Recommended by Charles Mudede
Back in the 1980s, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) only operated between five in the afternoon and midnight, and in the hour or so before programming started, their station would accompany the transmission test pattern with music. Often this music was by Abdullah Ibrahim (who in the deep past of Cape Town, South Africa, was known as Dollar Brand), and often the tunes that flowed from the TV’s speakers were either Ibrahim’s exquisitely affirmative “Zimbabwe” or his masterpiece of jazz-jive “Mannenberg.” The African sun would be in the Harare sky, insects buzzing in the bright air, the dog basking on the veranda, copper light falling in the living room, my body reposed on a sofa, and all around me the sorrowful, lyrical, loop-like jazz of the great South African pianist. What Ibrahim accomplished as an artist was to end the split between lyrical sensitivity and aggressive percussiveness. He is one of the giants of Africa.