Best South African Songs of 2022

At the beginning of each year we reflect on what we think were the best South African songs of the previous year. 2022 was another good year for South African music, with a healthy array of new music released. We are highlighting 24 songs which we think everyone should listen to.

Once again there were several new releases from veteran South African musicians. Ivan Kadey from late ’70s-early ’80s band National Wake, is back with a new band (IKD Band) and album, Edge of Time, from which we feature the title track. The album marks a shift from the more intense reggae-punk influenced music of yonder years towards a more subtle introspection. Robin Auld is another veteran South African singer with early roots in the SA punk-ska scene (with the Lancaster Band) who is still releasing new music. Auld has released solo albums for four decades now, and his latest, The Everlovin’ Wind is excellent. “About A Boy” is an upbeat track that implores you to get up and boogie.

There are several musicians who have more recently become veterans or are veterans-in-the-making (we are not quite sure at what point a musician becomes a veteran). Fuzigish have made a welcome return with a self-titled album, with the track “Believer” reminding us what a good ska-jol band they are. Also back with new releases are: Laurie Levine, the song “Dunes” is the title track of her EP; Nakhane, with the EP, Leading Lines, from which we feature “My Ma Was Good”; and Anna Wolf with the EP, Romance Was Born, from which we have taken “Heaven Breathes”. Zolani Mohala of Freshlyground released the single “Wawandithembisile”, a track featuring Kenza & Sun El Musician. “Snake Oil City” is taken from Dan Patlansky’s Shelter Of Bones album, which has been receiving good reviews far and wide. Lucy Kruger & the Lost Boys were back with the third of their trilogy of albums, release in consecutive years. “Risk” is taken from Teen Tapes (For Performing Your Own Stunts), yet another exceptional album. We have also included a single by Dope St Jude, “You’re Gonna Make It”.

The Kongos, like several of the musicians on this mixtape, are now based overseas (they are in the USA), and “Speak Free” is taken from their album 1929, Part 3. The London-based Soap Girls released the album In My Skin, which opens with the high-energy punkish “Breathe”, the track we have included here. “Malele” is taken from Montparnasse Musique’s self-titled EP, released by Real World Records.

Mongrel Records is an exciting newish South African label who have produced a steady flow of releases over the past few years. 2022 was a continuation of that. Apart from the aforementioned Fuzigish album, there were new releases (featured here) from Evert Snyman & the Aviary, the Pruning In The Dark album from which we have chosen “I Never Listen When You Speak”, and a few singles, including “Dead Flowers” by the Filthy Hippies, and “The Veneer” by A Million Ways To Die, a project of former No Friends of Harry band members, Rob McLennan and Dace de Vetta.

This mixtape also features some notable single releases by artists who are fairly new on the music scene: “Blacksnake Blues” by All Them Witches, “Triomf” by The Great Yawn, and “Polar Operational Environmental Satellite” by We Kill Cowboys.

There are also several songs from artists with first time official releases in 2022: Australian-based Ruby Gill’s debut album, I Forgot To Be Profound Today, is more than well worth listening to. We have included the title track. Vietnam-based Madele’ Vermaak released her debut EP, A Pocket Full Of Stones, from which we have selected “Love Breaks Time”. There were noteworthy single releases from by West Coast Wolves, (“Factory Of Bones”), Lokaly (“Breathing”), and East London band, Can Of Worms (“Pillow”). We look forward to more music from these artists in the next year or so.

Once again, we hope you enjoy most, if not all, these songs, and that you end up exploring details about the various musicians and their music. There are several 2022 albums and Eps we think are worth buying, or streaming, and we hope you do! Also look out for live performances, these artists rely on your support!

  1. Believer – Fuzigish
  2. I Forgot To Be Profound Today – Ruby Gill
  3. Wawandithembisile – Zolani Mohala featuring Kenza & Sun El Musician
  4. My Ma Was Good – Nakhane
  5. Edge Of Time – IKD Band
  6. Dunes – Laurie Levine
  7. Speak Free – Kongos
  8. Factory Of Bones – West Coast Wolves
  9. Breathing – Lokaly
  10. I Never Listen When You Speak – Evert Snyman & the Aviary
  11. All About A Boy – Robin Auld
  12. Malele – Montparnasse Musique
  13. Breathe – The Soap Girls
  14. Blacksnake Blues – All Them Witches
  15. Snake Oil City – Dan Patlansky
  16. Risk – Lucy Kruger & the Lost Boys
  17. Love Breaks Time – Madele’ Vermaak
  18. Triomf – The Great Yawn
  19. Heaven Breathes – Anna Wolf
  20. Polar Operational Environmental Satellite – We Kill Cowboys
  21. Dead Flowers – Filthy Hippies
  22. The Veneer – A Million Ways To Die
  23. Pillow – Can of Worms
  24. You’re Gonna Make It – Dope St Jude

Overseas Covers Of South African Songs

Continuing with our mixtapes of cover songs, this time we focus on songs written by South Africans and recorded by foreign artists. Considering the flow of popular culture from the West to the rest, it always seems quite an achievement for music from the tip of Africa to be heard, let alone covered, by musicians from outside the country. Given the distance a song has to travel (symbolically at least, and for many decades, physically too) it is not surprising that among the most ‘covered’ South African musicians are those who were prominent exiled artists – particularly Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, and Abdullah Ibrahim (formerly Dollar Brand). Johnny Clegg had significant overseas success, on the back of extensive touring, and so he also features prominently (in Juluka, Savuka, and as a solo artist).

We have selected a few songs by these artists although there are many more of their songs which were covered: Miriam Makeba was covered by Nat Adderley (“Quit It”), the Dino Rubino Trio (“Sangoma”), Manu Dibango & Kaissa Doumbe (“Pata Pata”), Somi (“Mbombela”), and Zap Mama (“African Sunset”); Hugh Masekela was covered by Stevie Wonder (“Grazing In The Grass”), Soul Syndicate (“Riot”), and Rozalla (“Don’t Go Lose it Baby”); Abdullah Ibrahim was covered by Nubya Garcia & Jools Holland (“Mannenberg”); and Johnny Clegg’s compositions were covered by Afroblue (Juluka’s “Kilimanjaro”), Jimmy Buffet (Johnny Clegg and Savuka’s “Great Heart”) and the Beautiful Girls (Savuka’s “Dela”). Furthermore, John Kongos was covered by the Happy Mondays (“Tokoloshe Man”) and The Party Boys (“He’s Gonna Step On You Again”); while Steve Kekana was covered by Precious Wilson (“Raising My Family”).

Also included here are Four Jacks & A Jill (the Dave Marks composition “Master Jack” covered by The Paranoid Style), Nancy Jacobs & Her Sisters (the Strike Vilakazi composition “Meadowlands” covered by Duo Ouro Negro), Freshlyground (“Doo Be Doo” covered by KC Concepcion”), Lucky Dube (“I’ve Got You Baby” covered by Carlene Davis), two songs from the Ipi Tombi stage show (the Original Ipi Tombi Cast’s “Ipi-N-Tombia” is covered by the Three Degrees and Margaret Singana’s version of “Mama Tembu’s Wedding” is covered by the Vernons.

Some of the above songs have been covered by several artists but, as has been well-documented, none as often as Solomon Linda’s “Mbube”. Here we include one of the more interesting covers, by Angelique Kidjo. We end off with Stef Bos covering “Onder In My Whiskeyglas” originally recorded by Koos Kombuis, Josh Groban covering “Weeping”, originally recorded by Bright Blue, and the Shadows covering Nico Carstens’ “Zambesi”.

We are planning a second series of covers, so if you want to recommend some for inclusion please leave suggestions!

  1. Tokoloshe Man – Happy Mondays (John Kongos)
  2. He’s Gonna Step On You Again – The Party Boys (Johnny Kongos)
  3. Master Jack – The Paranoid Style (Four Jacks & A Jill)
  4. Meadowlands – Duo Ouro Negro (Nancy Jacobs & Her Sisters)
  5. Grazing In The Grass – Stevie Wonder (Hugh Masekela)
  6. Quit It – Nat Adderley (Miriam Makeba)
  7. Mannenberg – Nubya Garcia & Jools Holland (Dollar Brand)
  8. Sangoma – Dino Rubino Trio (Makeba)
  9. Doo Be Doo – KC Concepcion (Freshlyground)
  10. Kilimanjaro – Afroblue (Juluka)
  11. Great Heart – Jimmy Buffet (Johnny Clegg)
  12. Raising My Family – Precious Wilson (Steve Kekana)
  13. I’ve Got You Baby – Carlene Davis (Lucky Dube)
  14. Riot – Soul Syndicate (Hugh Masekela)
  15. Mbube – Angelique Kidjo (Solomon Linda)
  16. Pata Pata – Manu Dibango & Kaissa Doumbe (Miriam Makeba)
  17. Mbombela – Somi (Miriam Makeba)
  18. African Sunset – Zap Mama (Miriam Makeba)
  19. Dela – The Beautiful Girls (Savuka)
  20. Don’t Go Lose It Baby – Rozalla (Hugh Masekela)
  21. Ipi-N-Tombi – The Three Degrees (Original Ipi Tombi Cast)
  22. Mama Tembu’s Wedding – The Vernons (Margaret Singana)
  23. Onder In My Whiskeyglas – Stef Bos (Koos Kombuis)
  24. Weeping – Josh Groban (Bright Blue)
  25. Zambesi – The Shadows (De Waal & Nico Carstens)

SA Musicians Covering Overseas Songs

In our previous mixtape we featured South African musicians covering South African songs. This time we focus on South African musicians covering foreign songs. Anyone familiar with live performers in South African restaurants and pubs will be all too familiar with the countless musicians plying overseas covers for a trade. Many a South African songwriter shakes their head in desperation at the thought of all the cover artists, trying to mimic the singers of the songs they cover, and taking the performance spaces potentially available to more original musicians. However, covers are not always a bad thing. Several musicians who mostly perform their own compositions also include some covers in their live sets or even record them as singles and on their albums. Most often these are viewed as interpretations – where they change the emphasis of the song or switch the song from one genre to another. At times musicians simply cover a song which they think will be a big hit if they adapt it to what seems popular in the current climate, or among their specific fans.

There are examples here which fit into all those categories. Interpreting songs is a very personal thing, and so rather than explain every song’s inclusion here, and fitting it into a particular category of cover, we have just listed the songs here, for you to listen to, think about, and perhaps explore further. We have included the names of the original performers in parenthesis, so that (in case you are not aware of the original) you can go back and listen, and think about the way it has been covered here. In case this sounds like a Musicology 101 course, we won’t ask you to write an essay. But please do leave comments about anything that grabs your attention. In the meantime … enjoy!

  1. Down On The Corner – Miriam Makeba (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
  2. The Voice Of Rage And Ruin – Kalahari Surfers (Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Bad Moon Rising”)
  3. Build Me Up Buttercup – Mean Mr Mustard (The Foundations)
  4. Paint It Black – No Friends of Harry (The Rolling Stones)
  5. Into The Fire – Suck (Deep Purple)
  6. Fooled Around And Fell In Love – Julian Laxton Band (Elvin Bishop)
  7. Substitute – Clout (The Righteous Brothers)
  8. Why Did You Do It – Margaret Singana (Stretch)
  9. Living For The City – Disco Rock Machine (Stevie Wonder)
  10. Magic Carpet Ride – Buffalo (Steppenwolf)
  11. Take Me To The River – Mara Louw (Al Green)
  12. The Weight – Dan Patlansky (The Band)
  13. Fine Lines – Syd Kitchen (John Martyn)
  14. Somebody – Matthew van der Want (Depeche Mode)
  15. Walking In The Rain – Johannes Kerkorrel (Flash and the Pan)
  16. Wait – Chris Letcher (Lou Reed)
  17. Complicated Game – Peach (XTC)
  18. Beds Are Burning – TCIYF (Midnight Oil)
  19. When I Went Out One Morning – Tribe After Tribe (Bob Dylan)
  20. Ring Of Fire – Laurie Levine (Johnny Cash)
  21. Sugarman – Just Jinger (Rodriguez)
  22. Money Money Money – Karen Zoid (Abba)
  23. Sunday Morning Coming Down – Wonderboom (Kris Kristofferson)
  24. Control – Spoek Mathambo (Joy Division – “She’s Lost Control”)
  25. Heart Shaped Box – Goldfish & Julia Church (Nirvana)

South African Musicians Covering South African Songs

Covers are an integral part of popular music. Some bands make a living out of playing covers, some musicians even make a career imitating another musician or band, covering their repertoire or a specific period of their music. This can take place the form of reduplication covers, in which live performances are approximated as closely as possible. Most commonly, musicians simply cover one or more songs by other performers during their career.

We have decided to celebrate cover versions of songs which are in some way related to South Africa. In this – the first mixtape – we are focusing on South African songs covered by South African musicians. The second will focus on foreign songs covered by South African musicians, and the third will feature South African songs covered by foreign musicians.

There are many motivations for covering another’s song, one of which is simply to choose a song which can make money, but often it has to do with paying homage to the original song or performer, and many of the songs included here fit that description. These songs tend to show a great deal of respect to the original version, in terms of tempo, melody and lyrics. Here one can include songs like Arno Carstens’ cover of Ballyhoo’s “Man On The Moon”, Johannes Kerkorrel’s cover of Bernoldus Niemand’s “Snor City”, Zim  Ngqawana’s cover of Abdullah Ibrahim’s “Chisa”, Miriam Makeba’s version of Hugh Masekela’s “Soweto Blues”, QKumba Zoo’s cover of Bright Blue’s “Weeping”, Sharon Katz & the Peace Train and Dorothy Masuka’s version of “Meadowlands”, made famous by Nancy Jacobs and her Sisters, African Jazz Pioneers & Thembi Mtshali’s cover of Miriam Makeba’s “Pata Pata”, David Kramer’s version of Roger Lucey’s “Dry Wine” , Urban Creep’s interpretation of the Cherry Faced Lurchers’ “Shot Down”, Vusi Mahlasela’s cover of James Phillips’ “Africa Is Dying”, Jennifer Ferguson’s version of David Marks’ “Master Jack” (made famous in South Africa by Four Jacks And A Jill), Tony Cox’s cover of Edi Niederlander’s “Ancient Dust Of Africa”, Sonja Herholdt’s cover of David Kramer’s “Skipskop”, Matthew Van Der Want and Chris Letcher’s cover of the Springbok Nude Girls’ “Blue Eyes”, Laurika Rauch’s version of Koos Kombuis’ “Liza Se Klevier” and Tonia Selley’s interpretation of another Koos Kombuis song, this time “Onder In My Whiskeyglas”.

Several artist included here have paid homage to Johnny Clegg’s music (whether with Juluka or as a solo artist). None of the covers included here have tried to imitate the crossover (Zulu-Western folk-rock) style of Johnny Clegg’s music and so while these songs remain true to the sentiment of the originals, they take them in to a different stylistic terrain. These include the acapella version of “Impi” by Not The Midnight Mass, and the rockier versions of “Great Heart” by Hog Hoggidy Hog, “Africa” by Wonderboom and “December African Rain” by the Springbok Nude Girls.

Two songs on this mixtape are an interesting form of cover song in which the cover versions include musicians who were part of the original version. David Kramer joins Jack Parow in his cover of Kramer’s “Biscuit And Biltong” while several members of the Gereformeerde Blues Band join with Arno Carstens and others to cover “Liefde”, originally recorded by the Gereformeerde Blues Band.

There are also socially interesting covers included here. Bernoldus Niemand turns the Radio Rats’ fairly international-sounding “Welcome To My Car” into a truly South African song, especially through his use of South African accent in his vocals. By joining together to cover the Freedom Children’s “Tribal Fence”,  Margaret Singana and Rabbitt go some way towards crossing the tribal fence they sing about. Finally, by sampling Hotline’s “Jabulani”, Prophets Of Da City, a Western Cape coloured hip hop band playfully pay homage to a commercially successful  white western/black neotraditional crossover song. To what extent their sampling of “Jabulani” becomes a cover (or not) is something to ponder.

We have thoroughly enjoyed compiling this selection of covers in which South African musicians have celebrated great South African songwriting and performance. So many emotions and moods are captured through these interpretations. We hope it drives you to go in search of some of the originals you haven’t heard, or even to re-listen to the originals as a matter of comparison. Also let us know if we have left out any of your favourite SA covers of SA songs: there’s bound to be a part two to this particular theme.

  1. Man On The Moon – Arno Carstens
  2. Liefde – Die Lemme
  3. Welcome To My Car – Bernoldus Niemand
  4. Snor City – Johannes Kerkorrel
  5. Chisa – Zim  Ngqawana
  6. Soweto Blues – Miriam Makeba
  7. Weeping – Qkumba Zoo
  8. Meadowlands – Sharon Katz & The Peace Train And Dorothy Masuka
  9. Pata Pata – African Jazz Pioneers & Thembi Mtshali
  10. Impi – Not The Midnight Mass
  11. Jabulani – Prophets Of Da City
  12. Great Heart – Hog Hoggidy Hog
  13. Africa – Wonderboom
  14. December African Rain – Springbok Nude Girls
  15. Tribal Fence – Rabbitt & Margaret Singana
  16. Dry Wine – David Kramer
  17. Shot Down – Urban Creep
  18. Africa Is Dying – Vusi Mahlasela
  19. Master Jack – Jennifer Ferguson
  20. Ancient Dust Of Africa – Tony Cox
  21. Skipskop – Sonja Herholdt
  22. Biscuits & Biltong – Jack Parow
  23. Lisa Se Klavier – Laurika Rauch
  24. Onder In My Whiskeyglas – Tonia Selley
  25. Blue Eyes – Van Der Want/Letcher

Conscription Deja Vu

“I am not going to be Putin’s cannon fodder, and neither should any Russian,“ said Zach the Russian, “I have never felt so free,“ he said as he burnt his military registration card. “There is no way back now,“ he added.

Zach is a well-known YouTuber, who started his channel talking about his daily life in Russia and travels abroad  18 months ago. Initially he covered the typical trivial YouTube fare, like showing his viewers around Russian supermarkets or Soviet-era housing projects and a visit to his grandmother’s dacha, but he has now pivoted to talking exclusively about the war in Ukraine as an exile in neighbouring Georgia.

Niki Proshin, another YouTuber started his channel about two and a half years ago and, like Zack, focussed on travel, local curiosities and – inevitably – his grandmother’s dacha – also now focuses exclusively on the war. He hasn’t left Russia yet (Update: he has now left), and thus manages to document anti-war protests, the effects of sanctions on living costs and the propaganda in the local media. Meanwhile the 1420 Channel conducts a lot of vox pops among other young Russians on the street about the war and conscription, with provocative questions like “Are you ready to die in Ukraine?”. The answers don’t always assume it is rhetorical.

Had our generation of white South African boys who opposed the country’s military in the 1980s had access –  in those pre-Internet days – to a global audience like YouTube, we imagine we’d have been producing very similar content. One cannot fail to have a strong sense of déjà vu listening to the concerns and issues Russian boys are having to face up to now that President Putin has announced a general mobilisation.

They discuss whether to stay or leave the country, whether to get involved in anti-conscription protests, they rage against their government’s policies. Some hope that their call-ups will be deferred because they’re at university. There is discussion about self-harm, and in one case that went viral, a young conscript had a friend break his leg so he couldn’t be called up.

Substitute Putin and co for PW Botha, Magnus Malan, etc, and to middle-aged South African ears, this is all very familiar. The experience was the source of a great deal of music both protesting an unjust war and chronicling the ordeals and testimonies of conscripts and conscientious objectors alike.

On the other hand, had our generation had access to The Internet and YouTube, perhaps we would not have had as much time to compose or consume so much great music. Music was, after all, one of the key cultural communication tools we had. We hope this selection inspires the boys in Russia resisting conscription into an unjust war by Vladimir Putin’s regime.

During the mid-late apartheid era white South African males were conscripted into the South African Defence Force to supposedly protect South Africa’s ‘border’ from anti-apartheid and other liberation forces fighting for the liberation of Angola, Namibia and South Africa. Throughout the 1980s the period of conscription was two years, followed by two years of call-ups to annual reservist-type camps. Many popular musicians wrote and performed songs against the war, conscription, and the unthinking militarised masculinity promoted by the SADF. This mixtape features a variety of those songs, and stands testament to the resistance to the SADF during that period.

There were some songs which questioned the purpose of the war. In the late ’70s National Wake (in “International News”) viewed the geographical border with Angola not as a place where the enemy was courageously fought, but where the troops and choppers were sent to commit atrocities which the population never heard about. Using suffocating imagery, they sang about how ‘they put a blanket over the border, they put a blanket into Angola … they put a blanket over the blanket, and then a blanket over that blanket’. Bright Blue (in “Who Is The Enemy”) meanwhile undermined patriotic notions of the border by describing it as a place in which to run around in the bush, playing silly games. They also questioned who the enemy was. The Asylum Kids asked a similar question in the song ‘Bloody Hands’, referring to war as a game that was played, but did it have to be played?  And In Simple English (In “Don’t Believe”) urged, ‘Please don’t tell me, we must fight to the end. There’s nothing left that I want to defend.’

These songs effectively questioned the purpose of the border war and the actions of the SADF in supposedly defending Christian values. Sometimes musicians sang songs from the perspective of soldiers. For example, Robin Auld “In “After The Fire”) dealt with the post-traumatic stress experienced by a soldier returning from the war, ‘whose life went up in smoke’. Roger Lucey (in “The Boys Are In Town”) sang of the boys returning from the border going out for a round for the fighters who died. Harold gets beaten because ‘he wondered aloud was it all worth it?’ And in “Caprivi Strip”, Via Afrika, use a play on words to suggest that SADF soldiers occupying Namibia involve themselves in sexual encounters with local women, probably forcibly: ‘Cross the border of anywhere, Touch my machine gun, If you dare, Do it Caprivi strip, Your camouflage, It slowly peels, Where you wound me, It doesn’t heal, Slowly girls, Bit by bit, Let’s do it Caprivi strip.’

Musicians also commented on the drudgery of daily life in the army, and in the process undermined border duty as a waste of time, of lives, and of intelligence. Supporters of wars are forever waxing lyrical about the honour and the glory, yet the reality is always more bleak. In contrast Illegal Gathering in their song “Willie Smit” sardonically suggested that all people did in the army was smoke up a smoker’s cough and ‘balles bak’ (sit around suntanning). Rather than turn to pray for support, Bernoldus Niemand (in “Hou My Vas Korporaal” – “Hold Me Tight Corporal”) ironically asked the corporal to hold him tight, to help him through his army experience while sitting around, playing war games with his best days, out of duty, not by choice. The Aeroplanes (in “National Madness”) described the civil war as a national madness tantamount to national suicide, ‘killing the brothers things left unsaid’.

Meanwhile, women were supposed to write letters of support, send parcels and wait faithfully for their men to return. The support and love of these loved ones was supposed to be sufficient to justify the danger risked by the military man.  Roger Lucey (in “The Boys Are In Town”) was one of the musicians who questioned this: ‘They say “think of your family, think of your friends,” But he knows that sentiment  won’t make it end.” Jennifer Ferguson in turn satirised the women-at-home-writing-letters-and-singing-a-song-of-longing in “Letters To Dickie”. The song (comprising snippets of letters) was for Dickie, ‘fighting for your country and me’. She promised to wait faithfully for him, she sent him a scarf knitted in khaki to match his uniform, but ultimately couldn’t resist the approaches of other men and fell pregnant. In response Dickie killed himself. Another story of an army suicide is related by David Kramer in “On The Border” – of a soldier who shot dead five other soldiers and then himself.

One of the gender themes which comes across in anti-war songs is a contrast between mindlessly obeying military orders and creative freedom of expression. Amongst South African musicians opposed to the South African border war there was antagonism towards the dehumanising and conformist path which entering the SADF involved. Militarised masculinity was a threat to thinking, caring, and independent South African men who did not believe that joining the military was necessary to be a strong and brave individual, standing up for his beliefs. On the contrary, it was felt that the military broke down these attributes, threatening creativity, compassion and intelligence. This is clearly expressed in the Cherry Faced Lurchers’ “Warsong”: ‘The old men in the top storeys, Organise another war, All this blood and guts and glory, Is this what life is for? How can they make me feel like somebody else when I’m already myself? How can they make me act like somebody else when I can act for myself?’

The Gereformeerde Blues Band (In “Energie”) also comment on the conformity of white masculinity, including in the SADF – ‘You must stand in your line, you must cut your hair short’. Likewise, the Kalahari Surfers provide a parody of conformity and blind obedience expected of soldiers in the South African Defence Force. In ‘Don’t Dance’ the singer calls on South Africans not to dance to the SADF’s tune:

Hey white boy get your feet off the floor
The Lord gave you legs to march to war
Your leaders want you in a sporting affair
So put on your boots and cut your hair
Don’t talk back or stop to think
Don’t dance

In the face of government indoctrination and military conscription ‘white boys’ were urged to get off their feet and move to a different beat. Musically this song is interesting. The catchy rhythm and beat makes people want to dance, but the audience is told not to dance. Similarly, the overwhelming message of the Nationalist government and the SADF was to serve in the defence force, to ‘dance’; yet the song urged conscripts not to go, not to dance. In “Window On The World” Bright Blue considered the confusion and resentment of conscripts who found themselves ‘marching everywhere, trying their best to escape … marching everywhere, not sure how to cope’.  Marching troops were thus portrayed in disarray, marching against their will. The song undermines the jingoism of the call to defend the country against the total onslaught. eVoid’s “Sgt. Major” evokes a similar sense of conscripts having to march left, right, according to the orders barked at them. The theme of resistance to conformist marching militarism is taken up by the Kalahari Surfers in “Song For Magnus,” a cover of “These Boots Are Made For Walking”, warning the Minster of Defence that one day those very boots would walk all over him.

In another evocation of gender binary thinking, conscientious objectors were ridiculed by the state as feminine and cowards, but Bright Blue retaliated by writing “The Rising Tide” about the brave decision made by David Bruce, who was sentenced to six years in prison for refusing to serve in the SADF. The song held Bruce up as a hero, someone to be admired, a role model. The song flew in the face of government propaganda about what form of masculinity constituted bravery:

But you know where you stand, you have raised your hand
You’re the first, you’re the first of a new generation…
And always, always remember your words have been heard,
We’re on your side…
Walking side by side
We’re the rising tide

However, while Bright Blue had praised Bruce’s stand against conscription, Tony Cox (in “Easy See”) simply sang of the urge to avoid fighting on the border by escaping: ‘You go away … you go away, Try to escape, Far from the frontlines, Go away … Don’t stay,

Just go away.” Yet Roger Lucey (in ‘The Boys Are In Town’) described the unsatisfying choice made by a homesick white exile who resented having had ‘to choose between leaving and losing your name’.

Listening to the songs on this mixtape reminds us of the confusion and turmoil of those days, of being forced to fight in an unwanted war, to go to prison, or leave the country. There are obvious parallels with other situations around the word since then and still ongoing. Fortunately there will always be resistant musicians, who capture such conflict through their songs.

  1. Window On The World – Bright Blue
  2. Warsong – James Phillips And The Lurchers
  3. Energie – Gereformeerde Blues Band
  4. International News – National Wake
  5. Don’t Dance – Kalahari Surfers
  6. Bloody Hands – Asylum Kids
  7. Sgt Major – eVoid
  8. Song For Magnus – Kalahari Surfers
  9. After The Fire – Robin Auld
  10. Don’t Believe – In Simple English
  11. Caprivi Strip – Via Afrika
  12. Who Is The Enemy – Bright Blue
  13. The Boys Are In Town – Roger Lucey
  14. Easy See – Tony Cox
  15. National Madness – The Aeroplanes
  16. The Rising Tide – Bright Blue
  17. Willie Smit – Illegal Gathering
  18. Hou My Vas Korporaal – Bernoldus Niemand
  19. Letters To Dickie – Jennifer Ferguson
  20. On The Border – David Kramer

South African Women Singers Volume 2


In our previous mixtape we featured twenty South African women singers and we acknowledged that there were too many noteworthy women singers to restrict to one mixtape, so we promised a second one. The intention was to feature another twenty women singers but that task proved too challenging, and so we have ended up with 22 songs this time around. And yet there are many more South African women singers who undoubtedly should have been included. But we are pleased that we have been able to showcase such an amazing variety of singers and hope that you enjoy listening to the selected songs.

Once again we have featured singers all the way from the 1950s and ’60s through to people who have appeared on the scene fairly recently. The earliest recordings included here are Dolly Rathebe’s “Unomeva (Isileyi Sam)”, Dorothy Masuka’s “Zoo Lake”, Sharon Tandy’s “Hold On” and Tandi Klaasen’s “Love Is What I Need Today”.

From the 1980s we include Joy’s “Paradise Road”, Mara Louw’s cover of “Take Me To The River”, Sue Charlton – of the Insisters – singing “Bluebeat”, Cindy Alter – of Zia – singing “Nobody Loves You (Like I do)”, Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s “Thank You Mr DJ” and Rebecca Malope’s “Cheated”.

Songs from the 1990s include Wendy Oldfield’s “Acid Rain”, Skye Stevensen – of The Led – singing “The Boy From Apricot Dreams”, Michelle Breeze – of Fetish – singing “Blue Blanket” and Vicky Sampson’s “Afrikan Dream” .

Into the 21st century we have “Ntjilo Ntjilo” by Gloria Bosman, “Zabalaza” by Thadiswa Mazwai and “Gimme The Music” by Unathi, all from the noughties, and more recent releases include “Isesheli” by Mandisa Dlanga (perhaps best known as a backing vocalist in Johnny Clegg’s band), “Marikana” by Lalitha, “Half Of A Woman” by Lucy Kruger & the Lost Boys, “Stay” by Adelle Nqeto, and the most recent release, “I Forgot To Be Profound Today” by Ruby Gill.

Once again, there is a wide range of voices and styles to enjoy, so dip into these songs and hopefully you will find several avenues to explore. Also, drop us a line with your recommendations for a third mixtape down the line.

  1. Ntjilo Ntjilo – Gloria Bosman
  2. Unomeva (Isileyi Sam) – Dolly Rathebe
  3. Zoo Lake – Dorothy Masuka
  4. Love Is What I Need Today – Tandi Klaasen
  5. Hold On – Sharon Tandy
  6. Take Me To The River – Mara Louw
  7. Bluebeat – Insisters
  8. Gimme The Music – Unathi
  9. Isesheli – Mandisa Mlanga
  10. Afrikan Dream – Vicky Sampson
  11. Paradise Road – Joy
  12. Marikana – Lalitha
  13. Zabalaza – Thadiswa Mazwai
  14. Half Of A Woman – Lucy Kruger & The Lost Boys
  15. I Forgot To Be Profound Today – Ruby Gill
  16. Stay – Adelle Nqeto
  17. The Boy From Apricot Spells – The Led
  18. Blue Blanket – Fetish
  19. Acid Rain – Wendy Oldfield
  20. Nobody Loves You – Zia
  21. Thank You Mr Dj – Yvonne Chaka Chaka
  22. Cheated – Rebecca Malope

South African Women Singers Volume 1

In the last mixtape we commemorated Women’s Day by selecting a variety of songs which focused on women and issues affecting women in South Africa. While working on that selection we thought it would be fitting to compile a further mixtape which features some of the women’s voices which have formed part of the South African soundscape since the 1950s. Our initial aim was to select songs by twenty women singers but we soon realised that our task would be easier if we extended our latitude and made way for two mixtapes, rather than one. So this mixtape features the first 20 South African women singers in this two-tape series.

Songs chosen do not follow any particular theme, rather we chose singers and then selected songs by those singers which we think showcase their voices. We include some early veterans of the South African popular music scene (Miriam Makeba, Nancy Jacobs, and Letta Mbulu) and some who appeared on the music scene in the 1970s and 1980s (Margaret Singana, Sathima Bea Benjamin, Edi Niederlander, Laurika Rauch, Rene Veldsman – of Via Afrika, Lesley Rae Dowling, Brenda Fassie, Tara Robb – of The Spectres, Jennifer Ferguson, Heather Mac – of Ella Mental and Busi Mhlongo).

We also feature several more recent singers, who released their first recordings in the 21st Century: Simphiwe Dana, Karen Zoid, Zolani Mahola – of Freshlyground, Shannon Hope, Tailor (Anna Wolf) and Julia Church.

Enjoy your weekend listening and take time to find out more about those singers on this mixtape who you have not previously heard or heard of. There are some interesting stories to be discovered …

  1. Babhemu – Busi Mhlongo
  2. Isiphiwo Sam – Margaret Singana
  3. Mahlalela – Letta Mbulu
  4. Ndiredi – Simphiwe Dana
  5. Windsong – Sathima Bea Benjamin
  6. Meadowlands – Nancy Jacobs & Her Sisters
  7. Pata Pata– Miriam Makeba
  8. Weekend Special – Brenda & the Big Dudes
  9. Hey Boy – Via Afrika
  10. (See Yourself) Clowns – Ella Mental
  11. Teddy Bear – The Spectres
  12. Aeroplane Jane – Karen Zoid
  13. I’d like – Freshlyground
  14. Shiloh – Julia Church
  15. Ancient Dust – Edi Niederlander
  16. Suburban Hum – Jennifer Ferguson
  17. The Spaniard – Lesley Rae Dowling
  18. Kinders Van Die Wind – Laurika Rauch
  19. Daylight – Shannon Hope
  20. Where The Boys Are – Tailor

Women’s Day 2022

This mixtape commemorates Women’s Day in South Africa. On the 9 th of August South Africans acknowledge the contribution made by women towards improving South African society. In particular, on the 9th of August 1956 over 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, to protest an extension of the apartheid government’s pass laws.

Accordingly, black women would also have to carry passes when travelling to ‘white’ urban areas. The march was led by Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophia Williams The women left 14 000 copies of a petition at the doors of prime minister, J. G. Strijdom. They stood for 30 minutes before singing a protest song composed especially for that occasion: “Wathint’ Abafazi Wathint’ Imbokodo” (You strike the women, you strike the rock).

Significantly, the protest saw feminists coming together to make a stand against institutionalized racism. Over the following decades South African feminists continued to define feminist struggle broadly, tackling racism, class inequality and sexism in an intersectional way.

This mixtape begins with Nothembi Mkhwebane’s interpretation of “Wathint’ Abafazi Wathint’ Imbokodo” before moving into a series of songs which celebrate South African women and women more generally: “Women of the World” by the Mahotella Queens, Yvonne Chaka Chaka’s “Legends”, Laurie Levine and Josie Field’s “Trailblazing”, Edi Niederlander’s “Strong Women in Africa” and “African Women” by Pamela Nkutha.

Dope St Jude (“Inside”) and Godessa (“Social Ills”) tackle beauty standards to which girls and women of colour are expected to conform. There follows a series of songs which explore issues about women’s day to day lives. In “Bay of Bombay” Jennifer Ferguson sings of the sacrifices mothers often make: “her eyes would look at the food she cooked, and the clothes she’d clean and iron” all the time her thoughts escaping to “the ships floating on some bay.”

Khaki Monitor describe a young woman “Trying to Make Sense” and in “Mama Shabalala” Juluka describe the struggle of an old refugee woman “looking for a simple home … living from hand to mouth, dodging the wrong arm of the law.”

In “Mother Agriqua” Vusi Mahlasela tells the story of Saartjie Baartman, taken to Europe as a spectacle to be gazed at: an example of the African “other”, both alive and dead (as a museum exhibit). Finally her remains were returned to South Africa and buried. “Wenu se Goli” by Madosini Manquina documents the difficulty of life for rural black South Africans, when men had to leave home to go to work on the mines. The song is an open letter to a migrant mine worker informing him that because he has been away so long his wife’s love is over and she has been unfaithful. Miriam Makeba’s “Welela” is also about the effect of migrant work, but this time the song is about children calling for their mother to return because they long to see her.

Sexual violence is a theme addressed in depth in several songs included here. South Africa’s biggest shame is the widespread sexual violence by men towards women. In “Icala” Busi Mhlongo warns, ‘Don’t ever raise your hand at your woman”. Freshlyground wrote “Gone Gone Gone” (song for Khwezi) as a dedication to Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo, who accused Jacob Zuma of raping her. Her treatment during the trial that followed was appalling, as she was victimized by Zuma’s supporters. In the end Zuma was controversially acquitted of the rape charges. “41 000 Sisters” by Kaalvoet Prinses (Tremaine Barnes) is a song of solidarity with women who have been subjected to sexual violence (41 000 is the average number of reported rapes in South Africa between 2015 and 2019) and is representative of the Barefoot Campaign, a stand against the rape and sexual abuse of women.

Karen Zoid in turn calls for “Justice! Justice!” She angrily demands “Lock away the rapists and throw away the key.” In “Signs” the Pressure Cookies remind us how, when reporting sexual abuse, women are often made to feel guilty about the venues they frequented, the way they were dressed, who they got a lift with, and in fact, they stand accused of failing to “stay behind closed doors”.

The mixtape ends with two songs by male singers providing a critique of sexism. Matthew Van Der Want’s “Lonesome Hero” is a satirical song from the point of view of a woman who wants her lover to experience freedom, but it becomes clear that the experience of freedom which she offers her lover is at her own expense. The song thus questions freedom in a relationship and how in a heterosexual relationship women often sacrifice their own freedom in favour of that of their partners. “Show Luv” by Skwatta Kamp is a hard-hitting attack on men who abuse women, making it clear that such behaviour is never acceptable.

  1. Wathint’ Abafazi Wathint’ Imbokodo – Nothembi Mkhwebane
  2. Women of the World – Mahotella Queens
  3. Legends – Yvonne Chaka Chaka
  4. Trailblazing – Laurie Levine & Josie Field
  5. Strong Women in Afrika – Edi Niederlander
  6. African Women – Pamela Nkutha
  7. Inside – Dope St Jude
  8. Social Ills – Godessa
  9. Bay of Bombay – Jennifer Ferguson
  10. Trying to Make Sense – Khaki Monitor
  11. Mama Shabalala – Juluka
  12. Mother Agriqua – Vusi Mahlasela
  13. Wenu se Goli – Madosini Manquina
  14. Welela – Miriam Makeba
  15. Icala – Busi Mhlongo
  16. Gone Gone Gone – Freshlyground
  17. 41 000 Sisters – Kaalvoet Prinses
  18. Justice ! Justice ! – Karen Zoid
  19. Signs – Pressure Cookies
  20. Lonesome Hero – Matthew VD Want
  21. Show Luv – Skwatta Kamp

Boy From The Suburbs

“What the @$%! was that1” asks Leon Lazarus as he invites you to listen to his personal mixtape of the sounds around him growing up in the suburbs of Johannesburg in the 70s and 80s, before setting out into the world, but his ears still tuned to the Southern Hemisphere. From Springbok Radio Pop to Punk to New Wave to Rock and Folk in the 70s, 80s, an 90s, this was the soundtrack to his upbringing in South Africa.

Clout – Substitute
This is where I begin. I was only four when the song dropped into the charts and yet I remember singing along to it with my siblings. It was a brilliant piece of pop music making and deserved its place in the international charts. I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Cindy Alter a few years back, and I was completely start-struck.

Jessica Jones – Sunday, Monday, Tuesday
This is another piece of pop genius and an enduring earworm that I could sing along to fifty years after hearing it for the first time. I was only six when it came out, but my sisters had the single playing on repeat, so it is now fused with my DNA.

Maria – Clap Your Hands, Stamp Your Feet
You know that every seven-year-old would be clapping and stamping along to this South African pop classic. Back in 1973, this song was everywhere and remained on heavy rotation at least until I sprouted hairs in parts unknown.

Glenys Lynne – Ramaja
This was the first Afrikaans language song that didn’t drive me round the bend. In primary school, Afrikaans was already a problematic language for me. It brought with it all sorts of complications. As a Jewish kid in a government school, I was forced to sit through sermons delivered by domienees, sing the national anthem (which I refused after a time), and attend veld-school where a neo-Nazi took pleasure in beating the spit out of us. When I found myself enjoying this song, I was as surprised as the next person. I am sure I wouldn’t have admitted that in 1976.

Ipi nTombi – Mama Thembu’s Wedding
This was the very first live stage show I was taken to, back in 1976. It was the year in which my primary school was sent home for fear of the unrest spilling over from nearby Alexandra Township. I clearly recall walking through the grounds of the Civic Theater in Johannesburg and climbing the steps to the enormous lobby. I remember the excitement of finding our seats, and the curtain going up. Most of all, I remember Margaret Singana’s spectacular performance. Despite it being a controversial musical about the plight of black women and their migrant men written by two white women, the music continues to hold a special place in my heart.

Paradise Road – Joy
A black all girl group singing a beautiful, touching, and immensely enjoyable song was an important step along my path to shrugging off the decades of bullshit we had been fed by the Apartheid government. At a time when the country was tearing itself apart, this brave song had us singing along. Looking back, the chorus was wonderfully subversive: “There are better days before us and a burning bridge behind, fire smoking, the sky is blazing. There’s a woman waiting, weeping and a young man nearly beaten, all for love. Paradise was almost closing down.”

Rabbitt – Charlie
My sister-in-law was one of the hundreds of screaming fans that camped outside the Duncan Faure’s house back in the 70’s. She and I got on like a house on fire, and her infatuation with the band was catching. I like the band enough to be able to sing along, but I think they needed to find a place on this list more for the fact that they were ever present in my life through the late 70’s and early 80’s.

Ballyhoo – Man On The Moon
This song makes it into the list by osmosis. I was not a huge fan of Ballyhoo, but jolling in Joburg during the 80’s, you couldn’t escape them. If you walked through Hillbrow on the way to a disco or bar, you were bound to hear Ballyhoo spilling out onto the street from a dinner club or music venue. After a while, they just became part of the wallpaper, and then you found yourself humming the damned tune.

éVoid:- Shadows
I spent my teenage years in a club called DV8, drinking, smoking, and generally being a hooligan. éVoid regularly made an appearance in the basement dive and never failed to bring the house down. Shadows was their biggest hit, and it brings back the fondest of memories.

Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse – Burn Out
I know, I know. You’ve heard it a million times. Make it a million and one. I love the song because it is so tightly intertwined with a memory that I recall like it was yesterday. My buddy Steven and I are gunning it down Louis Botha Avenue in Johannesburg at about 3am, on our way to a dice at the Pickin’ Chickin, and I do my radio DJ song ID over the iconic intro to Burn Out. Man, good times!

David Kramer – Botteltjie Blou
After matriculating, I started a law degree though Unisa and studied at the RAU library in Johannesburg. That’s where I first took notice of David Kramer. His posters were everywhere on campus, I remember getting a copy of Bakgat! from the record library and falling in love with it. I became a fan. To this day I have the same reaction as I did the first time I heard Botteltjie Blou. It is a sad song that pierces deep. I am instantly reminded of the terrible wave of deaths associated with the consumption of methylated spirits in the early 80’s. Back then, we spoke about it with a “shame, hey,” but the better I understood the world, the more I grasped how landless, poor, desperate, and brutalized people would go to any lengths to dull the pain, even drinking meths through a half-loaf.

Mango Groove – Pennywhistle
In the early 80’s, just out of matric, my circle of friends used to hang out at a club in Norwood called Quavers. It was a reasonably priced Jazz venue with great murals and a small stage in the corner. Steve, Mel, Lee, Gav and all the rest of us were regulars and could be found there at least once or twice a week downing flaming Sambucas with coffee beans floating in them, or late-night Irish coffees. Mango Groove was a regularly featured band and we landed up seeing them at least ten or fifteen times. It must be said that a good part of our gang lusted after Claire Johnston, so maybe the Sambuca wasn’t the only draw. Lacking sex appeal but perhaps the more memorable member of the group was Mickey Vilakazi, the trombonist. A showman with his instrument, he was both brilliant and fun to watch. Great memories.

Juluka – Thandiwe
I first saw Juluka perform live at the Free Peoples Concert on the WITS University sports fields. It wasn’t the last time. I was lucky enough to see the band bring the house down a few years later at Grahamstown’s Settlers Monument theater, and I attended Cleggs final farewell concert in San Diego. I remember hearing the song Thandiwe for the first time when my older brother and his friends had African Litany on the Hi-Fi. I can’t be sure, but today it feels like that was the moment I found the link between the music that was coming from Freddy’s PM9 powered record player in the back yard and the popular music on my radio. In the end, Juluka turned out to be crucial in shaping my attitude to Apartheid. Their songs helped break down my ideas of what being African meant and set in concrete my resolve to defy the SADF draft and do what I could to affect a different outcome in South Africa.
Johannes Kerkorrel en die Gereformeerde Blues Band – Ossewa
When the Voelvry tour came to Grahamstown in 1989, it was a lightbulb moment for me. Here was a group of Afrikaners who were pissed off about the same things I was. Even better, they played rock and blues and they were satirical and wry. It ticked all the boxes for me. I could have chosen a more political song from the tour, but honestly, I cracked up when I heard Ossewa for the first time. My family ran a motor spares shop in Edenvale, so the thought of cruising to Transkei at 160km/h in a V6 ox wagon with Elvis playing on the tape deck was brilliant!

Jack Parow – Cooler as Ekke
Jack Parow is one of those guys that figured out Afrikaans rap was waiting for a champion and a sense of humor couldn’t hurt. This is one of those songs that will remain evergreen for me.

Jack Parow and Valiant Swart – Tema Van Jou Lied
And then, Jack Parow showed his softer side by working with Valiant Swart to turn a well-crafted song into something extraordinarily touching and beautiful.

Vusi Mahlasela – Say Africa
The song Say Africa was written and originally performed by Dave Goldblum and appeared on his album Valley Road in 1997. Vusi Mahlasela took an already brilliant song and turned it into an iconic South Africa anthem. I find myself singing the chorus every now and again, especially when I am feeling a little homesick.

Urban Creep – Shot Down
I have always been a fan and admirer of Chris Letcher, not least of all because I had the pleasure of playing on a stage at his side. The fleeting moment our band went supernova at Jameson’s remains one of my most treasured memories. But he has never been better than when he paired up with Brendan Jury in Urban Creep. It gives me chills.

Springbok Nude Girls – Blue Eyes
I fell for SNG long after everyone else had. When I first heard Blue Eyes, I was already in the United States back in the early 2000’s. The song begins as a serene lullaby and then explodes into its signature fuzz. It is beautiful throughout and reminds me of a passionate argument with someone you love.

One Large Banana – Leave This Town
You might think I say this because I count Brett as my closest pal, but I have always loved his first EP Don’t Feed the Animals. It captures a moment in South African music and Grahamstown’s college vibe. I like to think it would have been the music I’d have been playing had we continued together in a band. More than anything, the songs are bloody catchy and turn into earworms immediately. A nod to Gareth Sweetman on Drums whose dad passed away recently, John Taylor on Guitar who is now quite respectable, and the smooth Jo Edwards with the golden pipes.

67 Minutes For Mandela

The 18th of July is Mandela Day, the date on which we celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday. It is also the date of the “67 minutes for Mandela” campaign, when everyone is encouraged to volunteer 67 minutes of their time to do something for their community. The message of the Mandela Day campaign is that Nelson Mandela fought for social justice for 67 years and in return people are asked to reciprocate by contributing 67 minutes.

This mixtape celebrates the life and contribution of Nelson Mandela by featuring 67 minutes of music recorded in his honour.

There are many songs we have not featured here simply because there is an abundance of songs to choose from and therefore many songs simply could not be included. We decided to feature musicians from our own continent, and mostly from South Africa. Some of these songs were written while Mandela was still in prison and at the time they expressed a yearning that he would one day be free. This spirit of hope was particularly captured in Hugh Masekela´s “Mandela (Bring Him Back Home)”, Chicco’s “We Miss You Mandela”, and Savuka’s “Asimbonanga” – all of which became popular across South Africa in the late 1980s. Chicco’s song was released as “We Miss You Manelow” in a (successful) attempt to bypass censorship of a song overtly about Mandela. Youssou N’Dour’s “Nelson Mandela” celebrated Mandela’s life from Senegal, while Abdullah Ibrahim recorded “Mandela” from the distance of exile.

In the aftermath of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, on the 11th February 1990, several musicians released songs commemorating his life to that point, and celebrating his new-found freedom. Brenda Fassie’s “Black President” was the most popular of these, especially on South African dance floors, while Bright Blue’s “Madiba” was a more circumspect tribute. Other tributes soon followed, including Prophet of Da City’s iconic “Neva Again” and the African Jazz Pioneer’s anthemic “Viva Madiba”. The mixtape closes with a sequence of lamentful songs in praise of Nelson Mandela: Vusi Mahlasela’s “Ntate Madiba”, Dorothy Masuka’s “Mandela”, Linda Kekana’s “A Song For Madiba”, Khadja Nin’s “Mzee Mandela”, and Simphiwe Dana’s “Madiba”.

Assembling the mix, it struck us that the passion, hopes, and dreams of many of the artists at the time have been betrayed by a social justice revolution corrupted by kleptocrats and grifters. One particular thought drives home the tragedy of lost promise and broken promises.

Bright Blue’s rousing chorus goes:

Is there a night without a day?
Can you imagine it’s all been for nothing?
Could it be any other way?
Oh no, never, no, no

One can’t help wondering if it was all for nothing. Perhaps if we’d imagined the conditions that might betray the hopes and dreams of a nation back in 1990, it might have been prevented. But we didn’t, and so today millions still live in abject poverty as social services, infrastructure, public utilities – everything – collapses. If ever there was an ironic metaphor for this decay, a Minister of Transport landed in hospital following an accident allegedly caused by potholes they’d failed to have repaired.

The only growth is crime, violence, and government corruption, and it will remain on-the-up while decent and hard-working South Africans have anything left to steal or the endurance to carry on sweating, bleeding and weeping.

Still, we can’t say it was all for nothing. It wasn’t. But at the same time, few of us are doing the same optimistic dance we were doing 30 years ago. It is hard to dance in the face of the biggest disappointment of the 20th Century.

But, the music was great, wasn’t it?

Thanks to these musicians, and many others, who dedicated their time to write and record songs in honour of Nelson Mandela, his legacy will certainly live on in song, a reminder to us and future generations of what he stood for, and a challenge to us to make our own contribution towards social justice. There is still a great deal of work to be done.

  1. Black President – Brenda Fassie
  2. Mandela (Bring Him Back Home) – Hugh Masekela
  3. We Miss You Mandela – Chicco
  4. Nelson Mandela – Youssou N’Dour
  5. Asimbonanga – Savuka
  6. Mandela – Abdullah Ibrahim
  7. Neva Again – Prophets Of Da City
  8. Viva Madiba – African Jazz Pioneers
  9. Madiba – Bright Blue
  10. Ntate Mandela – Vusi Mahlasela
  11. Mandela – Dorothy Masuka
  12. A Song For Madiba – Linda Kekana
  13. Mzee Mandela – Khadja Nin
  14. Madiba – Simphiwe Dana