African Cinema: Bass-heavy and bum-shaking

2014-05-25 15:00

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Portuguese director Mario Patrocinio first came across kuduro in the ­Lisbon clubs he visited in the 1990s. His documentary, I Love Kuduro – From Angola To The World, premiered in Rio last year, nearly two decades later.

It explores the impact of kuduro as a lifestyle in Luanda and beyond by following iconic ­kuduristas Bruno de Castro, Eduardo Paim, ­Sebém, Nagrelha, Hochi Fu, Os Namayer, ­Tchobari, Titica, Francis Boy and Cabo Snoop.

Kuduro (“hard ass”) is an urban cultural movement born in Angola in the last decade of the devastating four-decade civil war after independence.

It is so named because the dancers literally look like they have hard asses. I Love Kuduro takes you on a journey through the streets, rooftops, soccer stadiums, stages and halls in which the dance is performed.

The godfather of the movement explains that kuduro became a non-spoken expression of ­living in Angola.

It came to mean “I am Angola”. It makes sense then that the inspiration for kuduro is found everywhere – from the sounds of generators or children playing to the way chickens walk.

In the vibrant film, kudurista Francis Boy ­explains that it was through kuduro that he was able to express what it was like to fight in the Angolan army.

The marching of soldiers can inspire a kuduro move. The more you watch, the more you ­realise that I Love Kuduro is in fact a fascinating glimpse into how Angolans are using music and dance to tell their stories.

Kuduro came about in a time of civil unrest and provided a means of coping with hardship. It was a signal of positivity for the younger generation.

As one of the kudurista says: “Everyone has a problem right? Certain stressful issues right? But in that ­moment [of performing ­kuduro], all you have is peace, you know?”

Nagrelha of The Lambas (who started their career as a criminal gang before becoming a musical one) opens performances with the chant “Daddy’s ­arrived” and the crowd ­responds: “Hunger’s over!”

I Love Kuduro shows Angolans dealing with their past and shaping their present. Music and dance is a force for reimagining a society.

Even South Africans – famously xenophobic – started getting down to kuduro in 2010, thanks to Cabo Snoop’s infectious Windeck.

In response, kuduro has evolved to include influences from the places it has touched. From South African House music to American pop culture.

I Love Kuduro is a beautiful, bass-heavy, bum-shaking glimpse into a movement that is familiar, but also uniquely Angolan, which includes all shapes and sizes, and crosses dividing lines between gay and straight, young and old, rich and poor.

Kuduro as an equaliser is at its most evident in the story of Titica, a gay gender activist who uses her profile to challenge a ­conservative and often homophobic Angolan society. For the hugely popular Titica, kuduro is a way to bring issues into the light.

She says that “being the first transvestite in Angola, I want to do my bit?...?I want to be as famous as Coca-Cola.”

And Titica can probably do it because ­“kuduro is a way to show our potential, the ­Angolan strength”.

» I Love Kuduro – From Angola To The World will be screened at the Encounters ­SA International Documentary Festival, which starts on June 5. Visit for details

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