By Gloria Dulan-Wilson
Last year in February, 2012, my friend, producer Sparkie Martin sent me this great clip of UMOJA
| a South African musical that he was promoting. I couldn't stop playing the music over and over |
again. I absolutely love South African music - there is so much vibrancy,
energy, rhythm, meaning - and even pathos - that you feel it right down in your very soul.
I have included the YouTube clip in this blog in honor of both Black Music Month and
President Nelson Mandela, and the brothers and sisters of South Africa, who are the very
epitome of what that music is all about. . I hope you can hear it and it leads you
to go on YouTube and view all six of the acts or log on to umojatheshow.com.
They are so fantabulous.
President Nelson "Madiba" Mandela has been a personal hero of mine since I was in high school,
which is when he was first incarcerated by the racist apartheid regime. We learned about his
incarceration, the murder of Patrice Lumumba, and so many other atrocities taking place against
those in Africa who were trying to throw off the colonizers oppresive yoke. Jomo Kenyatta and the
MauMaus were also personal heroes of mine. Our history and social science teachers kept us well
informed and up to date about Africa, in much the same way they did the racism we were suffering
right here in the US. They wanted us to understand that it was all related, all the same oppressors,
just geographical differences. The path between Africa and Blacks in America was a two-way street.
(By the way: UMOJA is Swahili for Unity or Togetherness - Kenya and Tanzania gave refuge to those
leaders who had to escape oppression to go back and fight again)
With President Nelson Mandela so seriously ailing at this time, all of South Africa is on a LIFE watch,
praying for the full recovery of this powerful man, their first President, also known as the father of
Democracy in S.A. He's currently suffering from a lung ailment that seems to be resistant to treatment.
He had been responding favorably to treatment, but suddenly returned to the hospital on Friday,
June 21. We here in the US are also praying for his full recovery and continued health.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to do a tour of Africa, starting with Senegal, to but it is
hoped, under the current circumstances that they will re-arrange the schedule, and go to
South Africa first, since it is unknown whether or not Mandela will survive long enough for
the two iconic men to meet. President Obama has always considered President Mandela a p
ersonal hero of his - as he is to many of us worldwide. (The President will also be going to
Tanzania, however, there have been many, including yours truly, who wonder why he is
not also visiting Kenya as well?)
in South Africa, for his defiant stand against Apartheid. During the 27 years of his torture and
incarceration, the ANC (African Nationalist Congress) and the youth of South Africa, under his
then wife, Winnie Mandela, continued their resistance and assault against the racist regime
stared by Voervord in the 1940's. During this time, (actually starting with the Boer and British i
nvasions) South African Blacks could no longer walk or live freely in their own land. They were
subjected to harsh treatment, outright shootings by the so-called police, and had to carry passes
with their photos and stamps showing they had authorization to be in a certain part of their own
having Mandela released in 1990. He became the first Black president in modern times of South
Africa; however, instead of continuing the hostilities (as many of us kind of expected and wanted
him to do - we kind of wanted revenge against the tyranny they had suffered - especially us Black
folks here in the US), he put together a reconciliation plan which averted what surely would have
been years and years of protracted blood baths.
New Yorkers especially were instrumental in effecting a massive boycott of South Africa, helping
the ANC bring the heinous regime to its knees. The brutal massacre of innocent students at Soweto,
the Sharpville Langa Massacre; the production of Sara Fina, a musical drama which toured the US
graphically depicting the atrocities they were enduring, and support of such celebrities as Harry
Belafonte, Danny Glover, Michael Jackson and others, all brought the message home, that South
Africa (and later Zimbabwe, SouthWest Africa, and other such oppressed areas) could no longer be
allowed to exist. Artists and musicians were warned that if they performed in racist South Africa they
would find their products boycotted - "Oh no, we won't perform in Sun City", was the chant of the
day (unfortunately vocalist Millie Jackson didn't get the memo, and the consequences to her career
were swift and dire.) Companies that traded with South Africa found that their products were not
allowed in the US.
Mayor David Dinkins, New York City's first Black mayor honored President Mandela with a reception
and a ticker tape parade through Avenue of the Americas. It was the first (and only) time that an
African head of state was given such an honor in New York City (or anywhere else, for that matter).
The streets were lined with proud Africans, African Americans and Caribbean Americans who
watched as the humble man waved and smiled his way through and into the hearts of New Yorkers.
President Mandela only served one term as President of South Africa, and retired with his second wife,
Graca Machel, serving only in the capacity as an advisor to those who succeeded him. At the
age of 94, he has withstood rigors, hardship, challenges many half his age have not been able
to stand up to.
According to an international news publication: South Africa's president Zuma, has said Barack
Obama will still meet Nelson Mandela, despite the national hero's failing health. The US President is
due to meet his fellow Nobel peace laureate during a short tour of Africa, but the 94-year-old is critical
in hospital with a lung infection. And today Mr Zuma said: "Madiba (Mandela's clan name) has been
unwell for quite a while. There's nothing that's going to stop the visit because Mandela is sick. If you
stopped that visit, people would ask questions. Obama is coming whilst Madiba is in hospital not well."
Jack Hillmeyer, a spokesman for the US Embassy in Pretoria, told the Daily Telegraph: "Obviously the
president and the first lady and everyone is keeping him their thoughts and prayers. We certainly
will be watching and following developments but for now, we are continuing with preparations
(for the visit)."
This is the youtube clip. Hope you can view it. If not, log on to umojatheshow.com
Everybody, as you enjoy the music of South Africa, send out a prayer for President Nelson
Mandela, his wife Graca, family and all the people of South Africa - pray that Our President,
Barack Obama has a safe and successful visit to Africa, and that these two Icons have a
chance to really exchange ideas and share the considerable wisdom, knowledge and
understanding they have each amassed in their own right in their journey as leaders.
Stay Blessed &