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Art and Music


The art of Angola derives from centuries of tradition and cultural rituals. The most famous symbols are wooden masks and sculptures, which are not only merely aesthetic creations, but play an important role in rituals that celebrate the passage from childhood to adulthood, the birth and the death, the new harvest, the hunting season, etc.
The use of ceremonial masks is always accompanied with music and storytelling. In producing masks and other items, each ethno-linguistic group has distinct styles, working in wood, ivory, bronze, malachite and ceramic.


While there are several types of music that are popular in Angola, three main types come up: semba, kizomba, and  kuduro. In many of these styles, the dance and the music are one and the same.
Semba is a traditional style of music that actually has led to other types, including the famous samba style of Brazil, as well as the other two popular Angolan styles, kizomba, and kuduro. Its origin is from the word “masemba” which means “touch of the bellies,” referring to moves in semba dancing.  The rhythms are led many times by guitars, rather than drums alone.
Although there is a variety of percussion that is still used, mind you.  African music without drumming is like college without drinking (as in, it can be done, but why would you want to?). One really famous semba musician is Bonga. Because of his political view of Angolan independence, he was exiled from Angola during the early 1970s. He ended up fleeing to Europe and traveled between several different countries, yet kept up his music and recordings.
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