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África Negra: the cult group of São Tomé will soon have its anthology

The flagship group of the island, started in the 70s, has gone through wind and tide. The label Bongo Joe is working to reissue its greatest hits in the first volume of an anthology. While we wait for its release, (April 1st), PAM unveils one of its formidable hits.

Vence Vitória” is one of the great hits of the África Negra orchestra, which alone could represent the excellence of São Tomé’s music. Moreover, it is one of the few to have defended the flag of this island colonized by the Portuguese, which served as a place of relegation and exploitation of the labor force for the entire empire. Moreover, when the group formed by Horacio, a butcher by trade, and his friend Emidio Pontes decided to change their name to África Negra in 1974, the colonial authorities wouldn’t tolérait it, and the band, which had been called Conjunto Milando since 1972, had to adopt the much more flowery name of Girasol (“Sunflower”) for several months. A temporary change as independence was coming fast, as in the rest of the Portuguese colonies, precipitated by the Carnation Revolution. In São Tomé, it was África Negra who embodied – as in Guinea Bissau with Super Mama Djombo – the euphoria and hopes of those years.

The first records of the group, all recorded at the national radio – in the courtyard, because the studio was too small – contain great hits with a formidable punch. Some of them would be published abroad on the Portuguese label IEFE, and notably Aninha (1981) of which “Vence Vitória” is part. This is the first extract of this anthology, Volume 1, which brings together a selection of the greatest titles chosen by DJ Tom B, a great lover of African and American music, and DJ of samba schools in Paris. The album, richly illustrated, is already available for pre-order, and will be released on April 1st. In the meantime, there’s plenty to play over and over again on this song with its devilishly effective rhythm, emblematic of Puxa, the sound of São Tomé that the Bongo Joe label had already highlighted on their Léve Léve compilation. “Vence Vitória” is to be tasted without moderation, for its formidable bass and its riffs which have nothing to envy of soukouss’ best years.

Antologia Vol​.​1 by África Negra, out on April 1st via Les Disques Bongo Joe.

João Seria, lead singer of the band © Bongo Joe
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