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Liberating the Oppressors

Liberating the Oppressors

by Andy Davis / 14.10.2009

“We’re the only place I think in the world where people not only forgave their oppressors but also gave them an elevated international social status. We actually freed our oppressors in this country. And it’s never happened in history. You know Spike Lee warned us before we got free and he said, ‘listen the one thing you shouldn’t expect is for the privileged population of South Africa, after you are free, to come back to you and say, listen we’re so sorry that we made so much money off your backs through these centuries here’s 500 trillion dollars to show you how sorry we are. That’s never going to happen, so you better start working hard because there won’t be any goodwill or charity, instead the people who gained all these freedoms through you will be congratulated when they travel all over the world, because they will have the money. And they will be congratulated for freeing you’. And Pik Botha and De Klerk have said it over and over again how they freed us. And then he said, ‘they will be allowed to do business where they weren’t allowed to previously, even in Africa they will be allowed to do business, they’ll be the first South African businesses because they will have the money to do it. And they will still be in the cricket teams and rugby teams that weren’t allowed to play and they will get that glory. And they will be allowed to criticise the government and not go to jail. Unlike the government that gave them the privileges – and you shouldn’t expect any goodwill from them. But what is going to be your duty is to try and make them remember what happened in the past. Don’t let them gloss over the past. You yourself shoudn’t be comfortable and complacent in your own freedom otherwise you’ll lose every little freedom you fought for’.”
Hugh Masekela pauses and looks at me, shaken from the Spike Lee reminisce, not smiling anymore.
“And I can feel that slide happening here, and all those things coming to pass. And it’s necessary that we make people aware of all those things.”
‘Spike Lee was on point.” I say.
“Yeah he was right on there.”
“Do you see a social rejuvenation?” I ask
“No I think it has to be inspired, because even the people who were in our political leadership, you know, those who were the soloists in the chorus of our freedom have been sucked into the privileged establishment without being aware of it and have left their communities to live the comfortable life of the elite. The very people who oppressed them have become their friends. They are not militant anymore and they were our conscience. They have left a void and I think we have to inspire those who want to pursue that loop, that it is OK, that they are not alone. And we also have to fire up the complacency of the youth, not to just be mired in raves and fashion and dance and grooves and wearing the same clothes and being European and American wannabes.

“We have to look inside to see what we have here, and also to realise how much the world envies us. I mean we are the only country in the world that can have an international cultural festival without importing anybody. We’re the most cosmpolitan society in the world but we’re xenophobic about it. Because there’s xenophobia all over the world, but here it certainly doesn’t threaten us. And we should unlock the value of our immigrants. We have to unlock the value out of all those things that Verwoerd and apartheid tried to destroy. Because those were the things that made us, South Africa, unique.

“And we have forgotten them, this is evident because you see them. Those things sparkle a little bit on Heritage Day, on Freedom Day but they’re just for that day, then they go away. But those things should be at least every weekend. And we need to enjoy this country, so we need safety and security. Maybe if the government doesn’t do it for us we have to come out in numbers and enjoy who we are. It’s beginning to happen a lot in the festivals. Almost every weekend we play festivals where 30, 40 thousand people come out and there’s no violence, people are very calm. And I’ve been telling the promoters that there’s still segregation in the festivals. There are white festivals and black festivals and that has to end, there should be cross advertising. People should advertise across all aspects of society. We need to enjoy this country together.”

Read part 1 here and part 2 here.

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RESPONSES (15)
  1. D says:

    exactly -black people singing like white people is not the only way to crossover – fusion means going the other way too- why dont PASS and Rocking the Daises collaborate so that we can get some edge back,…….please -Honkies and their BEE friends need it bad and so do inverted coconuts like me-not to mention the peeps who cant afford to spend a grand getting drunk in the sun.[how many litres of water does it take to make a litre of beer my carbon neutral friends?]spike would have a heart attach if he clocked the crazies here….lets fuse not confuse 🙂
    great site thanks

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  2. Andy says:

    Thanks D, we at Mahala want to conjure a truly integrated, post race South African audience.

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  3. tara says:

    hugh just has so much more spunk than one would ever expect, and then again i suppose expectations deserve to have themselves brought forward. And man can he dance.

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  4. D-devil says:

    Oh man I couldn’t of said it any better. the thing with us youth is that we are all thinking the same thing yet we its like we are waiting for someone or something to make things happen so we can join. Its time we take responsibility and envoke these enstiments that you have expressed here as fellow South Africans and Africans in General.
    What we need is to create a strategic institution that will create a forum for discussion in which all these issues are discussed but above that one that harness the energy of the youth and directs it towards a positive proactive strategic action that will bridge the gap between the have and have nots and unite them under one united African agenda of development, consolidation of our realtionships through cooperation and solidarity amongst all those who believe in the potential that we as Africans have and want to see it being achieved or at least strive towards it.
    There are so many African professionals out there and if we can come together there will be no skills shortages.
    Its up to us to make sure we unite our efforts in building a better Africa for future generations to come so we can stand in the global arena as equals.
    Myself and the people at Africa Rising say lets come together and colaborate our efforts in creating such an organisation that can work to celebrate our unique identity and celebrate who we are so that no African ever has to look at himself or evalaute ourselves through he eyes of westerners. and no its nopt about west vs. africa but as our former president, Nelson Mandela, said “he has faught against white domination and he has faught against black domination’
    This is a country that belongs to all those that live in it and we should have equal opportunities in enjoying the splendour and beauty that it has.
    We are a proud people and have achieved so much but history has for so long taught us that we are incapable.

    The time is now
    Together we stand divided we Fall
    A luta Contnua

    A great site you guys have indeed.
    Good work
    Lets link up yeah

    ndabam1@gmail.com

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  5. miclick says:

    Bra Huge is da prophet and i know he dont wanna be a politrician he should be, we need him.
    Nice peice,

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  6. Yoni says:

    Bra Hugh is on point once again. I think SA will only realise what a legend he is once he’s gone.
    And yes, we need festivals that market and appeal accross race and culture. Comeon promoters, have some balls, stop following the formula.

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  7. death to interior decorators says:

    Andy have you finished your instalments on this preachy old has-been? Please tell us there isnt more to come. Have the rest of of you backslapping ja-broer commenters had your fill of merrily agreeing with everything he says? Masekela is a fine one to criticise the government and the black elite for all the imperfections in South Africa today since his family has been intimately connected to the ANC and the givernment for many years. Google “Barbara Masekela” for more backround. He is in a much better position than the rest of us to influence real change from a much more influential position but instead he chooses to play sickly-sweet pop music thinly dressed up as ‘jazz’ to as many people as possible. Is he doing this to spread a meaningful message or instead to make as much money as possible? Please stop saying that this man is ‘steeped in jazz’ when the real jazz musicians in this country are struggling and not prepared to compromise their art like this hypocrite does.

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  8. julius says:

    This is a message to that death the inferior deficator.

    You are not allowed the use the words “black elite” and “hypocrite” together. That is my job, not yours. The clever man that fix my computer every day says we can supeena your IP number from Mahala if we want to. So all it takes is one phone call to my friend Mo Shaik and you will have the Hawks cutting open your trellidoor faster than you can say “Bra Hugh Is A Jazz God”. And you must belive me, when they are finished with you that is the only thing that you will be saying.

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  9. Andy says:

    No, there’s one more.

    You tell him Julius

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  10. Sumire says:

    but death to interior decorator , u missed the point!

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  11. Sumire says:

    BTW, great article Andy, and we want more!!!!!

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  12. death to interior decorators says:

    And the point is? Other than the power of peer pressure and political brinkmanship?

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  13. Yoni says:

    @ death to interior decorator

    What the fuck are you talking about “pop music”.

    Bra hugh cut his teeth in nyc with the world greatest Jazz muzo’s and they considered him an equal (read Miles Davis’s autobiography if you doubt this). He jammed with bob marley, jimmy hendrix, fela kuti, and many other greats of the music world.
    He could easily have played generic american jazz and been very successfull but instead he has constantly told the african story and played jazz with an african twist. For me he is SA’s greatest muzo by miles.

    Watch this video and tell me that he is making pop music and not spreading a meaningful message: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgYhTTZXP4g

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  14. death to interior decorators says:

    @yoni. Thanks for the video clip, it illustrates my point very well. If you removed the politically tinged monologue and the odd backing vocal from that song you’d be left with nothing but neutered blues-funk of a very American nature. Combine that with the third-rate horn solo that milks crowd response with dumbed-down repetition a-la stadium rock, it then becomes very clear that Masekela may not be the best ambassador of the jazz idiom with a uniquely South African identity.

    There’s a difference between real jazz and the jazz-flavoured mediocrity that some people think makes them more sophisticated listeners. You wanna play the YouTube game? Cool, I’m up for that. Check this out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vaiN5Jwisn0. Real jazz with a genuine South African influence made by a technically gifted musician who is not afraid to meet the music head-on. Spot the difference??

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  15. Andy says:

    Jesus, who can fuck with Zim Ngqawana? But that does not make Hugh Masekela any less releavant or important. Zim represents the new school of SA jazz greats, and Hugh represents the old school.

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