Sometimes referred to as amagama abadala or amagama amadlozi, ‘songs of the old people’ or ‘songs of the ancestors’, amahubo songs are associated with the elders, and are sometimes thought to be old-fashioned, although it seems that there is a resurgence in this style of music, as the youth starts to understand the importance of retaining this knowledge.
It is believed that the ancestors are present during performances of amahubo songs, and because of the centrality of ancestors in traditional religion, some people view amahubo songs as religious in nature. Another interesting aspect of amahubo songs is that they can be used to identify different clans or regions: each clan has its own ihubo song through which it defines the relationship between the ancestors and the living; in addition each region or chiefdom may also have its ihubo song. There are also amahubo songs which are regarded as ‘national’ amahubo.
With such a long history, there is far more to the story of amahubo songs than we’ve discussed here. Look out for future Ulwazi articles to find out more!
Image courtesy of www.projectzulu.org