa, my younger brother,
help me compose my music.
I have no “Great Song” for my Timbila.

Nguyusa, my younger brother,
help me compose my music.
I have no “Great Song” for my Timbila.

You said that you would care for me,
my Gomokomu. (11)
You said that you would care for me,
my Gomokomu,
But now in my house I am left
weaving along.

You said that you would care for me,
my Gomokomu.
You said that you would care for me,
my Gomokomu,
But now in my house I am left
weaving along.

Maninya Mtumbu, you think you are beautiful because you are fair! (12)
Maninya Mtumbu, you think you are beautiful because you are fair,
But you are surely as sweet as the bees!

Maninya Mtumbu, you think you are beautiful because you are fair!
Maninya Mtumbu, you think you are beautiful because you are fair,
But you are surely as sweet as the bees!

Lakeni the messenger
has come to call you. (13)
Filppe, our “child”, they will be the death of you with their calling.

Lakeni the messenger
has come to call you.
Filppe, our “child”, they will be the death of you with their calling.

You, Lakeni, are sent on
important affairs.
You, Lakeni, are sent on
important affairs,
Yet you dally on the road,
joking with the girls.

You, Lakeni, are sent on
important affairs.
You, Lakeni, are sent on
important affairs,
Yet you dally on the road,
joking with the girls.

You people of Zandamela are called
to the Court. (14)
Ngongondo, you fear the Court on account of your drinking.

You people of Zandamela are called
to the Court.
Ngongondo, you fear the Court on account of your drinking.

Come together and make music for the new year!

9th movement, Mabandla, the Councillors:

Kuwatiswa timbili taMang’geni,
takuthwata niinceka
Filipe, kuniwone kuhlupeka
nethwata nibaci.

Kuwatiswa timbili taMang’geni,
takuthwata niinceka
Filipe, kuniwone kuhlupeka
nethwata nibaci.

Vavasikati kuminevuni
hicang’gadila Kaleci,
Mfana waBaleka, Kaleci,
wakudawa ng’guwukoma.

I made timbila for Mangeni,
yet I have no clothes,
Filipe, can you not see I am distressed without even a coat?

I made timbila for Mangeni,
yet I have no clothes,
Filipe, can you not see I am distressed without even a coat?

You women,
help us to lament Kalechi.
This son of Baleka, Kalechi, he died
because he was an only son and heir.

10th movement: Njiriri Cive kwako N’ngoma, the Dancers’ Finale with Drums:

11th movement: Musitso Kugwita, Orchestral Finale

from Chopi Musicians,
by Hugh Tracey.
Oxford University Press, 1948


Footnotes

  1. It’s not known why Gomukomo begins with this appeal to the Diviners.
  2. Cast off your skins: a common Chopi expression of sorry and anger, like the “Rend your garments” of the Old Testament
  3. The complaints in this song refer to the Rand gold mines, where many Chopi work as labourers. Like the Shangaan (the Gaza people), the are labour migrants, crossing the border from Mozambique, and South Africa like the Sotho and Xhosa get all the best jobs, often by bribing the police guard at the compound gate.
  4. Being a cook was regarded as one of the best jobs.
  5. A summons to the whole village with the Call of the Dancers, to come and hear the Ng’godo, as the orchestra “thunders” with its combined drums and xylophones.
  6. Mangeni, the district governed by Chief Filipe Banguza.
  7. Travellers, for instance to the Rand, had to pay a tax to the Portuguese to leave their village.
  8. The reference is to cicatrices, cut into the skin, as fashionable adornments.
  9. The reference is to the outbreak of World War 2. Portugal was officially neutral, but labour migrants to the Rand could join the Cape Corps, a Coloured Regiment assigned to non-combative duties. Gomukomu’s “Come and hear the show” suggests he is unimpressed.
  10. With the outbreak of war, forced labour which had always existed in Mozambique, was intensifying. Within a eighteen months of this ng’godo, Circular 818/D-4 issued by the Governor-General required all Africans to work for at least 6 months each year for a European employer.
  11. The mood of the music changes as Gomukomu acknowledges his young wife complains he is neglecting her for his music.
  12. Maninya Mtumbo considers her light-coloured skin makes her beautiful. Gomukomo says she is as sweet as – not honey but bees.
  13. Like Kapitini in Katini’s 1940 ng’godo, Lakeni is a court messenger, a petty colonial official, an endless nuisance to Chief Filipe Banguza, and an open target for Gomukomu’s mockery.
  14. Zandamela used to be the best run village in Zavala District, when Mahlatini was chief. Now under his son Ngongondo, its reputation is in decline, and Gomukomu says his drinking is responsible.
  15. Two local men, recently dead, are mourned in this mabandla. The first is not named, but he was the craftsman who made the xylophones for Chief Filipe Banguza, a craft and an official position now inherited by his son Majayana, on whose instruments Gomokomu is playing. The song is an appeal for him to be better paid. The second death is Kalechi’s, a young man and the only heir to Baleka, a minor neighbouring chief.