“Mawethu” is traditional South African song. The word means “friends” in Xhosa.
The Pondo are a South African ethnic group. They can also be called the Mpondo, or AmaMpondo. Most of the band are from this ethnic group.
That’s some of the background out the way!
The band was set up by Dizu Plaatjies, as a percussion group. Some of the many percussion instruments that are used by the band include bass, tenor and soprano versions of the marimba, hosho shakers, akadinda xylophone, cowbells, then a range of drums.
The group also utilise traditional singing styles, in choruses and by shouts.
“Mawethu” sounds in many ways like a modern electronic song. The bass marimba provides a solid foundation, almost like a ponderous 808 bass drum. the other marimbas lay down a wall of faster sound, adding to the dense cacophony of music.
Although the music is from urban Cape Town in South Africa, I can’t help but see visions of a rainforest.
Amamponda played at Mandela’s 70th birthday, and he chose them to represent South Africa at the opening ceremony of the ’96 Olympics in Atlanta in the U.S.A.
The song was released on Uyandibiza in 1983, later reissued in 1988 as Heartbeat Of Africa.