Ngola Ritmos were the first modern band to sing in kimbundu,and were the group that shaped semba to it's present form and infused to Angolan society a dream about a national identity.,Activists of the resistance against the Portugese colonialists, transmitting musical messages about the necessity of change in Angola's sleeping spirit, after 500 years of occupation."The message was, be prepared for tomorrow," and the group that laid some solid foundations for modern Angolan music should never be forgotten,thanks to our times that permit us to have some glimpses to this,not very distant era and learn from these people while alive ,before their story is wiped by the time
Liceu Vieira Dias, Domingos Van-Dúnem, Mário da Silva Araújo, Manuel dos Passos and Nino Ndongo created around 1947 the Ngola Ritmos band, in order to assert their Angolan identity. They sung kimbundu music with guitar and small percussion.
In the 1950s, the band comprised Liceu, Nino, Amadeu Amorim, José Maria, Euclides Fontes Pereira, José Cordeira, Lourdes Van-Dúnem and Belita Palma. Their lamentos were inspired by the daily chronicles or funeral laments sung by bessangana women and their sembas by popular dances.
Carlitos Vieira Dias once said: "The semba is an adaptation of the kazukuta rhythm.
My father transposed the kimbundu rhythms for the guitar.
He knew European, Portuguese and Brazilian music. He composed in the minor mode, notably the lamentos". Zé Maria quote of Liceu: ”He was a master. He was the leader of Ngola Ritmos and gave us the matrix for musical conception. His mom and mine acted as our judges. When they told us it wasn’t good enough, we had to go back and rehearse some more“.
Ngola Ritmos created a style that would inspire generations of musicians.
The lead guitar introduced the theme and often intervened in counterpoint to the voice.
The second guitar ensured the rhythmic frame, the bass guitar (six-stringed at the time) marked the beat, almost like a percussion, while the drum and dikanza (scraped instrument) backed up the ensemble. Singing was inspired by popular traditions, the chorus answering the lead voice.
While such songs as Mbiri Mbiri, Kolonial, Palamé or Muxima have been covered by numerous singers, recordings by Ngola Ritmos are very rare. Muxima and Django Ué were recorded in Luanda.
Most of the members of Ngola Ritmos were nationalist militants, Liceu, a founding member of the MPLA liberation movement and Amadeu were arrested in 1959 and deported to the Tarrafal prison in Cape Verde, to return only ten years later.
Nevertheless, the band lasted until the late sixties, recording the song Nzagi in Lisbon. The heritage of Ngola Ritmos is not only a music genre. It is also a state of mind, an attitude."