Music of Migration
On the Northwest coast of Sri Lanka, host Jesse Hardman encountered and recorded an unusual band. They came from an ethnic group that descended from African slaves brought to the island by the Portuguese in the 1500s. They go by a name that has deep racist undertones -- and is considered very offensive in many other parts of the world. But in Sri Lanka, it is the name they call themselves: Kaffirs. There are about 2,000 members of this unique ethnic group remaining in Sri Lanka today. They call their band, Kaffir Manja.
Atesh Sonneborn is the associate director for Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. He listened to the recordings of the group and shared his first impressions.
Hear Hardman's recording of Kaffir Manja: