Definitions for "kwela"
A kind of danceable music popular among black South Africans; it includes a whistle among its instruments.
South African pennywhistle (tin flute) music.
From the Xhosa and Zulu word “khwela,” meaning “climb on,” a term used to get performers involved in a show; also widely used by police to get them onto police vehicles. Related to the Zulu/Xhosa word “ikhwelo,” for a shrill whistle. The kwela music which developed during the '40s and '50s almost always featured the pennywhistle, a cheap and reliable (tin flute) instrument which served as the lead voice. Early music by Willard Cele caught the ears of many, and the 1951 movie “The Magic Garden” also played a role. Spokes Mashiyane (And His All Star Flutes) were wildy popular by 1954. The harmonies of the kwela are simple and cyclical in nature, usually C-F-C-G7; the music combines a rapid ostinato foundation with elements of Afro-American jazz swing forms.