The melody of freedom

A reflection on music

Riot policeman Erasmus shot seventeen-year-old Mngcini 'Big Boy' Mginywa from Grahamstown at a funeral because, he told the judge, the people 'were singing in their language and this causes riots'. Mngcini died in hospital. Fear seems to reign among the defenders of apartheid. Fear of revolutionary songs, fear of South African jazz, fear of mbaqanga, fear of guma, fear of all those kinds of non-biased and authentic South African music expressing the pride and the intransigence so characteristic of black South African musicians. This article deals with that struggle for a black South African musical identity against the poison of apartheid, and against the exploitation of white promoters and record companies,' against the divide-and-rule policy of South African radio. It deals with the pioneers of township jazz, brass bands, marabi, kwela, mbaqanga, the variety show and dilemma South African musicians face of whether or not to make use of a valuable sounds from overseas (such as American bebop), without being swamped by them.

Naturally, it is impossible to give a complete profile of the rich diversity of South African musical styles (and sub-styles) within the scope of this article. We shall therefore briefly sketch a number of them. Those taking an interest in the history of South African music will soon observe that, from the very first moment the European set foot in South African, attacks were made on the authentic, traditional music of the African peoples. Vasco Da Gama may have been delighted when he was received on his arrival in December 1497 by a group of Khoi musicians playing five flutes at a time, but the colonial invaders tried to get a grip on African music, that was then, as it is now, fully integrated in everyday life, playing an important role at wedding ceremonies, funerals, initiation rites and daily work. Even in the early stages of the colonization the oppressors realized that, unless they were able to break the cultural fibre that gave the black people their sense of pride and cultural identity, it would be a difficult process to administer them politically and exploit them economically. Thus it was that, at certain stages in South African history, some folk songs, usually sung at funerals or in war, were either discouraged or banned.



Industrial Melting Pot of Culture

The late 19th century mineral revolution created a black proletarian melting pot of various African ethnic cultures and traditions, soon manifested in a variety of song, dance and instrumentation. During leisure hours miners gave performances, the cultural content of which was a blend of African melodies, and a demonstration of their exposure to a variety of cultural influences, including that tithe Malay slaves and the colonizers themselves.

By 1900, African slums and shanty towns, built particularly around the mining compounds, had become so widespread and African culture so diversified, that a 'epical urban cultural tradition was born, woven around the means of survival in poverty and from police pass raids. The conditions of the emerging proletariat were horrific. The one escape from everyday misery was the shebeen, where illicit alcoholic beverages were sold. The shebeens also played a significant role in the development of urban African musical culture because various urban songs were performed there. They became the working space for the unemployed musicians, who could in this way avoid working for white bosses.

Marabi

As the call for modern, urban music became louder and louder, there emerged a circuit of semi-professional musicians, from virtually every African population group, typically city dwellers, bringing together all kinds of musical style in one urban African style - the marabi - a familiar rhythm, a mixture of African polyphonic principles. It was in the shebeens where marabi was born, Marabi was the cultural interpretation of African music in an urban environment and played with western instruments. And rough it was; soon there came into existence a marabi parties culture, which by far surpassed the shebeen entertainment. The meaning of marabi is not exactly certain, but some of the more common explanations like 'to fly around' do justice to the tough living conditions of the urban Africans in those days. Marabi (played among other instruments on guitars, tambourines, concertina and bones) was a form of protest against exploitation and an escape from everyday misery.

Later on marabi was also played on organ, by, among others the renowned Boet Gashe from Queenstown, nicknamed 'Little Jazz Town'. The great significant of marabi was its multi-ethnic character, diametrically opposed to the oppressor’s ideology of divide-and-rule. Marabi was more than music, much more the expression of a new cultural development among the growing urban proletariat.

The high point of marabi culture came with the emergence of the big and Jazz Maniacs, founded by Solomon 'Zuluboy' Cele in 1935, together with Wilson 'Kingforce' Silgee. In 1944, this 'Father of African Jazz' took over the leadership of the Maniacs after the death of Cele. In an interview in 1982(during the conference on "Culture and Resistance' in Gaborone) Silgee said:

We were the most popular band. I knew marabi beat and Zuluboy was a marabi pianist. So we put that beat into our music. That's why we had bigger following. The roots of the black people; we had them in our rhythm. Marabi used to happen over weekends when the girls were off, the domestic workers were off. It used to take place from Friday until Monday morning. The Jazz Maniacs stood well into the 1950s when mbaqanga became popular and the band could not join in Sophiatown If the marabi was especially loved among black (unskilled) workers, the black middle class developed an interest in American jazz. Partly due to World War II the import of American jazz stagnated (there were jazz movies) and there was Gap in the market which was gratefully filled by South African musicians. Singers Dolly Rathebe from Sophiatown became hugely popular with their 'arrangements (not copies, but versions with their own African arrangements) of successful American jazz tunes. Increasingly jazz became an inalienable part of black South African music, manifesting itself particularly in the ethnic and cultural melting pot of Sophiatown, the legendary, demolished suburb of Johannesburg.

In 1955 jazz lovers formed the Sophiatown Modern Jazz Club, which on Sundays organized a number of jam sessions, led by Pinocchio Mokaleng, in the Odin cinema in which leading musicians like Mackay Davashe, Elijah Nkwanyane, Kippie Moeketsi, Ntemi Piliso (saxophone player in the current African Jazz Pioneers) and many others took part. In Sophiatown for the first time in South African history black and white jazz musicians could meet on such a regular basis on common platform, a unique and typically Sophiatown fact. From these jam sessions emerged a very successful, star-studded band, the Jazz Epistles, featuring among others Kippie Moeketsi (alto), Jonas Gwangwa (trombone), Dollar Brand, now Abdullah Ibrahim (piano), Hugh Masekela (trumpet), Johnny Gertse (guitar) and Makhaya Ntshokr (drums). They laid the basis for a period of modern South African jazz, which was developed further in the 1960s. Jonas Gwangwa and Hugh Masekela were members of the only African high school jazz band ever formed in South Africa - the Huddleston Jazz Band, which was based in St. Peter's secondary School, Rossettenville, later closed by the government.

Under a wide interpretation of the pass system, musicians were classified as vagrants. A black musician could only be semi-professional, for they worked in the daytime and performed after hours. For instance, the father of mbaqanga music. Zakes Nkosi worked for Gallo, not as a musician, but packing records in their storeroom. Spokes Mashiyane, the international penny whistle star, who gained world recognition, similarly worked for Trutone Records until Union Artist released him. The penny whistle became one of the symbols of black South African music. Its origins date back to the pre-colonial period of South African history, when herdsmen made instruments out of reeds. It became popular in the 1950's, thanks to the film Magic Garden, in which Willard played it.

White Greed 80

In the meantime, black musicians, however talented and successful they were, still had to fight with their backs to the wall for an existence with a regular income. The problem was that they could rarely obtain permits to perform as professional musicians throughout South Africa, and therefore they were almost always in the hands of white promoters, who served entirely different interests (namely filling their pockets) than seeing to the interests of the musicians. Black musician were neither permitted to join a white musicians' union, nor to form their own group, giving them no chance to take a stand against the record industry. And that was no luxury, because it was not until the end of the 1950s that copyright and royalty arrangements were introduced, which was only to the greater honour and glory of the record companies. In order to earn a living, the black musicians often had to turn to other odd jobs or hire themselves out as studio background musicians. In 1952, the white promoter, Alfred Herbert, set up the African Jazz and Variety Show in the Windmill Theatre in Johannesburg, for an exclusively white audience. Herbert shamelessly exploited black musicians among them many stars), but a lack of alternatives forced them to appear in his productions. In itself, the regular payment and the guaranteed artistic freedom to develop a programme themselves, in addition to the professional running of the shows, were attractive factors for the artists. What was truly crippling however was Herbert’s tendency to remove from the shows the authenticity of the African stage companies in order to make them 'suitable' for white consumption.

In Makeba My Story (London: Bloomsbury, 1987) Miriam Makeba writes about those days:

It is 1956, and I am twenty-four years old, when African Jazz and Variety begins a tour that will last eighteen months. The troupe travels from city to city, playing to white audiences and, once a week when my people are permitted into the theatre, to black audiences. This is always on Thursday, when the domestic workers night off. ' Trevor Huddleston, Anglican missionary and anti-apartheid activist, formed a positive exception to white greed in the promotion of black music. In 1954 the then Union of South African Artists organized a farewell concert for Huddleston who was on his way back to Britain. With the proceeds of this concert (with 200 Musicians performing!) The Union could make a start with the payment of royalties to black musicians. Between 1957 and 1966, the Union organized the sensational township jazz concerts at Dorkay House for multi-racial audiences, featuring, among others, Letta Mbulu, Dolly Rathebe, Tandie Klaasen, the Jazz Epistles, the Manhattan Brothers and the Jazz Dazzlers.

In Dorkay House there was theatre as well, like the musical play King Kong 1958), a non-racial production - black musicians and actors, a white producer, director, musical leader and scriptwriter - which was a gigantic success throughout South Africa, running in London for a year as well. Among the cast: Miriam Makeba, the Manhattan Brothers, the Jazz Dazzlers Orchestra and ten-year-old (!) Lemmy Mabaso, who attracted wide attention with his kwela songs on the penny whistle. King Kong also met with overseas criticism: the show was said to be amateurish, and less of an outspoken political statement than was expected from the land of apartheid. Not entirely justified, because King Kong was actually a disguised indictment against apartheid and would in South Africa have been attacked by the censor.

Mbaqanga

In addition to jazz, mbaqanga (the name derives from Zulu, meaning something like steamed maize bread') has become a style which has given South African music a direction. It is a blend of various styles, of which American jazz; the marabi and the kwela are the most important. Founded in the 1950s, mbaqanga soon took on a political dimension. Songs such as Azikwelwa ('We won't ride) supported the bus boycott of 1957 in Alexandra, while the removals in Sophiatown (which started at the beginning of February 1955 and took five years to complete) were sharply criticized in Bye, Bye Sophiatown and Asibadali ('We won’t pay rent'), songs which were promptly banned on radio by the SABC, although black disc jockeys tried to get them on the air anyway. Mbaqanga became the pride of the urban blacks in the townships.

Michael Xabu (who gave the name mbaqanga to this type of music), Zakes Nkosi and Elijah Nkwanyane formed the cornerstone of the mbaqanga. Ntemi Piliso and his All-star Band, Gwigi Mrwebi and the Cool Six, the Harlem Swingsters, and others Hire the main contributors in the development of mbaqanga. The vocal groups were the Skylarks, featuring Miriam Makeba, Abigail Kubheka and Mary Rabotapa. Dorothy Masuka composed the all-time hit Nontsokolo and the Manhattan Brothers recorded various songs composed by Mackay Davashe.

Around 1960, the simanje-manje music (in Zulu, meaning 'now-now') emerged, a variation of mbaqanga, rendered, among others, by Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens who were a great (commercial) success in South Africa, and the surrounding countries. In addition to Mahlathini (Simon Nkabinde), musician like guitarist John Phuzhushukele Bengu were renowned mbaqanga interpreters. Groups like Ladysmith Black Mambazo with their internationally well-known ificathamiya a cappella music and the Afro rockgroup Harari owe much of their inspiration to mbaqanga. Many mbaqanga performers seem to take refuge in the interpretation of adapted traditional music and dance patterns and to avoid lance of criticism of the apartheid regime. Some hair-splitters mistaken call mbaqanga the musical equivalent of 'Bantu education'. In Music in the Mix Johannesburg: Ravan, 1981), Muff Anderson points to the political anaemia is like Steve Kekana and the Soul Brothers, but she does speak of a proud, authentic, African music. Philip Tabane, guitarist and founder of the famed Malombo band (which started as the Malombo Jazz Men in 1960 with, among others, drummer Julian Bahula who now has his own band in London) is a clear example of this.

Festivals

Many talented jazz musicians did not succeed in acquiring a recording contract often depended on ad hoc formations and festivals like the Cold Castle jazz Festival and incidental gramophone recordings. We are referring here to jazz celebrities like Gideon Nxumalo, pianist, who gave piano lessons in Dorkay. In 1961 the Jazz Epistles won the festival award and in 1962 by Mackav she's Jazz Dazzlers, featuring Kippie Moeketsi. In 1963 the credit went to the Blue Notes with the 'heavy' cast consisting of Chris McGregor on piano, Dudu Pukwana (alto sax], Mongezi Feza (trumpet), Johnny Dyani (double bass), Louisa Moholo (drums) and Nick Moyake (tenor sax).

Jazz within South Africa's borders went through a difficult period in the 1960s and the 1970s. The resistance against apartheid, under the leadership of the African National Congress, had experienced a heavy setback; the ANC was banned, Mandela and other leaders were detained, hundreds of political cadres were forced underground, leading jazz musicians fled into exile and some jazz celebrities died an early death, like Gideon Nxumalo and Mackay Davashe (early 1970s], Mongezi Feza (1975), Kippie Moeketsi (1983) and Johnny Dyani (1986). Pallo Jordan of the ANC portrayed Dyani in the ANC cultural journal Rixaka as a passionate musician, who 'made his own distinctive contribution to the contemporary cultural climate of a healthy cosmopolitanism, reflective of the recognition of the university of aesthetic values and the need for humanity to share its common cultural heritage'.

A difficult period or not, South African jazz succeeded in maintaining its own authentic position and power. Perhaps the fusion with other musical styles, like the mbaqanga, kwela, American jazz, soul and (sometimes) funk has been its salvation. A telling example of this is Dollar Brand's album Mannenburg of 1974, featuring Basil Coetzee, which received a jubilant reception inside and outside South Africa. David Coplan comments on the lesson to be learned from this project by South African musicians: 'An authentic syncretism in tune with the cultural reality of black experience is potentially the most creative and marketable direction that contemporary black music can make. '

Traditional sounds with mbaqanga influence presented in the jazz fashion of stating a theme- improvised solo - have become popular amongst musicians all over the country. Young saxophone players like Barney Rachabane, Mankunku Ngozi, Duke Makasi, and Mike Makgalemele, guitarist Alan Kwela, the group Sakhile and trumpeters like Dennis Mpale and Johnnie Mekwa, and many, many others, have come to realize that our traditional music can be performed in a concert or night-club setting in any part of the world and be a resounding success.

White Poverty

Apartheid divides South Africans in racially separated population groups, and so it divides musicians. Black musicians are hindered as much as possible in order to prevent them from building their own musical styles and musical careers. Strange as this may be, it is precisely the black community that has produced the most interesting and most powerful music, in spite of considerable opposition; the contributions from whites in the development of South African music remains poor. Naturally this justifies the focus on the development of black musicians and bands (of which Coplan's words above are an expression), although this Black Consciousness approach is rather one-sided and out of step with the mixed tradition of jazz and the rise of mixed bands such as Juluka (later Savuka) led by Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mcunu. In the Weekly Mail percussionist Mabi Thobejane of Sakhile said about Johnny Clegg's work: "We can do this music thing on our own with a pure black African race'. A sad affair if we recall that, for years, both Clegg and Mcunu were barred from Radio Bantu because of the very fact that a white person like Clegg had succeeded in learning Zulu and had acquired Zulu dance and guitar patterns, and has in recent years more and more openly made a stand against apartheid.

There has been very little politically relevant 'white' music that is before ‘Soweto’. At the beginning of the 1960s white youths, particularly students, developed an interest for protest and folk songs from the USA, songs that, no matter how innocent most of them were, the regime regarded as a threat to the apartheid regime. We Shall Overcome (Pete Seeger) and 'BIowin' in the Wind' (Bob Dylan) attracted a lot of attention from the Security Branch who raided d stores in Johannesburg for copies of these records. In Music in the Mix. Anderson quotes from an article in The Star from May 1965: Johannesburg folk singers will be avoiding these songs [at the Wits festival]. But they can hardly ignore the enormous new treasury of American folk songs coming under the heading of "struggle" and "protest". '2The Star signals self-censorship among white folk singers, and, at the same time, it exposes itself as having no idea of the political situation in the black music scene of those days. 'There are no records of similar songs written in South Africa since the Nationalists came to power. But it is more than likely that among the Africans there must be a number which are linked with political changes. '3Under the influence of the 1976 uprisings by black pupils and students in Soweto and other places, and white students organizing solidarity actions, the necessary musical protest did emerge through the alternative circuits, but its range was limited. Thus Simon, a White from Cape Town, remarks about the South African punk music of the close of the 1970s " The music reflected the disillusions of the white youth in relation to white society: It offered no alternatives, nor did it make any attempt to bridge the gap between white youths and the black townships. '

Apartheid is money

The lousy, virtually rightless financial position of black musicians in the 1950s the Sophiatown period) has already been mentioned. Since then the situation has improved only marginally. In addition to performances, musicians have to make a living through recordings and airplay. But here the bands with a strong political 'profile meet a barrier on the part of Gallo and EMI, the latter the biggest record company in South Africa with an annual turnover of approximately 100 million rand, Together, it is estimated they control 90 per cent of the market. Sometimes the bands found a successful alternative circuit through independent labels like Shifty Records, and explicitly political records then found a substantial market through African record stores by word of mouth publicity. The South African recording industry invests very little money in South African artists; cheap productions are the norm. In 1980, for instance, only R2, 000 was spent on a record by the very successful artist Steve Kekana, while annually R100, 000 is earmarked to retain foreign artists and their labels. Furthermore, the companies (WEA and CBS in addition to the two already mentioned) tend to release a great number of albums in small pressings rather than small packages in larger quantities. Black musicians are paid per session (for instance R5 per hour); the credits usually go to the producer and the record company. A star earns approximately R150 a week. A group like Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens will spend an entire week in the studio and record dozens of songs, supported by constantly changing backing vocals and side musicians. The records are then released in small numbers [a few thousand) and distributed to every record store of any importance with ever dunging names on the covers, but in fact always the same band. These records cost the record company next to nothing, but yield big profits.

The apartheid record business takes good care that the artists released by them do not express themselves in political terms. Steve Gordon wrote in the Weekly Mail (611,87): "Airplay being essential for sales and profit, the record companies have learned that apart from the need to clear the statutory Publications Control Board [responsible for censorship of cultural products, eds. ], their product should also be tailored to suit SABC programme formats. ' The white radio stations (The English Service, the Afrikaans Service, Springbok Radio, Radio Five, Radio Good Hope, Radio Highveld) do not broadcast black Through black stations, however (Radio Zulu, Radio Xhosa, Radio South Radio North Sotho, Radio Tswana, Radio Venda-Tsonga), the does make Propaganda for white culture in order to poison the black communities. In addition to mbaqanga there is a lot of disco music to listen to, but not of course music involving politics. A secret programming board, exclusively white, decides what is a permissible on radio. Lyrics involving issues of sex and social or political affairs are shunned like the plague. In Music in the Mix, Masekela concludes bitterly: Look at the Manhattan Brothers, and all those other people from the bundu who came in to record for them. The Manhattan Brothers are paupers today . . . Spokes Mashiyane sold millions and millions of those breakable 78s died of sclerosis . . . . Dorothy Masuka made Trutone; she had a record Nontsokolo that just sold for years and years. She's in Zambia now, penniless. Nancy Jacobs had a hit with Meadowlands when the mass removals were going on. I'm sure she hasn't got any bread. '5Answering why the single was not played on his station, the boss of Radio Five said that 96 per cent of local music was not broadcast by Radio Five.

Apartheid Propaganda

Pretoria seeks to do anything to use South African music to spread the poison apartheid. Record companies are in step (does not every record say for which population group the music is mentioned - 'Zulu jive', 'Xhosa jive'?). But in 1986 the Bureau of Information started a project of its own, which turned out to be miserable failure; Song for Peace. A number of black artists were approached and thousands of rands were promised. Most of them refused, but some did fall into trap. Steve Kekana, Abigail Kubheka and Blondie Makhene defended their participation. Kekana said that this was a serious opportunity for black South n musicians to promote 'racial conciliation', and that he preferred that was invested in 'peace' instead of 'rubber bullets and teargas canisters. When angry residents of Soweto set fire to his house, Kekana said his participation had been a 'mistake'. 'I hope people understand that I would never do anything to sell out any black person' (Weekly Mail, 27.3.87). Among the refusers was ex-Beaters, ex-Harari, now going it alone Sipho Mabuse, who has been criticized quite often for his slick, commercial music. Mabuse also refused to perform during Johannesburg's centenary celebrations.

Through black stations, however (Radio Zulu, Radio Xhosa, Radio South Radio North Sotho, Radio Tswana, Radio Venda-Tsonga), the does make Propaganda for white culture in order to poison the black communities. In addition to mbaqanga there is a lot of disco music to listen to, but not of course music involving politics. A secret programming board, exclusively white, decides what is a permissible on radio. Lyrics involving issues of sex and social or political affairs are shunned like the plague. In Music in the Mix, Masekela concludes bitterly: Look at the Manhattan Brothers, and all those other people from the bundu who came in to record for them. The Manhattan Brothers are paupers today . . . Spokes Mashiyane sold millions and millions of those breakable 78s died of sclerosis . . . . Dorothy Masuka made Trutone; she had a record Nontsokolo that just sold for years and years. She's in Zambia now, penniless. Nancy Jacobs had a hit with Meadowlands when the mass removals were going on. I'm sure she hasn't got any bread. '6Answering why the single was not played on his station, the boss of Radio Five said that 96 per cent of local music was not broadcast by Radio Five.

Apartheid Propaganda

Pretoria seeks to do anything to use South African music to spread the poison apartheid. Record companies are in step (does not every record say for which population group the music is mentioned - 'Zulu jive', 'Xhosa jive'?). But in 1986 the Bureau of Information started a project of its own, which turned out to be miserable failure; Song for Peace. A number of black artists were approached and thousands of rands were promised. Most of them refused, but some did fall into trap. Steve Kekana, Abigail Kubheka and Blondie Makhene defended their participation. Kekana said that this was a serious opportunity for black South n musicians to promote 'racial conciliation', and that he preferred that was invested in 'peace' instead of 'rubber bullets and teargas canisters. When angry residents of Soweto set fire to his house, Kekana said his participation had been a 'mistake'. 'I hope people understand that I would never do anything to sell out any black person' (Weekly Mail, 27.3.87). Among the refusers was ex-Beaters, ex-Harari, now going it alone Sipho Mabuse, who has been criticized quite often for his slick, commercial music. Mabuse also refused to perform during People's Music The CASA conference in December 1987 was not only an inspiring musical get-together and a temporary reunification of musicians from 'inside' and those in exile, but gave direction to the role that progressive musicians have to play in the struggle against apartheid. In the Resolutions of the CASA conference we can see that there has developed a vibrant people's music, rooted in South African realities and steeped in democratic values, in opposition to the racist music associated with the apartheid regime. ' Casa brought many of those militant and courageous musicians into the limelight. For a while Amsterdam 1987 resembled Nancefield 1897, Rustenburg 1910, Queenstown 1935, Sophiatown 1955, Soweto 1960, London, New York and Stockholm of the 1970s; above all, Amsterdam was the South Africa of today. The African Jazz Pioneers, Bettina Schouw, The Children from Soweto, the COSATU choir, the Genuines, Zila, the Thami Mnyele Quartet, Sabenza, Arekopaneng, Abdullah Ibrahim, Ntsikane, the Amandla Cultural Ensemble, an avalanche of sounds against apartheid, and it did not matter whether you were white or black, came from South Africa or had been in exile for years. This was South African music for you, the way it was meant to be, without apartheid having a grip on it any longer.

Basil Coetzee of Sabenza says about people's music: 'Our sound has jazz influences, yes. It also got traditional influences. A traditional township sound can be developed musically. I think there is still a lot of work to be done with township music, and I am not for one minute going to believe what a lot of people say, that it doesn't exist, or it's a lot of crap. . . . I think a lot of musicians are becoming aware of themselves culturally. They have become aware because of the political events, because of the system. This growth of political consciousness gives musicians new freedom, a freedom to play what they want to. '

The Genuines, who established such a surprising fusion of rock and Cape klopse in their guma music, proved Coetzee's statement true, because they sing about Mellow Yellow en die teargas en die purple rain en die pyn and also about Oh ho ho die struggle!



Amandla

Amandla cultural ensemble performs the revolutionary songs and dance of South Africa, employing most of the music types found in the country from choral music ificathamiya, kwela and mbaqanga, to African jazz. All its songs carry a political message. As such it symbolizes an important concept of revolutionary artistic creation. Confronting colonial ideology, it rejects the ethnic particularism of apartheid, and stresses ethnic integration and a post-apartheid future that will be a bouquet of inter-connected ethnic cultural flowers. The dialectic in this revolutionary perspective on cultural change raises consciousness from the row past to a broader future.

According to M. Skota, while never losing sight of the need to entertain, Amandla adopted a strong political position as an integral part of the ANC. For example, it has advocated the total isolation of South Africa.



Film Score

George Fenton and Jonas Gwangwa composed the music score for Richard Attenborough's film, Cry Freedom, the story of South African freedom fighter, Steve Biko. Acclaimed internationally and nominated for awards, including several Oscars, a Grammy, and the Ivor Novello Award, the score combines a unique mix of traditional South African music with Western classical music. The London Symphony Orchestra played gumboot dance rhythms on strings whilst stamping the same rhythms with their feet - a truly fantastic sound. The finale had 90 mixed South African voices with orchestral accompaniment singing Nkosi Sikelel' i-Afrika. Enoch Mankayi Sontonga composed this song, the recording of which hit the British pop chart, in 1897. On 8 February 1912, when the African National Congress was formed, this composition was sung and adopted as the national anthem. Today, it is the national anthem of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and has been adopted by SWAPO of Namibia.

Footnotes

David Coplan, In Township Tonight, New York: Longman, 1985, p. 193.

Muff Anderson, Music in the Mix, Johannesburg: Ravan Press, 1981, p. 112.

Ibid.

Simon (a pseudonym], Muziekkrant Oor, Amsterdam, 18 June 1988.

Anderson, op. ct. , p. 37.

M. Skota, African Communist, 104,1986.

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By Jonas Gwangwa and Fulco van Aurich