Our theme of South African places continues. This mixtape features songs about South African towns and cities performed by foreign musicians. As expected, during the apartheid era there were many songs which linked South African places to apartheid human rights violations. This mixtape begins with those before ending with a series of songs released in the post-1994 era.
In most of the apartheid era songs the name of a specific urban area is used to represent apartheid South Africa more generally, with the exception of Mari Pavone’s “Sharpeville” which is a mournful tribute to people slain by the apartheid police at the Sharpeville massacre. Some of these songs used lyrics to draw attention to apartheid atrocities and supported the struggle against the unjust system including songs by Gil Scott Heron, the Anti-Nowhere League, Love Like Blood, Little Steven, Sonny Okosun, Jeffrey Osborne and Pierre Akendengue. While in “Tears For Johannesburg” by Max Roach, Abey Lincoln’s sorrowful vocals draw attention to the pain caused by apartheid atrocities.
Malcolm McLaren’s “Soweto” and Harry Belafonte’s “Paradise in Gazankulu” do not focus on apartheid injustices but “Soweto” itself was an injustice, with McLaren plundering the music of the Boyoyo Boys for his own gain. Nevertheless, the song drew the attention of many listeners to Soweto and to South African music.
The end of the apartheid era brought with it a new musical attitude towards South Africa, where places can be celebrated for their way of life and sense of space rather than for the injustices they represent (even if injustices do continue). The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger sing about missing a flight to Johannesburg while Clubfeet sing “Let’s fly to Cape Town, baby” as both cities become part of the international leisure globetrotting circuit.
Instrumental pieces by Herman Benjamin, Plaid, Soothsayers, Lawson Rollins, Brink Man Ship and Werken capture post-apartheid South African spaces through music. They can take you on a journey without specifying what that journey entails. Although Werken’s “Port Elizabeth” doesn’t sound like you will necessarily enjoy your stay …
- Johannesburg – Gil Scott Heron
- Johannesburg – Anti-Nowhere Road
- Johannesburg – Love Like Blood
- Johannesburg Blues – Les Baxter
- Tears For Johannesburg – Max Roach
- Sharpeville – Mario Pavone
- Pretoria – Little Steven
- Fire In Soweto – Sonny Okosun
- Soweto – Jeffrey Osborne
- Espoir A Soweto – Pierre Akendengue
- Soweto – Malcolm Mclaren
- Paradise In Gazankulu – Harry Belafonte
- Johannesburg – The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger
- Durban Poison – Herman Benjamin
- Durban Pain – Plaid
- Umtata – Soothsayers
- Cape Town – Clubfeet
- Cape Town Sky – Lawson Rollins
- Gugulethu – Brink Man Ship
- Port Elizabeth – Werken