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/ˈkweɪlə; ˈkwɛlə/
a type of pop music popular among the Black communities of South Africa
Word Origin
C20: said to be from Zulu or Xhosa: jump up
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
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Encyclopedia Article for kwela


(Zulu: "to climb"), popular urban dance music of South Africa. Coined by Elkin Sithole in the 1940s to refer to choral response in Zulu vocal music, the term kivela had been broadened by the 1950s to refer to the music of street bands playing penny whistles, who also performed at township dances. Subsequently one or two acoustic guitars and a string bass were added. The kivela repertoire came to include North American swing music, standard from the 1950s on. In the 1950s Spokes Mashiyane and Lemmy Special Mabaso were well-known kivela flute and saxophone players, and the style spread to Rhodesia and Nyasaland (now Malawi). During the 1960s the Malawi musicians Donald and Daniel Kachamba became prominent. In Johannesburg, kivela was also known as jive

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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