Africa in Revolutionary Music
Various Africa in Revolutionary Music LP (LSM, 1975)
It has become a cliche to juxtapose the tragic history of Africa since its discovery by Europe and the wealth of the music it has produced. Look at a country as fucked up as Sudan and you find one of the riches musical cultures in the world. Today we listen to some music from Angola, produced during some of the country's many dark years.
Angola was colonized by Portugal in the 15th Century and remained a colony until 1975, when three revolutionary armies, the MPLA, the FNLA, and UNITA won control of the country. Being that the MPLA was backed by Cuba & the USSR, the FNLA by the US, and UNITA by South Africa's apartheid government, there was no way that the country was going anywhere but into civil war. In the 25+ years since "independence" over a million of people have died and 5 million displaced. Fighting still continues.
During the 1970s, nearly every Third World revolutionary movement had some front in Europe and North America. These groups mainly published and distributed pamphlets in which the struggle of some people was documented with an appeal at the end to follow Lenin or Mao or Trotsky or Stalin or Castro or whomever the particular revolutionary group looked to for inspiration. Sometimes they put out records. The MPLA's spokespersons in North America were a Trotskyite group called Liberation Support Movement who had "information centers" in the San Francisco Bay Area and up in British Columbia. The LSM were the folks responsible for this record.
The record has cuts from 5 different African countries in revolution, as well as one from Brazil (which attempts to musically link the revolutionary movements in the two continents). My favorite cut is the one of MPLA & Angolan songs. I like the collage of sounds. It is especially striking when the songs moves into a MPLA soldier singing while his fellow revolutionaries attack a village.
Africa in Revolutionary Music used to be in every used bin in Northern California thanks to the tenacity of Trotsky's soldiers. Since the 1990s they have disappeared and why not? Who can pass up a jacket with a mom cradling an infant in one arm and a AK-47 in the other?