"TERRA PESADA": HEAVY METAL IN MOZAMBIQUE

Memories of the antipathy towards Heavy Metal
To profess an interest in Heavy Metal was once to invite looks of bemusement or pity. At least in Nigeria, in the 80s. Liking Metal meant you were either trying to imitate white people, or that you were simply "lost", as in wandered so far from your roots as an African that you'd lost touch with who you were. And that was just for listening. Not sure what would have happened if you'd actually tried to form a Metal band, but I doubt you'd have found many takers.
Even today, I'm not aware of any Metal bands in Nigeria, but in the last decade, a few have sprung up in a bunch of countries across the continent, including Madagascar, Angola, Kenya,Uganda, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and, of course, South Africa, where the scene has existed since the early 70s.



There's no reason why anyone in Nigeria should be interested in Metal - even in the States, most music fans don't listen to Metal - but it's interesting to think about why the thought of it struck people as amusing. This piece is titled "Heavy Metal in Mozambique", so why am I talking about Nigeria? Stay with me; it'll become clear in a minute.

Since independence (1960), Nigeria (and most other countries on the continent) have been open to a vast range of music styles from non-African countries, incorporating and localising funk, soul, R 'n' B, (smooth) jazz, the blues, etc. but one thing these styles have in common is that they're melodic and regularly rhythmic, and as a result lend themselves to being hummed to, danced to, sang along to or just head-bopped to. The continent as a whole boasts a staggering array of styles, and even before the days of the internet, musicians who travelled to perform would incorporate elements of what they heard elsewhere, adding more flavour to local styles. If your parents had jobs that took them to other countries on the continent, they probably returned with a few sleeves of vinyl, the sort of stuff now considered vintage, some of which have become priceless collectors' items. Radio also played a huge role in introducing Nigerians to music from other parts of the continent. Not so much from North Africa, but a lot from other West African countries and from Central Africa (especially DR Congo), and less but still something from Eastern and Southern Africa. I would find out later that this dissemination was happening in other countries, too. But if you grew up anywhere in Africa in the 70s or 80s, you will recall that all this stuff from elsewhere in Africa, all the music you heard around you was richly rhythmic in nature, possibly even polyrhythmic (particularly so, if you grew up anywhere in West Africa). Polyrhythms are the secret of Nigeria's successful musical exports today.
 
READ FULL ARTICLE AT THIS IS AFRICA

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