The African Roots of Arab Belly Dancers – Music

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20 thoughts on “The African Roots of Arab Belly Dancers – Music”

  1. Before I had a discussion with a curator of a museum in San Francisco,U.S.the Africaness of”Arab Belly Dancing was apparent though books&tv surely would not say so.
    Pamela McDonald I hope you’ve seen some of these videos that
    show what you explained to me.

  2. Awilo is a huge star in Africa. I like him too only that he gets too much some times. Anyways I like the example you put up. Flexibility in its elegance.

  3. Somalians women dance like this girl from Arabia.

    Awilo has a huge sucess in Africa.

    However the best singers or crews in RDC ‘ ex Zaire are):

    – Werrason and WENGE Maison Mère
    – JB Mpiana and WENGE BCBG
    – Fally Ipupa ( the New generation) , he is the best actually with Ferre Gola ( New generation too) .

    In the Old generation you have Franco and his crew OK TP JAZZ, or Zaiko Langa Langa. More traditional and close to their african culture.

    The musicians and singers in RDC have always been the best, save the Black President aka Fela Anikulapo Kuti from Nigeria.

    His sound can make you crazy

  4. Hi Jahdey and Nehesy

    I just discovered this Werrason on youtube and this makes me want to get back into African dance classes. I agree, the gracefulness, flexibility and control is what I have always liked about Congolese, and notice it has much in common with Haitian and some Afro-Cuban forms and south Egyptian belly dance aside from Somali. I ‘m just surprised to see it has so much in common with modern Arabian dance – though I probably shouldn’t be. Perhaps the women in the video are from the Khaleeji area in the Gulf.

  5. Hi Dana and Jahdey

    You impress guys me I didn’t know that sisters and brothers in the USA were interested so much about the musicians and singers of Africa.

    Congolese are the best musicians, and dancers in Africa. Their music have a huge sucess in all parts of black Africa (east, central, west, south).

    In French suburb the girls from the west indies and Africa love congo music. And they dance wery well too. In our suburb it’s mainly Hip-Hop ( my first love) , Congolese music, and Dancehall ( Capleton the prophet, Benny Man, Bounty Killer, Sean paul etc).

    Shaggy went to Zaire 2 years ago I think , in order to do a concert with Werrason, he discovered him in 2007 in South Africa.

    And indeed I traveled a lot in the west indies ( Cuba, Dominican Republic), I saw brothers who liked like congolese in Santo Domingo (specially Haitians) , senegalese, ibos, yorubas etc. This is why I like these places it looks to me like the mother country.

    And definitly Afro-Cuban music ( Orquesta Aragon specially the first generation, Mongo Santamaria, Chano Pozo, Benny Moré) , and even Merengue is african music. The African Rhythm is the key for all the music styles in the west indies and in North America.

    Rap Music reminds me the Storytellers of West Africa or Griots who also Rap on their traditional instrument called KORA, Soul music, Blues, Jazz etc have the african touch/Spirit/Soul/Rhythm.

    Werrason :

    His hugest sucess , ” Solola Bien” :

    – Tindika Lokito :

  6. Hey Jahdey/Nehesy,

    Well here is some youtube dancing of girls from the Werrason troupe I like.

    I think this dancing is really beautiful. Too bad we Americans haven’t learned it as part of our tradition. I see similar dancing in Haiti though. Its very fluid and graceful but takes a lot of control of the pelvic area like more Northern belly dance in Africa. in fact this seems to be good balance of focus on both belly and backside where as Somali and the Arabic dancing in the video seems to focus more on the backside. Anyway, I’m sure both ways are pretty healthy for you.

    As for the videos Nehesy, I think they are very creative and the JP Mbiana one is quite interesting. ANyway the music makes me think of good times I had going out in New York when they had some nice African clubs there. One was called Kilimanjaro and the othe S. O. B.s

    I was actually introduced to African music as a student in college but learned a lot more about it becoming friends with European people. one was from Germany who was an agent who worked with Fela and Salif Keita and people of that sort. She introduced me to the head of something we have in the United States called Afropop worldwide a radio show. They have a web site I think.

    There are a lot of people interested in African dance in the U.S. but not as many AAs know about the music as they should. I probably know or have more interest in it because I was involved in that world for some time and worked with people from African music world. Believe it or not, there are a lot of white Americans and Europeans more interested in African music than African Americans are. The same thing goes for jazz and blues.

    I agree and, i think most people would, that African music forms the basis for a lot of Western music and that’s not just in the Americas. We have music from Mali, Nigeria and West Africa that was the foundation for blues, bluegrass and probably jazz to some extent. Then of course there is gospel and country. Somehow Congo, Angola is heard stronger in the Caribbean and South America. Supposedly Yoruba and other Nigerian also played a strong part in music and culture in Brazil and the Caribbean. At least the same deities are throughout that area. I was even surprised to learn that traditional village music of the Ivory Coast sounds so close to our early country music. That i had to say was very strange as most people think of black American music as far away from country.

    i’m not sure if West Africans won’t give the Congolese a run for their money as far as drumming goes. That is to say I will not argue about which African drummers are better because I know drumming is excellent in many parts of Africa.

    Also, i’m not the biggest fan of hip hop but I think it also recognized as being somehow linked to African traditions by music historians here in the U.S. as well. i prefer the African griots better though.

  7. Hi Dana

    Congolese drummers are the best in Africa, like Afro-cuban music, their music is based on the rhythm defined by the drummer and there is a lot of guitar playing too.

    The Conga/Drummer or sound represents life in many African Religions/cultures.

    They remind me the Drummer players that I saw in some videos in USA ( about blues) , and some masters like John “Jabo” Starks or Clyde Stubblefield , drummers of James Brown during his best period with his group named the JB’s.

    I’m sure at 100 % that James Brown are from the Congo region, he has the typical Bantu-Congo Phenotype. Tisha Campbell Martin has also the typical Bantu/Congo face. In the Show Martin they used to mock her “Big Head” but she actually she has a Mangbetu head witthout the “deformation” process though.

    What is also very strange is the manners (talking, hands , using the head or body) of Afro-Americans women, you’re like your sisters in Africa.

    I remember also the movie RIZE, it was very impressing to see how Afro-descendant in the USA where Afro-religions and Languages were forbidden and lost , could reproduce such moves without knowing Africa.

    Some dance from my country Senegal : Youssou N’Dour in Live at Paris

    And if you have the chance to visit the island of Gorée in Senegal, all the brothers over there are Rastas.

    GOD Bless Mother Africa and his children all over the world.

  8. hi Nehesy – well I must ask if it is your opinion about the Conga drummers or is that generally agreed in Africa. I remember a very famous drummer I think from Nigeria that was also well known in America. Who was this?

  9. Hi Dana

    Yes of course it’s generally agreed in Africa, the conga has a religious/spiritual purpose first :

    – Calling the spirit of ancestors
    – Calling some other spirits
    – Calling some deities ( or more accurately the different aspects of the ONE GOD, like the Egyptian concept of neteru)

    Each Rhythm has his own purpose : Birth, Funeral, Dance,Medicinal, Religious, coronation (like the Sed festival of ancient pharoahs); secret messages (this is how the african destroyed the french army in Haiti in 19th century) , wars; It’s like different mathematics code.

    The Africans deported in Hispaniola ( Haiti & Dominican Republic), Puerto Rico, Brazil, Cuba etc, were able to conserve their original religion. But I can feel it in soul music too of the early 70′ ( Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, Marvin Gaye)

    The African conga master Babatunde Olatunji (may be you’re talking about him) from Nigeria says :

    ” Rhythm is the soul of life. The whole universe revolves in rhythm. Everything and every human action revolves in rhythm”

    This is why in the bible (Jews and Christians) or even muslims say that creation started with vibration:

    – GOD saying “BE”

    The vibration of his “voice” launched the creation of the universe.

    There is a lot of esoteric knowledge regarding Rhythm/Vibration/Music.

    All masters congas drummers of Afrocuban music knew the African religion principles very well: Chano Pozo (who played with many Jazz Men) , Mongo Santamaria, Aristides Soto aka Tata Guines etc.

    I bought last year in Cuba a CD coffret named “Anthology of Afro-Cuban Music ” , I recommend it to you (old african rituals in Cuba) , or you can also find Babatunde Olatunji ‘s DVD ” African Drumming”.. You have also the master brazilian conga/drummer Carlinhos Brown.

    I bought as well many invaluable books about Afrocuban religion system, and it’s very cheap down there.

    The music named Salsa by New York Latinos wouldn’t exist without the African Religious system, even the CLAVES has a spiritual purpose, one representing the male the other the female.

    The Bongo is well known is Senegal and they used it a lot in Salsa like the Puerto Rican Master Roberto Roena (the man with the Afro who danced):

  10. Hi Nehesy – Ok now I see what you are saying. i didn’t know Olatunji’s drumming was also Conga. Is Congo considered the same as Congolese drumming. I was using the word Congolese in the sense of the country Congo. I agree with you now that the Conga drumming is definitely the most complex form of drumming in Africa and definitely can move the spirit and make the ancestors come alive so to speak.

    Actually, I had tried to take a drumming course when in college where I learned about the Clave beats. Many of the Puerto Ricans men coming to the course in fact already knew about the significance of the drumming and practice African type religion. Very few African Americans, however, showed up at these sessions which I think is a shame. Many our or Hispanic countrymen here from the Caribbean are thankfully preserving the African heritage and traditions for us to learn in the U.S.

  11. Hi Dana

    Ok I see, when I said congolese drummers were the best in Africa, I was talking about their skills with “European” Drummers, but they’re usually inspired by their traditional Rhythm , defined by their elders (with congas which they used in their country).

    But generally speaking the congolese are the best musicians in Africa, specially guitar and drummers.

    They’re music is copied a lot in many African countries, and in all night club in Africa their music is played. For instance, in Ivory coast they created a new style called ” Coupé – Décalé” which means ” Cut and Run” and it’s actually congolese music with Ivory coast “sauce”:

    Usually during the African “grammy awards” they win everything, Awilo won it 3 times at least, Werrason and Koffi Olomidé too.

    This is a video of one the most gifted singer of Congo (RDC), Ferre Gola :

    I think they have much sucess because their language called Lingala is very nice.

    I have to visit New York some day you have a big melting pot in this town.

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