Batila: Tatamana

February 23, 2022

All the Right Signs

Listening Post 337. At the junction of multiple roads you often see signs pointing in many directions, and Batila’s debut solo album is a crossroads of sorts. Son of Congolese and Angolan parents, he was raised in Germany and England and now lives in Berlin, but his destination is more about identity—encompassing freedom, cultural integrity and Black love—than a place on the map. His signs are esoteric but he invites us in: Batila, his name, is Kikongo for “one who protects and holds together;” Tatamana means “hold on to what you love,” the title appearing on the album cover in Latin letters and also the Mandombe script created for Central African languages. And the traditional Congolese mask in the artist’s hands represents beauty and strength. Symbols aside, Tatamana is about the journey of a diaspora African channeling personal and social commentary into engaging songs. Singing in Lingala and English, he touches on struggle and spirituality, understanding and prejudice, frustration and resilience, in what he calls Bantu Soul, a musical junction of genres that includes Afrobeat, reggae, jazz and hip hop. In Kindoki (Witchcraft, video 1), Batila invokes his ancestors as he seeks the wisdom stripped away by Africa’s colonial overlords; while in Ba Nzambe Ya Se (Gods on Earth, video 2) he extols his parents for their guidance and sacrifice. Naboyi (I Refuse, video 3) rejects foreign spirituality, and Afreekan (video 4) seeks paradise on firm ground rather than in the clouds. And a lilting merengue beat makes Awa (I Am Crying, video 5) one of the album’s standout love songs. Early in his career Batila headed a hip-hop band, wrote songs for soukous legend Papa Wemba and worked with an array of German artists, all leading toward Tatamana junction. The signs point to many things and one conclusion: Worthy is the son who honors his heritage by venturing forth and enlarging it. (Galileo Music)

Batila: Tatamana / Hold on to What You Love
Batila (Batila Ange da Costa): Lead vocals, backing vocals, acoustic guitar
Acoustic guitars: Abraham Kiyaba
Additional programming: Damien Press, Jjd
Backing Vocals: Dana Shanti, Micky Rose, Moli Mokelenge, Nathalie Nsingani, Leans Jacques Lemba, Tsega Tebege, Jackline Wanjiru, Jjd
Backing vocal, electric guitar, drums: Dodo NKishi, Tunde Alibaba
Bass: Jeff Chappah, Jean Panzu, Jeremie Nkongola
Electric guitars: Andre Matov, Corneille Mangungu, Aspro Lusuama, Sebastian Koch, Mauro Pandolfino
Rap: Lova Mutu wa Ngozi
Horns: Raudel Marzal, Dan Freeman, Jason Liebert
Keys: Alex Trebo, Jeancy Samu Diluvanga
Percussion: Iko Ikonola, Papy Pemba, Tunde Alibaba, Alfred Mehnert

Kindoki / Witchcraft
Lyrics & music: Batila

(From the Lingala and English lyrics)
Everything that I gave was/Not enough for you
The little I kept to myself/Is bringing me problems

ABCD white [wo]man stop causing trouble, watch out!
Watch out!
ABCD white [wo]man stop causing trouble, watch out!

Ancestors, I am calling upon you/Come and stand by me
Give me some of that witchcraft/So I can become a sorcerer, find my children
And we sing

My soul won’t be sold again to non-believers/My soul won’t be sold again to non-believers

You can call it witchcraft-black magic
Call it voodoo, evil spirits, mumbo jumbo, but you should know that

My soul won’t be sold again to non-believers
ABCD muzungu keba tika mobulu

A sparrowhawk passed above here/Sparrowhawk stole my child from home
Sparrowhawk, evil bird/My people, where has my twin child gone?

Lelele, lelele, lelele, lelele
Lelele, lelele, lelele, lelele

You can call it witchcraft-black magic/Call it voodoo, evil spirits
Mumbo jumbo but you should know that/My soul won’t be sold again to non-believers
ABCD muzungu keba tika mobulu


Ba Nzambe Ya Se / Gods on Earth
Lyrics & music: Batila

Parents I dedicate this song to you/To say thank you for everything you have done
As a child I was not always aware/But now as a father I see your battles

You are indeed Gods on earth
Without you I don’t know/Where I would have ended up
You are indeed gods on earth/You have made me become the man I am

Your desires you put aside/Father still a young man wanting to play
Mother could have gone to university/But you put your head together for us

Nzambi ya mpungu (God of our ancestors)/May you add peace and honourS
Strong health to my parents/Mother and father, I thank you today


Naboyi / I Refuse, feat. Lova Lova Mutu wa Ngozi
Lyrics & music: Batila, Wilfred Luzele

Naboyi pays homage to Simon Kimbangu, a charismatic Congolese religious leader who preached Black liberation and attracted a large following during a brief period in 1921. Threatened by his rapid success, Belgian authorities arrested him. Tried by a military court for subversion, Kimbangu received a death sentence, ultimately commuted to life imprisonment; he served 30 years until his death in 1951. Today the Kimbanguist Church is established in many countries.

Mental slavery, nga naboyi
Fighting for my rights na lingi
Kasi minioko ngai naboyi
Superficiality nga naboyi
Foreign spirituality naboyi
Mfumu kimbangu ya nga

Let them talk their heaven talk
Hell is for us all
You either write the book or you get fooled
By their false interpretation


Lyrics & music: Batila

Oh Afreekan don’t walk on clouds/Walk-on solid ground ‘cause there is no messiah
Coming down/Coming down to rescue you

Waitin is no solution
We got to face it, our mind is polluted with self-hate/And faith in illusion
We were given paradise and there is no other/While we are dreaming, they’re dividing and ruling

We fell seven times, let’s stand up eight
We are life, river Nile, we never run dry
We are the Kongo, we run deep so,
Afreekan rise

Our children can’t be forgotten
We denied the wisdom of our uncles/And traded them against the roots of our failures
But we can be forgiven ‘cause we know the game/And its players

We fell seven times, let’s stand up eight
We are life, river Nile, we never run dry/We are the Kongo, we run deep so,
Rise, children of Africa, rise/Telema, mwana afrika telema


Awa / I Am Crying
Lyrics & music: Batila

I am crying, you’re leaving/Not even looking back to me
Your face, a reflection of only bad memories/This silence, causing riots deep inside of me

You said it’s me, whose pride is our love’s worst enemy/You said it’s me who got played by his ego with easy tricks
You said it’s me, oh yes I agree/But in my heart I still love you so much



Leave a Reply

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.