Saturday, November 10, 2007
The Liberator's Call
1980 First Swedish Studio LP (LIMITED DOWNLOAD)
Today's recording has special significance for me. I got a cassette copy of this recording in 1983 whilst a student at Pietermaritzburg University in South Africa. At this time possession of this music (in any form) was illegal and carried a sentence of 5 years minimum imprisonment. I couldn't understand how music could be imbued with such significance. When I went into exile in 1986 to avoid conscription I searched high and low for this particular recording with little success. Over the years I managed to pick up the later Russian recordings but no luck with this first LP. Until this year when a good friend tracked down the LP to a second-hand rack in a store in Sweden. So thanks to Joachim I have located one of my holy grails of record collecting and you get the chance to listen to an important historical document.
Amandla first performed at Festac in Nigeria in 1977 and the following year at the Cuban Youth Festival. This first recording was made at Radio Luanda and Radio Zambia studios during 1980 and released internationally by the Swedish Labour Movement Record Company in 1980. The first international tour took place in 1981 in Sweden. Musical director of Amandla was Jonas Gwangwa, one of the stalwarts of South African jazz.
"From the mid-1970s exiled political groups, particularly the African National Congress (ANC), came increasingly to recognize the value of culture in promoting the struggle abroad. 1974 saw the establishment of the Mayibuye Cultural Ensemble, a London-based grouping that was to achieve considerable success in Europe. Mayibuye was an agitprop group whose performances consisted of an awareness-raising narrative about apartheid interwoven with poetry readings and rousing renditions of freedom songs. In the late 1970s, as increasing pressure forced many of Mayibuye’s performers into more direct political work, another group was in the budding stages of development closer to home. The Amandla Cultural Ensemble originated amongst ANC exiles based largely in military training camps in southern Africa, and became a popular ambassador for the movement across Africa, Europe, the Soviet Union, and elsewhere. It offered large-scale, increasingly professionalized performances incorporating jazz, theatre, and dance. Its performances were intended not only to raise international awareness about apartheid, but also – perhaps more importantly – to present an alternative vision of a future, more inclusive South African culture." (Gilbert, Shirli. Singing against apartheid: ANC cultural groups and the international anti-apartheid struggle, Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, 2006-10-05)
1981 Live recordings from first Swedish Tour
1982 Russian studio recordings
1987 Russian studio recordings
at 10:41 AM