Pops Mohammed on the land and the re-release of Kalamazoo
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Pops Mohammed on the land and the re-release of his iconic album Kalamazoo

5 Jun 2019 MUSIC

By Zuko Komisa

Multi-instrumentalist Pops Mohamed has been making indigenous music all his life, he recently sat down and shared his journey with Mike Siluma on Karibu. His name Pops came about from his fascination with ‘Popeye the sailor man’ which led to him picking up the name ‘Pops’,

Pops plays a total of 18 instruments, all ranging from popular, ancient and deeply historic gems from around the world. Playing the African Piano the Mbira, he gave Afropolitans a prime example of the acoustic quality of this ancient instrument.

“This is one of Africa’s oldest instruments, it actually originates from Zimbabwe, an instrument with 15 notes,” he says. Adding that there is a larger one with over 23 notes called “Mbira dza Bandzimo”which means the spirit of our ancestors.

A Masterful Storyteller

“Music has always been a big part of communities, an example of this is the San culture when you join a group of people you need to tell your story. You have to tell them how you started your day and arrive where you are, that means your story would start with what you did that morning.” He says while all this is happening the IQhuma instrument would be playing.

In his conversation, he recalls his many encounters with the indigenous cultures across the continent and how music has been used to speak to the ancestors.

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His album Kalamazoo “the mirage of reflecting river,”was first released in 1991. The album was named after an informal settlement in the East Rand where people were eventually displaced by the Apartheid government. At the height of the Kalamazoo there were jam sessions where musicians would fuse traditional musical instruments and ancient music. This, Pops Mohammed says is his truest identity. The album has recently been re-released, 16 years later.

Listen to the full conversation here:

Speaking to Mike Siluma, he says many of the cultures that connect to the ancestor through music all agree that to connect to God, you have to make an appointment with the ancestors.

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The Land

On the topic of the land, he affirms that the original inhabitants of the land have the rights to claim ownership of the South African land.

“The Khoisan people have been in South Africa as long as 50 000 years and have spread around the world, everywhere you go you will find the Khoisan people. This is where we find ourselves, they were the first people in South Africa.” Hebelieves land needs to be redistributed and that the injustice needs to be corrected.

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