MECHIAN Records was an egyptian record label situated in Cairo. It was active in the 1930s.
Following the example of Ngoma, Opika was the second record label to be set up by Greek businessmen in the Belgian Congo. When the brothers Gabriel and Moussa Benatar established their recording studio in 1950 they already ran a successful company SOLBENA for the manufacture of shirts with shops in Léopoldville and across the Belgian Congo. Later in 1950 the Greek cousins and businessmen Athanase and Basile Papadimitriou began recording for yet another label they named Loningisa.
Opika’s commercial as well as artistic success came in 1951 when Moussa Benatar signed a typist working for SOLBENA who also happened to be an accomplished guitarist.
Opika became a starting point in the career of Joseph Kabasele alias Kallé Jeef or Grand Kallé, who is regarded as a founding father of modern Congolese music and African Jazz as the first modern Congolese rumba orchestra.
In order to expand its marked potential Opika enter into a number of exclusive deals with trading companies for whole sale distribution across Africa. Silvades with branches in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire handled distribution in l’AEF (L’Afrique équatoriale française present day Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, Centrafrique and Tchad), S. A. Madubo in Douala covered Cameroun, John Holt Ltd. the Gold Coast and Nigeria and Maison du Disques (Madame Dubois) in Abidjan and later C.I.C.A. Côte d’Ivoire and Upper Volta. The exclusive distribution deals also included agreements to record local artists from Cameroun and from the French as well as English colonies in West Africa that resulted in several hundred releases with artists other than Congolese.
In 1956 Moussa Benatar signed a group of Latin-American musicians to re-record some of Opika’s most successful releases. This business strategy according to one Congolese observer, however, was a miscalculation to such a degree that it eventually led to the label going bankrupt the following year.
Mzuri was one of the major independent labels on the East African record marked from 1955 to ca. 1976.
It was owned by Assanand & Sons Ltd., a record and electronics store in Mombasa with branches in Nairobi, Kampala and Dar es Salaam. The Mzuri label was above all known for its releases of taarab music.
The catalogue also included traditional music and guitar groups singing in Kiswahili, Kikuyu, Kikamba, Luganda, Manyala, Samiya Bugwe, Jaluo [Dholuo], Kisukuma, Taita and Lugisu. It also featured recordings of some of Tanzania’s leading muziki wa dansi bands of the late 1950s and 1960s, including Salum Abdallah & Cuban Marimba Band, Kiko Kids, Kilwa Jazz, Atomic Jazz, Nuta Jazz, Western Jazz Band and Morogoro Jazz.
Mzuri’s producer M. J. Shah had recorded previously for the EMI label Columbia in 1939 and in the early 1950s.
The Mzuri label’s first releases on 78 rpm shellac discs in the AM series came in 1955 and ended with AM 571 in 1962.
Besides the principal AM and HL series the Mzuri label also had two short lived 78 rpm shellac series. The AN series with four releases, two with the African Island Church and two with soundtracks from the film Mlevi, and the T series with some 50 releases. The T series had label information in French and seems primarily to have been aimed at the Congolese market.
The AM shellac series was initially manufactured in W. Germany and after 1956 on the Opel Gramophone Factory in Kampala. Matrix numbers in the latter part of the AM series indicate they were manufactured by Gallo in South Africa.
East African (Kenyan) label founded in 1947 by Dr. Guy Johnson and his East African Sound Studios Ltd., the first entirely local record company in East Africa. Recordings were made in Nairobi, Kenya, but also in Dar es Salaam and Kampala. Initially, shellacs were pressed by The Decca Record Company Limited in England, but then shipped back to East Africa.
By 1950, the Jambo label had issued 210 records, but experienced financial difficulties. In 1951, the African Ground Cotton Company (Afcot Ltd.) bought the Jambo label and renamed the company East African Records Ltd.. The label, now headed by Otto Larsen, a Dane, continued to repress its earlier recordings until 1955, when Larsen opened up a new recording studio on company property and began to issue new recordings as well.
Notably Isaac Mzobe’s Crocodile Male Voice Choir recorded a number of tracks (XU 12-14) in 1939.
A later recording by the same group (XU 30) is tentatively dated circa 1941.
Recordings by the Amanzimtoti Male Voice Choir (XU 32, 33, 38, 41, 42) similarly are dated circa 1941 and two tracks by the All Nations Male Voice Choir (XU 63) are dated circa 1942.
Veit Erlmann dates a number of the Better (XU) label recordings from this period in his book Nightsong.
Bantu Batho BB Records was a record label from South Africa pressing genuine and mixed African music syles in the 50s.
On the red record label only the initials BB are printed instead of the complete name.
BB is also linked with Trutone records.