Word of the Week (174): MBAQANGA (probability 38835), by David Sutton

Way down in the lower reaches of Scrabble probability, MBAQANGA is a kind of Black African urban music; the origin of the word is uncertain but it may be related to Zulu umbaqanga, maize, porridge.

There are a good many exotic words for ethnic genres of music. BENGA is a form of Kenyan popular music featuring guitars. BHANGRA is a combination of traditional Punjabi and Western pop music. CUMBIA is a Columbian style of music. CONJUNTO is a kind of Mexican-American music that has been influenced by the music of German immigrants to Texas and that features the accordion in addition to Mexican elements.

GOOMBAY is a calypso music of the Bahamas; the word is Creole. SOCA or SOKAH is another variety of Caribbean calypso music, taking its name acronymically from SOul + CAlypso. KWAITO is a type of S. African pop music. KWELA is a kind of Zulu folk music. MARABI was a kind of music popular in South African townships in the 1930s. MENTO is a traditional Jamaican form of song or ballad.

ZOUK is a style of Caribbean dance music. ZYDECO is a popular music of southern Louisiana that combines tunes of French origin with elements of Caribbean music and the blues; it supposedly takes its name from the Creole pronunciation of les haricots, or, in French, 'the beans'.

I suppose all these varieties of music could be classed as WORLDBEAT, popular music from outside the western mainstream. But I confess to being no expert on this subject. When I used to run the local half-marathon there were always Jamaican steel bands playing along the route to provide the runners with a bit of a stimulus. The genre may have been SKA or REGGAE or REGGAETON or possibly a-lot-of-saucepans-being-banged-together, but give it credit, it certainly made me run faster for the relevant few hundred yards, till safely out of earshot.


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