marabi, noun

Forms:
Also maraba.
Origin:
Southern Sotho, Show more Perhaps from Marabastad, the name of a township (now no longer in existence) on the outskirts of Pretoria; or Southern Sotho marabi plural of lerabi gangster (indicating the disapproval with which the sub-culture was regarded); or related to Southern Sotho raba fly around, perhaps referring to the energetic dance style.
1. In historical contexts. A working-class township culture of the 1930s and 1940s: see quotation 1989. Also attributive.
1933 Umteteli 11 Nov. in D.B. Coplan, Urbanization of African Performing Arts. (1980) 247The ‘marabi’ dances and concerts, and the terrible ‘jazz’ music banged and wailed out of the doors of foul-smelling so called halls are far from representing real African taste.
1989 Reader’s Digest Illust. Hist. of S. Afr. 358The heart of marabi was its music — a throbbing blend of Christian spirituals, Negro rags, Boer vastrap..and traditional rural rhythms and harmonies. But marabi was not only about music. Other vital components were home beer-brewing, weekend shebeen parties and drinking skokiaan and isiqatavika (‘kill me quick’) in order to forget the drabness of life in urban ghettos.
2. In historical contexts. A township drinking and dancing party of the 1920s, 1930s, or 1940s, especially one at which marabi music (see sense 3) was played. Usually attributive.
1946 P. Abrahams Mine Boy (1954) 108They would relax and dance till daybreak at some maraba, egged on by the thumping noise of a broken-down piano.
1987 New Nation 23 July 10It was one of the areas in the city centre where blacks were allowed to live close to the wild shebeen and marabi centre of Doornfontein.
3. Music. A style of popular dance music common in townships in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, consisting of a blend of African, Afrikaans, and ‘coloured’ folk music styles adapted to performance on the organ or piano, with the addition, in later years, of elements of American jazz. Also attributive.
Note:
At that time, often played in shebeens and at parties and dances, at first usually by a keyboardist, later also by guitarists, penny-whistlers, and bands. A forerunner of kwela and its derivatives.
1941 W.M.B. Nhlapo in Bantu World 15 Mar. 9The Jazz Maniacs..were regarded as a ‘marabi’ or ‘Tsaba-Tsaba’ band.
1990 [see penny-whistle].
A working-class township culture of the 1930s and 1940s: see quotation 1989. Also attributive.
A township drinking and dancing party of the 1920s, 1930s, or 1940s, especially one at which marabi music (see 3) was played. Usually attributive.
A style of popular dance music common in townships in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, consisting of a blend of African, Afrikaans, and ‘coloured’ folk music styles adapted to performance on the organ or piano, with the addition, in later years, of elements of American jazz. Also attributive.

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19331990