Protest songs on Africa


Journalists of British daily The Guardian have made a list of protest songs. All of them in the English language.

I ‘ll reproduce some of that list on this blog. Not exactly in the same way as they did. Eg, they have options to listen to songs on Spotify, which is not available in all countries.

And I have added links. And grouped the songs according to themes. The theme of this entry is Africa.

Free Nelson Mandela The Special AKA 1984.

Few protest songs achieve their stated aim, but this ebullient Afropop anthem definitely played its part. Beloved of left-wing discos and adopted by South African Mandela supporters, this big-band plea for the release of Robben Island’s most famous prisoner also persuaded its composer Jerry Dammers to quit music for full-time anti-apartheid activism. GM

Zimbabwe, by Bob Marley and the Wailers, live 1979.

Written by Marley during his pilgrimage to Ethiopia in 1978 and recorded for his album Survival – the cover of which depicted the flags of Africa’s independent nations – this stirring song in support of the freedom movement in Rhodesia became its own self-fulfilling prophesy. The opening verse declared “Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny”, and on 17 April 1980 Marley found himself singing it on the Zimbabwe’s independence day in front of an audience that included Robert Mugabe, Indira Gandhi and Prince Charles. CLS

[Unfortunately, I could not find a video of this song. UPDATE December 2011: but now, I have.]

The Ballad of Sharpeville Ewan MacColl 1960.

On 21 March 1960 a peaceful black demonstration against apartheid in the Transvaal township of Sharpeville ended in massacre when the police turned their guns on the unarmed demonstrators, killing 69 and wounding hundreds of others. MacColl’s response was immediate: he sat down and wrote one of his most epic songs, coldly recounting the distressing details of the tragedy in the manner of the old broadside ballads. XX

2 thoughts on “Protest songs on Africa

  1. Pingback: USA bans Celtic music in Cuba | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Lost Bob Marley recordings restored | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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