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San Francisco: Afropop By the Bay


It turns out that the first American city to host a roster of local African bands was not New York, Miami or Chicago, but the San Francisco Bay Area of northern California. Hugh Masekela brought Hedzoleh Soundz from Ghana, and they settled in Santa Cruz. Nigerian maestros O.J. Ekemode and Joni Haastrup lived in Oakland in the 1970s. South African musicians from the touring stage show Ipitombi also settled in the Bay Area and started the band Zulu Spear. By the early ‘80s, the Bay Area “worldbeat” scene was in full swing, and along with it came Kotoja, Mapenzi, Big City, the Nigerian Allstars and more. Join us for a tour through the sounds and stories of the Bay Area’s catalytic African music scene.


San Francisco skyline (Eyre)

San Francisco skyline (Banning Eyre)

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  • marimbadearco

    The Oakland Bay Area — all this and nature too!

  • davidrubinon

    This was a great time for music in the Bay Area, Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco, Thank you so much for presenting this program and for letting the world hear the music.

  • Carlos Gomez

    I loved playing with OJ Okemode, and even composing a song for Joni Haastrup In all the years I’ve been playing percussion, these years (1970s-1980s) in the SF Bay Area were some of my happiest musical moments.
    See you all soon! I’m coming back home!

  • Cici Hyde

    For those of you interested in photos and articles about the SF Bay Area African and Worldbeat music scene in 80s, I have an archive of them posted at

  • Ian Stewart

    Wonderful Program! Thanks Banning! I have a vast collection of Brett Stewart’s Photographs, Mapenzi recordings, posters, recordings he made in Africa ,etc. as well as video I’ve shot for his band and other world beat bands, and air checks from KRON and KGO (where I worked around that time) that I am opening up to this community for free download on the currently under-construction web site: Over a hundred of Brett’s pictures are currently on display at Cresta’s 2211 Club on Polk St. in SF thru Sat. August 8th. An announcement concerning the closing event on that day is viewable on the Home page of the aforementioned site. None of the buttons work yet, but I’m working on it. The world beat scene and the community that arose around it was the greatest socially positive movement I have seen here since the 60’s. I glad I can contribute some stuff to it. Great show, AfroPop!

    • Laurel Phoenix

      Hi, Ian: I seem to be a year too late, but are the photos, video, etc. of (by) Brett still available somewhere? The links don’t seem to work. I am so sorry i didn’t know about the show when it happened!

  • Sheli Nan

    I loved this!!! congrats to everyone involved.
    Sheli Nan
    Composer, keyboard and small percussion
    The World Connectrion – Suru Eke

  • Olatoye Baiyewu

    this is like a revival. I was present at creation of Monomono when I met Ken and others. This was at Batakoto. This lightening power of awareness grew and exploded to create other artistes in Nigeria. Lagos was the place to be to hear Laolu Akins, Joni Haastrup, Berkeley Jones Mike Odumosu and their road manager Terry Ez. (Ibn Malik).