In Angola, music and dancing is very important in daily life. Angolan music was created as far back as the 1940s when the group Ngola Ritmos introduced hard-hitting urban music to the country while it was still under Portuguese rule. At that time they sang in native languages, used national rhythms and produced music with messages calling for Angolan nationalism. Music pre-independence is now seen to have played a central role in the fight for freedom.
Immediately post-independence music lyrics became very political, mirroring the situation in the country. As a result the quality of music suffered and after a flying start from the forties to the mid-seventies its evolution stagnated.
But in the late eighties, Angolan music started to re-emerge thanks to new talent that was creating infectious rhythms. Still using day-to-day living as inspiration, new groups and singers revitalised the music scene and lifted spirits during the ongoing civil war.
In the early 1990s a new type of music became the hit in Angola, the Kuduru – Angolan hip-hop with its own local rhythms and themes. This type of music is as loud as heavy-metal and its message is always very strong, whether the lyrics speak of love, war, sex, peace or social degradation.
Be it slow and seductive or hard-hitting and controversial, Angolan music has moved and grown with the times. The contemporary music scene now bursts with exciting tunes and beats that leaves no one standing still. Semba; Kizomba; Capoeira; Kabetula; etc. represents most popular rhythms in Angola.
Angolan semba is an ancient rhythm, traditionally accompanied by smooth undulations of the hips and belly. Semba was originally danced to celebrate good harvests, marriages, births and other occasions. It developed in Angola’s coastal centers, especially Luanda and Benguela during the 17th century. To this day, semba is regarded as the music of the sea.
Before Portuguese missionaries spread Christianity throughout the country, Angolans used to dance semba as a way of worshipping their gods, especially the mermaid Kianda, goddess of the sea. Every year, Angolans would hold celebrations near the sea, throwing food, clothes and other gifts into the water as offerings to Kianda.
Such practices came to an almost complete stop after independence, although animism is still practiced in some parts of Angola. The gods of the forest, known as maiombolas, are held in high regard, especially in heavily forested areas such as Cabinda.
It is impossible to talk about Angolan music without mentioning the nation’s passion and talent for dancing. Typical Angolan dance-à-deux styles are the Semba and the Kizomba. In the late 90’s the Tarrachinha style of dancing became the favorite among the youth.
- Semba is a more formal ballroom dance. It’s usually a dance-à-deux but it can also be a chance for soloists to take to the floor.
- Kizomba is a mix of intricate ‘passadas’ moves danced to the rhythm of lively zouk and semba tunes.
- Tarrachinha is danced very slowly with the pair almost stopped in one spot for the whole music duration. It’s undeniably seductive.
To embrace the various dance styles, at parties and nightclubs Angolan DJs play all types of music – from kizomba to rock; from funk to pop to the latest music charts hits.
Carnival is very important culture activities in Angola. Once a year everybody in Angola observe this carnival manifestation.
Once synonymous to slavery, outlaws and violence, Capoeira is now well known all over the world as an art form, and has fascinated thousands. Capoeira is divided in two parts: Capoeira Regional and Capoeira Angola. Capoeira Regional is a modern and popular form of capoeira. Capoeira Angola is the original form, created in Brazil by African slaves. Capoeira Angola has roots in the wedding rituals of the Bantu tribe, where the Dance of the Zebra, the N´golo, was a sparring between young warriors. That is why the Zebra ispart of the Capoeira Angola logo. Capoeira Angola is a sparring between friends, an exciting game in the middle of the “roda”, a ring formed by musicians and singers. It is fight, dance, play, music and philosophy, all in one. For years Capoeira was practiced in secrecy and it was not lawful to practice and teach until after the 1930s; forty years after the abolition of slavery. Berimbau is an instrument related with capoeira, it commands the roda, and determines the kind of fight (Ango a or Regional)