Hamba Notsokolo – Dorothy Masuka
I am a little confused about this song as when I put the title into Google translate, it tells me that Dorothy Masuka is telling us to walk with the dragon. Now I am no expert on Zulu culture, but I can’t ever recall dragons playing a big part, so I thought that maybe Google was being flowery with their translation. But then I listened more closely to Dorothy’s clear vocals and she appeared to be singing ‘Hamba Nontsokolo’ and what a difference that extra ‘n’ makes as Google now tells me that it means ‘Walk With Crisis’. In the context of apartheid South Africa this makes much more sense.
The one thing though, that I will never understand, but can only sit back and admire, is the spirit of those who were oppressed by apartheid. They made such wonderful and upbeat music while enduring so much. ‘Hamba Nontsokolo’ is another example of this. Unfortunately I can’t understand the words of the song and have been unable to find a translation but, had I not had Google to translate the title, I would have thought this was a song about going to a party (I did understand the word ‘hamba’) or being off to see a lover. It’s a simple, yet upbeat song which seems to speak of the joys of life which, if you don’t understand the words, has one nodding along with a smile on one’s face in blissful ignorance of the message contained therein.
I have always found this juxtaposition of the upbeat music and lyrics about struggling difficult to understand. However, I came across a review of one of Dorthy’s albums and it had this line in it: ‘her warm elegance soothed generations of South Africans’. And it was the word ‘soothed’ in that review that caught my eye. This song, despite reminding the listener of the troubles they are going through, certainly has a sound that soothes. So even if, like me, you don’t understand the words but are going through a crisis, you can listen to the song and be soothed. Hamba Nontsokolo, but do so with the knowledge that there are people like Dorothy out there who can sooth a troubled spirit.
Where to find it:
Hamba Notsokolo And Other Original Hits From The 50’s – Dorothy Masuka (1993), Gallo, CDZAC60