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South African songs in Simsbury, CT, USA

posted 19 Jun 2011, 12:57 by Robert McLaren
Saturday night I did a performance of my programme of South African songs, Mzansi. It took place in the house of an executive of South African origin who lives in Simsbury, not too far from Hartford, Connecticut. The audience was about 20 specially invited friends and colleagues, who included one or two South Africans and others of African, Indian and Caribbean origin. 

There was great participation and everyone sang along and danced and not only had a good time but learnt one or two things about South Africa, its art and its history. Because I included an Umkhonto we Sizwe song, 'Hamba kahle Mkhonto', which has the line 'thina bant' bomkhonto sizimisele ukuwabulala wona amaBhunu' (we of Mkhonto are committed to killing the Boers, our enemies), the whole question of the place of liberation songs that talk of violence or imply killing in the new South Africa came up. It was explained that in those days 'amaBhunu' referred to the enemy, upholders of the vicious and racist apartheid system. It had nothing - and does not have anything now - to do with killing farmers. Some felt such songs had no place, others felt that it was part of the history of the struggle in South Africa and that all South Africans should confront that history openly and honestly. The evening ended with emotional renditions by all present of 'Nkosi Sikelel'', 'Morena Boloka' and 'Die Stem'.

'All my friends were very impressed with the evening and enjoyed the experience tremendously. They also learnt a lot, and that is a good thing" Host, Simsbury, CT, US