'this is one of the best samplers of African music you can get' fRoots

It should come as no surprise that the continent that invented instruments which gave rise to everything from violins, lutes, guitars and drums would also be home to some of the most infectious children’s music on the planet. This Rough Guide presents a playful selection of young-at-heart music. 

On the island of Madagascar, Lala Njava’s advice in ‘Dinako’ explains that personal responsibility extends into village life through giving back to one’s community. Similarly, on the opposite end of the continent, in Mali, Vieux Farka Touré explains in ‘Fafa’ (‘Brotherhood’) about the importance of helping each other, and the responsibility of preserving memories.

Congo’s groundbreaking band Staff Benda Bilili created instruments out of recycled garbage, using objects such as an old fish can, wooden boxes and old guitar strings, became the subjects of a critically acclaimed documentary, and now tour the world, performing at some of the world’s most prestigious festivals. Amadou & Mariam are famous the world over and contribute ‘M’bife’ to this Rough Guide.

Samba Mapangala and his band have legendary status in Kenya. His music is a magical mix of rumba and soukous from Congo and traditional styles from Kenya and Tanzania. Sauti Sol also draw on Kenyan influence and blend warm, resonant pop with sparkling guitar lines and excitable drums.

Etran Finatawa from Niger bring the breathless hear and shimmering horizon of the Sahara to life on ‘Gourma’. The album closes with a track by Sotho Sounds, a band made up of five funky shepherds from Lesotho who make all their own instruments turning junk items into melodious guitars and drums – turning junk into funk!

The full length bonus album is by Saba, an Italian-Somali singer whose music imbues a rare sensitivity and gentle humour. Listen out for mixing acoustic guitars, koras, traditional African beats and contemporary percussion.