Posts Tagged ‘south africa’

New hip-hop: Madiba’s Message (celebrating Cuban-Southern African solidarity)

Today marks 25 years since the army of apartheid South Africa was forced to start withdrawing from Angola after 13 years’ intervention in that country’s civil war, having been defeated in battle by a joint Angolan-Cuban force. Over the course of 1975-88, nearly 400,000 Cubans volunteered in Angola, mostly as soldiers but also as doctors, nurses, teachers and advisers. This is one of the greatest historical examples of revolutionary internationalism. When Nelson Mandela visited Cuba a year after his release from prison, he made an emotional speech in Havana in recognition of Cuba’s contribution to the liberation of southern Africa. That speech is sampled in this track.

“This is revolutionary Cuba; internationalist Cuba; the country that has done so much for the peoples of Africa. The Cuban people hold a special place in the hearts of the people of Africa. The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom and justice unparalleled for its principled and selfless character. From its earliest days the Cuban Revolution has itself been a source of inspiration to all freedom-loving people. We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of a vicious imperialist-orchestrated campaign to destroy the impressive gains made in the Cuban Revolution.

We too want to control our own destiny… Long live the Cuban revolution.”

Read the full speech

Fidel was overcome with emotion on hearing Madiba’s speech. In his own speech, he said:

“It would not be right for us to emphasise Cuba’s modest contribution to the cause of the South African people, but on hearing Mandela’s speech, compañeros, I believe that he paid the greatest and most profound tribute that has ever been paid to our internationalist fighters. I believe that his words will remain, as if they were written in gold letters, as a homage to our combatants. He was generous, very generous; he recalled the epic feat our people performed in Africa, where all the spirit of this revolution was manifested, all its heroism and steadfastness…

“We knew – how could we not know! – that those events [in Angola] would have a profound effect on the life of South Africa itself, and this was one of the reasons, one of the motives, one of the great incentives that pushed us on. Because we knew that once the problem in Angola was resolved, the forces that were fighting against apartheid would also benefit from our struggles.

“But have we said it this way before? No, never, because we believe that above and beyond the enormous support from abroad … the decisive and determining factor behind the ANC’s successes was the heroism, the spirit of sacrifice and struggle of the South African people led by the ANC.

“This man, in these times of cowardice and so many things, has come to tell us what he told us this afternoon. It is something that can never be forgotten and it reveals the human, moral and revolutionary dimension of Nelson Mandela.”

Please enjoy and share the track! Long live Cuba and long live free Africa! The legacy of Nelson Mandela lives forever!

Read more about Cuba’s intervention in Angola
Fidel and Madiba

Tribute to Steve Biko

steve biko34 years ago today, leading anti-apartheid militant and black consciousness pioneer Steve Biko was killed by apartheid police in South Africa. In the intervening decades, political apartheid has ended and various gains have been made, but the struggle against racism, imperialism and white supremacy continues in Biko’s name.

His writings remain essential reading. A few of his best-known quotes:

“The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed”

“It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die”

“Nothing can justify the arrogant assumption that a clique of foreigners has the right to decide on the lives of a majority”

“Whites must be made to realise they are only human, not superior. Blacks must be made to realise they are also human, not inferior”

“Being black is not a matter of pigmentation – being black is a reflection of a mental attitude”

Steel Pulse released the following tribute to Steve Biko on their classic 1979 album ‘Tribute to the Martyrs’.


The night Steve Biko died
I cried and I cried
The night Steve Biko died
I cried and I cried
Biko, O, Steve Biko died still in chains
Biko, O, Steve Biko died still in chains
Biko died in chains, moaned for you
Biko died in chains, moaned for you, yeh

Blame South African security
A no suicide he wasn’t insane
It was not for him to live in Rome, No
Still they wouldn’t leave him alone
They provoke him, they arrest him
They took him life away
but can’t take him soul
Then they drug and ill-treat him
Til they kill him
And they claim suicide

I’ll never forgive, I’ll always remember,
Not, not only not only I, no
But papa brothers sisters too, Yeh, yeh
Him spirit they can’t control
Him spirit they can’t man-trol
Cannot be bought nor sold
Freedom increases one-hundred fold.

The system
Something’s got to be done
Straight away
The system of weak-heart emontion
They’ve got to pay
The system of backra corruption
They’ve got to pay
The system is destroying my nation
The system kill him

O, O Jah Jah, O Jah Jah
Take them where life sweeter
Send a Moses to set them free
Pharoah’s army won’t let them be
From the beginning he knew
He’d meet his end
Yes my friend
They’ll keep on ruling, all hours Jah
Jah send
I’ll tell you again
Dem take him life – Dem take him soul
Him spirit they can’t control
Cannot be bought nor sold
Freedom increases one hundred fold

The system, the system, the system
Something’s got to done,
The system where black man
Get no recoginition
The system of colour partition
The system should be dumped from creation
The system kill him

O, O Jah Jah, O Jah Jah,
Take him where life sweeter
Send a Moses, send a Moses.
Pharoah’s army won’t let them be
Biko died in chains
Moans for you
Biko died in chains all are moaning
Moans for you
Steve Biko died still in chains
Steve Biko died still in chains
Still, still in chains
Still, still in chains

Long live the memory of Stephen Bantu Biko.

Massive respect to Sway for this deep tribute to Nelson Mandela

Happy Birthday brother Mandela! So happy to hear this tribute track from UK hip-hop legend Sway on a day when so many people seem to be focusing on the compromises Mandela made with white South Africa and with the international financial institutions.

Revolution is a multi-generational process. Nelson Mandela moved it forward; our job is to pick up where he left off. Do you really think that his compromises (made to keep the country together) were more significant than his positive contribution?! Sometimes I think the only way for a revolutionary from the Third World to be ‘pure’ enough for Western liberals is to die a glorious death. Yes, Mandela made compromises; in the light of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the aggressive push of the IMF in the 1990s, it’s hardly suprising. But the destruction of legal and political apartheid is a huge step forward, the significance of which should not be downplayed, especially by people who have never experienced being second class citizens in their own countries.

Anyway, once again, big up Sway. Great track.

Biko the Greatness – a poem by Benjamin Zephaniah

steve bikoToday is the 33rd anniversary of the murder of Stephen Biko at the hands of apartheid police in South Africa. Although only 30 years old at the time of his death, Biko had become one of the leading intellectuals and activists of the anti-apartheid movement. A talented organiser, a sharp mind, a courageous heart and a passionate revolutionary, he is one of the most important martyrs of the struggle against apartheid.

This poem about Biko is written by Benjamin Zephaniah, without a doubt one of the best poets and writers alive today. Zephaniah is also a great activist and an inspiring personal example to us all. Brought up in the Handsworth ghetto, he left school at the age of 13, unable to read or write, and soon became involved with petty crime, doing a short prison stint for burglary. However, inspired by his love for all oppressed people and driven by a great personal desire to impact the world positively, he developed his abilities as a poet and a writer. Today he continues to be one of the greatest cultural representatives of working class and oppressed people everywhere.

Biko the Greatness

Wickedness tried to kill greatness
In a corner of South Africa
Where they believed there were
No mothers and fathers
Where they believed
One could not hear the cries of another
Wickedness tried to kill greatness

Wickedness tried to build a nation
Of white tyrants
In a corner of the planet
They arrogantly downpressed
They did no overstand
As they suffered the illusion of the God complex
But these words are not for wickedness

These words are for greatness
The greatness that inspired doctors and nurses
To become educated in the art of freedom getting
The greatness that inspired educators to become liberators
And a nation of children to become great themselves

South Africans in the valley of the shadow of death
Feared no wickedness
Because greatness was at their side
And greatness was in their hearts
When the wind of change went south
Greatness was its trustee, guided by truth

Now we who witnessed the greatness
Sing and dance to his legacy,
We who muse his intelligence
Spread the good news in Reggae, Soul, Marabi
And the theatre of liberation,
Knowing that nobody dies until they’re forgotten
We chant Biko today
Biko tomorrow
Biko forever.

Wickedness tried to kill greatness
Now wickedness is dead
And greatness lives
In Islington
As he lives in Cape Town

Interview with Steve Biko (PDF)

Interview with Benjamin Zephaniah, Part 1Part 2Part 3

Article by Zephaniah explaining why he rejected an OBE

Review: Mangaliso Asi – Heartbeat of the Street

Mangaliso Asi

Photo by Bruno Nguyen

Many London hip-hop heads (myself included) first heard of Mangaliso Asi at the Jay Electronica gig at the Jazz Cafe back in November 2009 when Jay hosted a short open mic segment. Mangaliso stepped straight up and, to the amazement of the crowd, absolutely merked it! Jay Electronica looked pretty much dumbfounded. “Daaamn. Most times you let people on the mic and they can’t really spit. This motherfucker can SPIT!” Jay went on to instruct Gilles Peterson, who was in the crowd, to get Mangaliso on his Worldwide show on BBC Radio 1.

A few months later and Mangaliso has released his much-anticipated debut mixtape, ‘Heartbeat of the Street’, an incendiary and emotional statement about the statement of the world and Mangaliso’s place within it.

Mangaliso Asi’s diverse cultural heritage clearly plays a major part in forming his style – his biog describes him as the “son of a Jazz singing father and a single mother raising her first child against the back drop of Apartheid South Africa.” Now living in London, the influence of Soweto is still evident in his music, as he deals with topics that the average rapper wouldn’t touch with a barge pole, such as AIDS (actually, if you think about it, it’s incredible that so few rappers are willing to talk about AIDS, given that it is one of the leading causes of death in the US ghetto – what happened to keeping it real?).

As indicated by the mixtape’s title, Mangaliso places himself firmly at street-level, representing the dispossessed and downtrodden. It’s not the type of ‘street’ that glorifies the crack industry or promotes a negative attitude to women; it’s the type of ‘street’ that rejects the suicidal prejudices that come from the corporations, the mass media and the governments.

Through me the street speaks
I am the voice that gives speech to the freedom we seek.

For a new artist, his voice is impressively well-honed and his lyricism appealing. I think it’s fair to say that his technique is strongly inspired by Rakim.

Cop the mixtape now – it’s a free download – and keep an eye out for Mangaliso. DOWNLOAD LINK

Mangaliso Asi on Bandcamp
Mangaliso Asi on MySpace
Mangaliso Asi on Twitter
Mangaliso Asi on YouTube
Mangaliso Asi on Facebook

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