Ernest Kanjo / Thursday, 07 October 2010 15:02

Zangalewa

This writer was just a little school boy, about to go to college when in 1987 a new phenomenon hit TV screens in Cameroon.  Television was new in Cameroon and anything we watched was nothing else but magic.  This time it was an irresistible group of military singers with masked faces, protruded tummies and bulging buttocks who danced dexterously. The professional institution where my dad was teaching had just acquired a TV set for its students and we would illegally leave home to join them in savouring the motion pictures.

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This day we returned home and hardly went to bed without jumping around in a bid to simulate the military singers and dancers which happened to have been the most inspiring thing we had watched since the coming of TV to Cameroon, just over a year ago. And even when we retired to sleep, I vividly remember, in my dream, seeing these soldiers performing as scores of counterparts marched pass.

This music clip later became the opium for Televiewers not only in Cameroon but in the Central African sub region and other parts of the continent. That was the Golden Sounds, later known as Zangalewa after the track which catapulted the group to fame. Their three-segment piece which has always been simply referred to as Zaminamina fast became a theme song for several groups including schools. Even the coming of Casque Coloniale, their second album did not erase what could be described as an uninfringing love for Zaminamina.

In subsequent albums, each Zangalewa member was indentified with a particular track. At times, the military artistes opted for duos. For instance, Emile Kojidie's Malumba with Zulu beatings was an admirable piece just like Maladie Difficile and Mon Bebe of Ze Bella and Annie Anzouer. By now, Zangalewa had become a group everyone desired to love and love again.

But just when the taste of the pudding had gotten to climax, the undesirable occurred - a silent split. In a rather very competitive album, Annie Anzouer, the lone female singer of the group released Casser Remplacer in 1993. With the soul-searching Mousouloki, a remix from one of Ekambi Brilliant's prominent albums, Annie became so popular to the extent that her Zangalewa d   ays were quickly forgotten. The talented singer herself became too resistant to nostalgia and would hardly bother to recall the old experience. The lead singer of the band, Ze Bella went solo and could be spotted with some less impressive tracks that created little impact on the music-loving public. A few times, mostly on local private TV channels, the famous 1987 Zaminamina would be played but with little or no effect on contemporary viewers who had been drowned in the stupor of modern music including Hip-Hop and RnB. 

Also in sporadic media interviews, former members of the band would be asked to explain what caused the split but none of them ever said something concrete until it was certain the Zangalewa story had come to an end.

Then came the Shakira chapter. From nowhere, the Columbian -born RnB icon set in to make dreams of Zangalewa fans to see the group resurface someday come true. In the famous Waka Waka, she regurgitated Zaminamina to the great delight of the entire Cameroon. But while Zangalewa addicts praised Shakira for the picking out the Cameroonian song, her Hip-Hop fans were simply proud their model had been privileged to do the World Cup song.

To the golden singers all of whom have advanced in age and metamorphosized physically, it is one of such big honours that comes up only once in a lifetime. "To have chosen our song, Shakira saw something good in us. We are really honoured that a musician of that calibre should appreciate and borrow from what we did long ago," , Guy Dooh alias Big Belle Ngalle of Zangalewa had reacted when rumours spread that the Cameroonians were dragging Shakira to court. Would they rather celebrate or drag Shakira to court for reviving a project they let go just like that? Would they be so ignorant not to understand that height of public relations to be generated from one of the most popular World Cup tournaments ever organized? Or, didn't they know the singer who was doing a remix of Zaminamina was a mega Hip-Hop star? These were some of the worries that hovered around, but little did Cameroonians know the ex-military singers rather felt really blessed.

Naturally, because of Shakira, the group is back on its feet but with what might? A much-loved vocalist of the group passed on some years back and Annie Anzouer who had become so fun of going solo apparently still thinks on those grounds. There have been doubts if she would return to Zangalewa. An up-coming tour with Shakira in the US could answer the question, but that would be if the project materializes. For now, let's wait and see, but Shakira has entered the annals for having revived Zangalewa.


Last Updated on Sunday, 16 January 2011 03:02


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