Archive for the ‘Ebenezer Calendar’ Category

Ebenezer Calendar

December 7, 2012


Ebenezer Calendar sings “Nobody’s Business But My Own”:

by Ward Rien (OTP roving correspondent):

“If I drink my palm wine..If I smoke my cigarette…”

Straight from Freetown, Sierra Leone, we find the first man to record a calypso in Africa,

We find an old tune written by Bessie Smith’s old piano player in an old style

Derived from old slaves who were mostly brought across the ocean from the old place, the greater West African coast,

Yeah like in and around a place that would someday be called Free Town.  Sierra Leone.

But still, there as here it is nobody’s business if i dodoodoo.

edited from


Ebenezer Calendar was a cultural musician, historian and social commentator who used his popular maringa music to entertain and  educate his fellow countrymen.

He was born in Freetown on November 19, 1912 of a Jamaican father and a Sierra Leonean mother.  By 1930, he had become a qualified carpenter, and he was employed by Pa Alimamy Boungie, an undertaker at Kissy Street. Pa Boungie’s undertaker shop used to conduct wake-keeping ceremonies for bereaved families. Thus Calendar would learn coffin-making during the day, and at night he would be among the men Pa Boungie would send to sing at wake-keeping ceremonies.

About this time, Calendar and two of his friends formed a small musical group. They practiced on open grounds, and on-lookers would sometimes give them money. Later, they began getting invitations to perform at weddings, parties and other festive occasions. All this was just part-time, reserved for evenings, as Calendar continued working for Pa Boungie. Before finally embarking on a full-time musical career, Calendar worked for some time with the Sierra Leone Railway, opened and ran an undertaker shop, and then was employed as cabinet-maker for the United African Company Limited (U.A.C.).

A versatile musician, Calendar learnt to play several different musical instruments, including the mandolin, the cornet, rhythm guitar and the trumpet. Calendar’s group in the 1940s and 1950s relied upon a combination of locally-produced instruments like the bata (hand drum) and the triangle, and Western instruments like the guitar and the tambourine to produce his distinctive maringa rhythm.

Calendar’s early songs formed part of the dance music of the fifties and sixties, and most of his compatriots will remember the swinging  rhythm of the hit song “Fire, Fire.” As he grew older, his music became more philosophical, and he began to consider himself more as a teacher with the responsibility of imparting the lessons he gained from life to a younger generation.

When he died in 1985, music groups from all over Freetown converged on his home at the foot of Mt. Aureol and played his songs continuously for twenty-four hours. Thousands gathered  to remember the man they all loved and admired.


African Elegant (Original Music 1995)