An African music travel playlist

Posted by Linda Markovina on 11 November 2013

I am not a musical person. I have zero co-ordination and I mime at pretty much every event that includes music, including school assemblies, weddings, parties and (gulp) the national anthem. You know when you are in a group out on the town and joyfully singing along to your favorite club track and you hear a weird, strained noise that sounds like a small cat being slowly strangled? Um, that would be me. A Karaoke club is literally what I imagine my fifth circle of hell to be like.

Despite this obvious shortcoming, for me music is the fuel of travel. When I travel I imagine that I am moving along to my own personal movie soundtrack (starring Meryl Streep – in The Devil Wears Prada, not The Iron Lady).


Here is a selection of African artists, singers and songwriters who move me, quite literally, to travel:


Khona – Mafikizolo ft. Uhuru (South Africa)

Mafikizolo have been around the SA music scene for a while. After being plagued by tragedy for the past few years they have release their latest album ‘Six Mabone’, named after a classic car of the 60s. But the song ‘Khona’ is by far my favorite. Every time I play it all it makes me want to do is pick up a camera, get onto the nearest public transport and head out somewhere to start taking pictures.


Senegal Fast Food – Amadou & Mariam ft. Manu Chao (Mali)

I was introduced to Amadou & Mariam, a blind musical husband and wife duo, by a friend while traveling through Benin, and I have been a convert ever since. This Grammy award-winning duo actually came to South Africa in 2011 to perform as the opening act for U2 are both completely blind. Their music drives me to get onto a plane at the nearest opportunity and travel up the West Coast, never mind that the video is all kinds of wonderful.


Yori Yori – Bracket (Nigeria)

And then you get that one song that sticks on you like a bad rash. While we were travelling through Kenya in 2010 this was the song you could not get away from, it was played pretty much everywhere there was a radio or cd player. And now it’s kind of stuck to me. Yori, meaning ‘sweetness or a good feeling about someone or something’ in Igbo was the song that shot music duo Nwachukwu Ozioko aka Vast and Ali Obumneme aka Smash into the African musical limelight. It’s young and too much fun, the kind of song that can’t put you in a bad mood.


Annie-Flore Batchiellilys (Gabon)

Annie-Flore is a bit of a legend over on the west coast of Africa. Considered by some as the Miriam Makeba of Gabon, Annie-Flore was born in a small village just outside of Libreville. She is incredibly patriotic towards her country and its development and her music is something else. From simple beginnings she has become one of Africa’s most respected international singers. Our lives of travel began on a beach in Gabon, and Annie-Flore was the soundtrack to the start of that life, her music has a very special spot.


Lazizi – Sauti Sol (Kenya)

Bien Aime Baraza, Willis Austin Chimano, Delvin Mudigi and Polycarp Otieno make up Sauti Sol, directly translated to “Voices of light”, and are the guys that rocked the Kenyan youth around 2009 with their release of Lazizi, opening up a whole new chapter in Kenyan music. Singing about everyday issues in their songs, such as asking a girl out in Lazizi and being harassed by police officers in Blue Uniform, has elevated them to become very popular with the youth of Kenya, and you can feel it in their fresh, distinct sound. It was made to be the soundtrack to a famous movie, someday soon I hope.


Ma’ Africa ft. the Mahotella Queens and Ulali


Passion –  One Giant Leap (International mix)

Jamie Catto, the founder of Faithless and Duncan Bridgeman are two musical musos that set of on a journey, a while ago, to go and record musical jewels and words of wisdom with the cream of the world’s thinkers, writers and entertainers. The result has been described as a ‘time capsule of humanity at its most inspirational’


Main image by Ferran Jorda



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