"Meadowlands" was an anti-apartheid song composed in 1956 by Strike Vilakazi.It was written in reaction to the forced relocation of black South Africans from Sophiatown, to the new township of Meadowlands. The song was popularised by a number of musicians, including Dorothy Masuka and Miriam Makeba, and became an anthem of the movement against apartheid.
The Afrikaner National Party (NP) was elected to power in South Africa in 1948, and remained in control of the government for the next 46 years. The white minority held all political power during this time, and implemented the system of apartheid."Apartheid" involved a brutal system of racial segregation, and the word itself meant "separateness" in Afrikaans. Black South Africans were forced to live in poverty stricken townships, and were denied basic human rights, based on the idea that South Africa belonged to white people. The NP government passed the Group Areas Act in 1950 and the Bantu Resettlement Act in 1954. These laws forcibly relocated millions of South Africans into townships in racially segregated areas. This relocation was part of a plan to separate the black population of South Africa into tiny, impoverished bantustans. The settlement of Sophiatown was destroyed during the implementation of this plan in 1955, and its 60,000 inhabitants forcibly moved. Many of them were sent to a settlement known as Meadowlands. Sophiatown had been a cultural centre, particularly for African jazz music, prior to the relocation.
The forced move away from the Sophiatown township inspired Strike Vilakezi to compose "Meadowlands". Originally sung by Nancy Jacobs and Her Sisters, "Meadowlands" was set to an "infectious jive beat". It featured music writer Todd Matshikiza on the piano.As with many other protest songs of this period, "Meadowlands" was made popular both within and outside South Africa by Miriam Makeba, and it became an anthem of the movement against apartheid. Several other songs, including Makeba's "Sophiatown is Gone", and "Bye Bye Sophiatown" by the Sun Valley Sisters, also referred to the relocation from Sophiatown. "Meadowlands" has subsequently been quoted in compositions by South African musicians, especially in Cape Town, and was covered by several artists, including the Tulips, and Dolly Rathebe. The song was performed outside South Africa by several artists during the apartheid era, helping "expose the injustices suffered by oppressed racial groups", according to commentator Michaela Vershbow. In 2007, it was included in the collection "Essential South African Jazz."
The lyrics of the song were written in three languages; IsiZulu, SeSotho, and tsotsitaal , or street slang."Meadowlands" was superficially sunny and upbeat, including the line "We're moving night and day to go to Meadowlands / We love Meadowlands." This led the South African government to mistakenly believe that the song supported the relocation program. This interpretation was the result of the government relying on a literal translation of the lyrics. The government was so pleased with the song that Vilakezi was praised by a bureaucrat for the song, and reportedly, had a housing application approved. However, the lyrics were intended to be ironic. The residents of Sophiatown understood this interpretation, and sang the song as their possessions were removed from the township by government trucks. Thus the song has been referred to as a notable example of using ambiguous meaning to convey anti-government sentiment in a covert manner. Vershbow describes the lyrics of the song, such as "We will move all night and day / To go stay in Meadowlands / You'll hear the white people saying / Let's go to Meadowlands", as expressing the emotional devastation of the forced move. Scholar Gwen Ansell stated that it was "as rich in nuance as a traditional fable".
Hugh Ramapolo Masekela was a South African trumpeter, flugelhornist, cornetist, singer and composer who has been described as "the father of South African jazz". Masekela was known for his jazz compositions and for writing well-known anti-apartheid songs such as "Soweto Blues" and "Bring Him Back Home". He also had a number-one US pop hit in 1968 with his version of "Grazing in the Grass".
Mbaqanga is a style of South African music with rural Zulu roots that continues to influence musicians worldwide today. The style originated in the early 1960s.
Zenzile Miriam Makeba, nicknamed Mama Africa, was a South African singer, songwriter, actress, United Nations goodwill ambassador, and civil rights activist. Associated with musical genres including Afropop, jazz, and world music, she was an advocate against apartheid and white-minority government in South Africa.
Sophiatown, also known as Sof'town or Kofifi, is a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa. Sophiatown was a legendary black cultural hub that was destroyed under apartheid, rebuilt under the name of Triomf, and in 2006 officially returned to its original name. Sophiatown was one of the oldest black areas in Johannesburg and its destruction represents some of the excesses of South Africa under apartheid. Despite the violence and poverty, it was the epicentre of politics, jazz and blues during the 1940s and 1950s. It produced some of South Africa's most famous writers, musicians, politicians and artists.
Meadowlands is a suburb of Soweto, Gauteng Province, South Africa. It was founded in the early 1950s during the apartheid era for black residents from Sophiatown.
The Jazz Epistles were South Africa's first important bebop band. Inspired by Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, its members included Dollar Brand on piano, Kippie Moeketsi on alto saxophone, Jonas Gwangwa on trombone, Hugh Masekela on trumpet, Johnny Gertze on bass, and Early Mabuza or Makaya Ntshoko on drums. The group became famous after performing in the jam sessions called Jazz at the Odin in the Odin Theater in Sophiatown.
Amandla!: A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony is a 2002 documentary film depicting the struggles of black South Africans against the injustices of Apartheid through the use of music. The film takes its name from the Zulu and Xhosa word amandla, which means power.
"Pata Pata" is an Afro-pop dance song popularized internationally by South African singer Miriam Makeba. "Pata Pata" is credited to Makeba and Jerry Ragovoy. Her most popular recording of "Pata Pata" was recorded and released in the United States in 1967. The song is considered by many to be Makeba's signature hit and it has since been recorded by many artists.
Todd Tozama Matshikiza (1921–1968) was a South African jazz pianist, composer and journalist.
King Kong (1959) was a landmark South African jazz-influenced musical, billed at the time as an "all-African jazz opera". It has more recently been called "an extraordinary musical collaboration that took place in apartheid-torn South Africa.... a model of fruitful co-operation between black and white South Africans in the international entertainment field, and a direct challenge to apartheid." Opening in Johannesburg on 2 February 1959 at Witwatersrand University Great Hall, the musical, based on the life of Ezekiel Dhlamini was an immediate success, with The Star newspaper calling it "the greatest thrill in 20 years of South African theatre-going".
Come Back, Africa (1959) is the second feature-length film written, produced, and directed by American independent filmmaker Lionel Rogosin.
Have You Seen Drum Recently? is a 1989 film which uses photographs from the Drum archives to tell the story of the magazine and documents its contribution to the cultural and political life of South Africa.
"Mannenberg" is a Cape jazz song by South African musician Abdullah Ibrahim, first recorded in 1974. Driven into exile by the apartheid government, Ibrahim had been living in Europe and the United States during the 1960s and '70s, making brief visits to South Africa to record music. After a successful 1974 collaboration with producer Rashid Vally and a band that included Basil Coetzee and Robbie Jansen, Ibrahim began to record another album with these three collaborators and a backing band assembled by Coetzee. The song was recorded during a session of improvisation, and includes a saxophone solo by Coetzee, which led to him receiving the sobriquet "Manenberg".
"Soweto Blues" is a protest song written by Hugh Masekela and performed by Miriam Makeba. The song is about the Soweto uprising that occurred in 1976, following the decision by the apartheid government of South Africa to make Afrikaans a medium of instruction at school. The uprising was forcefully put down by the police, leading to the death of between 176 and 700 people. The song was released in 1977 as part of Masekela's album You Told Your Mama Not to Worry. The song became a staple at Makeba's live concerts, and is considered a notable example of music in the movement against apartheid.
The apartheid regime in South Africa began in 1948 and lasted until 1994. It involved a system of institutionalized racial segregation and white supremacy, and placed all political power in the hands of a white minority. Opposition to apartheid manifested in a variety of ways, including boycotts, non-violent protests, and armed resistance. Music played a large role in the movement against apartheid within South Africa, as well as in international opposition to apartheid. The impacts of songs opposing apartheid included raising awareness, generating support for the movement against apartheid, building unity within this movement, and "presenting an alternative vision of culture in a future democratic South Africa."
Strike David Vilakazi was a South African vocalist, drummer, trumpeter, composer, and music producer. He was known for composing the anti-apartheid song "Meadowlands", and for his career as a producer, during which he was influential in the development of mbaqanga.
Renaissance is the second studio album by the South African quartet the Soweto String Quartet, released in October 1996 by BMG Records. It follows the national and international success of their debut album Zebra Crossing (1994), and was produced by Grahame Beggs. As with their previous album, Renaissance blends classical music with African pop and folk music, while also exploring new textures, with styles on the album including marabi, kwela and worldbeat. Quartet member Reuben Khemse described the album's themes as reawakening, revival and the dawn of new eras.
Rashid Vally was a South African music producer and record shop owner. He ran a record shop in downtown Johannesburg, and produced langarm and jazz music. He had a successful collaboration with pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, including the production of "Mannenberg" (1974), a piece which became associated with the movement against apartheid. Scholar Gwen Ansell described his As Shams label as giving "a voice to modern jazz" in 1980s South Africa.
No Borders is the forty-fourth and final studio album by South African jazz trumpeter Hugh Masekela. The album was released on November 11, 2016 via Universal Music label.