By MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor, Barakah, Simerg and Simergphotos)
Swahili speaking readers will take delight in listening to a series of devotional Ismaili songs composed and sung by Allidina Jamal Walji Luvungivalla which are archived at the South African Music Archives Project (SAMAP) under the theme International Library of African Music (ILAM). The project’s aim is to promote multidisciplinary research in the field of popular music and culture.
SAMAP attributes the songs as originating in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Belgian Congo) in Central Africa, and uses the keywords “Ismaili church of the Aga Khan, Religious music, Religious song” to describe all of its nine entries. However, the name Luvungivalla (belonging to the town of Luvungi) gives a very good clue about the singer’s original town (I had misidentified the singer as Mukhi Allidina Jamal of Dar es Salaam in my original piece posted in Simerg in 2013). According to Wikipedia, Luvungi is a town in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo situated on the Ruzizi River plain at the borders of Walungu and Uvira Territories in the province of South Kivu. It is close to both Rwandan and Burundian frontiers.
The 1952 recordings were done on the brittle Shellac gramophone records, although the much better Vinyl technology had been introduced by then. It appears that the nine songs were relocated by SAMAP to another library sometime in 2016, as the original link to the songs that I had provided in Simerg stopped working.
We invite our Swahili speaking readers to provide us with English translations of the 9 easy to understand short songs. The translations would help the wider readership around the world understand the songs, and appreciate the deep feelings of the singer, Allidina Jamal Walji Luvungivalla, for the Imam of the Time (Imam e Zaman). Many of his songs are punctuated by the word Aga Khan and, in the 7th song listed below, he specifically makes a reference to Sura al-Yasin in the Holy Qur’an that has the verse, “we have vested the knowledge of everything in the Manifest Imam (Imam e Mubeen).”
Please listen to the songs by clicking on the following links:
- Kwimbho ya sifu ya imam
- Kwimbho ya mpenzi wetu
- Kwimbho ya imam wetu
- Kwimbho ya zilsile ya imamt
- Kwimbho ya isah mashiya leo
- Ah ume kamatiwa
- Kwimbho ya Nooran Mubbin
- Mubarak -mubarak, imame-zaman
- Kwimbho ya nota ya Kutu
We would like to know more about Allidina Jamal Walji Luvungivalla, and we hope his family members or family friends will contact us with some details about his life, his interest in singing as well as some background to the recordings of this specific collection at SAMAP. Please write to Malik Merchant at Simerg@aol.com.
Date posted: May 18, 2020.
Last updated: May 20, 2020.
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Malik Merchant is the founding publisher/editor of Simerg (2009), Barakah (2017) and Simergphotos (2012). A former IT consultant, he now dedicates his time to small family projects and other passionate endeavours such as the publication of this website. He is the eldest son of the Late Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018) and Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant who both served Ismaili Jamati institutions together for several decades in professional and honorary capacities. His daughter, Dr. Nurin Merchant, is a veterinarian.