teta lando

Teta Lando has died. He has passed away. In Paris. With cancer.

Senhora escutai minha voz… Senhora listen to my voice, letting me weep without ever stopping, Senhora listen to my voice, Now that you want to love me no more… Senhora, don’t make me me cry any more, don’t make me any suffer any more. Senhora, don’t make me cry any more, don’t make me suffer any more…

A friend, José, wrote to me this morning to tell me: ‘It cannot be true that only yesterday afternoon we were sitting together enjoying the melody of Teta Lando on your laptop… The Angolan people have lost one more great musician and composer. May his soul rest in peace.’

Quimbembaaaa Quimbembaaaa Quimbembaaa Quimbembaaa

Oh yes. We sat here yesterday, exactly at this desk from where I write now, and we listened to Teta Lando’s wonderful voice. We played Eu vou voltar (I will return) and Ievelela o Kangila (The little bird sings). I told José how I had struggled to listen to Teta Lando’s songs at all when I had first returned to London in 2001, after over two years living in Angola. A friend had bought me the double disc Memórias 1968 *1990 and I would play it in on my Walkman on the 38 bus, from Hackney to The Strand, and I would often have to leave the bus, to stand on the pavement and sob with the surge of saudades that his music has always provoked. It was like a form of torture, and strangely masochistic. I love to hear Teta Lando sing, but it always reduces me to memories that are too much to hold inside and too much to remember. Too much. And here I am listening to him now, struggling not to remember, but wanting to remember, but struggling to try to forget. This is often how I start my writing process each morning: listening to Teta Lando and remembering. When to turn the music off and write? How far should I let myself go? Too much and I cannot write, I can barely stand to start the day. Too little, and I am choked by the harsh cruel light of Johannesburg.

There are several – many – of his songs that I don’t fully understand. He sings in Kikongo and Portuguese, and I think, sometimes, Quimbundo, but I could be wrong. I can understand the Portuguese but am lost in the other two languages. Not that you always need to understand the words to appreciate his music. Mumpiozo is sung in a mix of I think Kikongo and Portuguese. There are bits of it I don’t understand, and bits I do. But I am sure I understand the whole song. I know what he is telling me.

To forget all my sadness… To forget what I cannot say… To forget all my loves… To forget all that which I cannot say… It is to forget my thoughts… To forget all my sadnesses…

For many years, while I waited for visas to return to Angola, and while I tried to work out ways that I could fund another trip back to that great country, I would listen over and over to Eu vou voltar:

The sporting at São Paolo, the social centre/ Maria… Faria…/ Those lost ones/ The maritime off the Ilha/ I know that I will return, I will return, But still, I must wait, I will return, but still, I must wait…

The place where I was born, where I lived, where I grew up, where I played, those paths where I walked, those bushes that saw my father killed, I want to go back and see, I want to go back and see…

The place where the mother of my children and I fell in love, where I kissed my first lover, I will go back and see, but I still must wait. I will go back. The question is the wait… I will go back, but I will have to wait… Where I have written all those letters full of saudades… My response is to sing… I will go back… I will go back… but, still, I must wait… I will go back.. the question is to wait. I will go back, but the question is the wait….

I must thank the journalist, Mario Vaz, who introduced me to this music. It was back then in 2000 that I had always hoped I would make a programme about Teta Lando. When I was in Luanda in 2007, I wrote to the BBC and suggested a half hour programme on his music. The producers never wrote back. I tried several times. Never any reply. I should have just gone ahead and made it anyway. What a fool. This year, whilst back in Angola, I went to the musician and artists’ union in Mutamba, and asked for Teta Lando’s contacts. A kind plump lady behind a desk told me he had gone to Paris and she did not know when he would be back. She gave me her number, and told me to call again. I did. But still, she said, he was in Paris. I tried again. And still, she said, he is in Paris. And still… and still…

You, you beautiful African woman with tight curly hair, Don’t ruin your hair by trying to straighten it… Don’t ruin your hair by trying to straighten it, you beautiful black woman with curly hair…

In contrast to many Angolan musicians of his age who were supporters or members of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), Teta Lando was, in his earlier life, associated with the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) of Holden Roberto. Prior to independence in 1975, he fled to neighbouring Zaire, and then spent many years in France yearning to return home to Angola. He was always popular among the Angolan people, appealing to the povo in the musseques of Luanda. His songs are about suffering, the war, and pleas for peace, (Irmão Ama Teu Irmão – Brother love your brother), and often nostalgic melodies which look to the simplicity of his childhood years. I wish I had met him. Oh, how I wish I had met him.

Those beautiful times of my childhood, Oh what beautiful times in my childhood, Oh!

This is for you to listen to. First time I’ve tried uploading sound so I hope it has worked:

Ievelela o kangila

If that does not work, you can also try the esnips site which I’ve linked to above (see two top links) although I notice that some of the music – for example Eu vou voltar – is absolutely not Teta Lando. And if anyone out there can help me translate all his songs into Portuguese – so I can fully appreciate his lyrics – I’d be extremely grateful.

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2 thoughts on “teta lando

  1. Learned of your blog through M. John Harrison’s recommends and links, just wanted to say your writing and blog are wonderful. It’s not easy to write so well about music, especially music that has had such great personal impact- That seems too clinical a term, sorry. What I’m fumbling my way toward trying to say, I guess, is that although I’m not (yet- I’ll check out the file you posted) familiar with Teta Lando’s music, and so feel a little uncertain about commenting at all- I hope that many who love and miss him read your tribute. It will, I think, do them much good.

  2. Thanks Mark. I think anyone can appreciate Teta Lando, though it is even better when you know the languages. It was partly because of his music that I was inspired to improve my Portuguese so much. Now, I guess I’d better learn Kikongo which could prove a bit harder!
    BTW – your pictures look pretty fab too. I’ve just had a glimpse. Beautiful. I like that floating pot…

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