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Last Updated: Friday, 31 December, 2004, 16:01 GMT
Sweet Mother is Africa's anthem
CD cover of Sweet Mother
Prince Nico Mbarga was a giant of Nigeria's music scene
Sweet Mother by Prince Nico Mbarga has been voted Africa's favourite song by BBC readers and listeners.

Chosen from a shortlist of 10, the 1976 hit celebrating motherhood won with more than 27% of the vote.

The wedding song Vuli Nadlela by the wild child of South African music, Brenda Fassie, who died earlier this year, came in second.

"We weren't surprised by the result. It's a timeless classic," said Joseph Warungu, who organised the poll.

"It's not just about the lyrics. There's something about the singing guitar that gets you," he said.

Mr Warungu, who announced the winning tracks on the BBC's Network Africa programme, said more than 2,500 people voted through the programme and on the BBC News website.

Prince Nico was a giant of the Nigerian music scene - and his music was a fusion of West African Highlife and Congolese styles.

According to the website NigeriaExchange, EMI turned down the demo-tape of Sweet Mother in 1974 because it was too childish.

When it was released two years later it became, and remains, a big hit.

Third place in the BBC poll was taken by Lady, a hit from the 1970s by iconic Nigerian band leader and saxophonist Fela Kuti, followed by Mario from the king of Congolese rumba - Franco - in fourth place.

The love song Malaika, which means Angel in Kiswahili - made popular by Miriam Makeba - came in fifth.

It tells the story of a man lamenting that he cannot marry his love because he is poor.

"Again, it's the guitar in this song that drives you mad," Mr Warungu said.


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