Friday, July 28, 2006

How many times have you seen Johnny Clegg live?

Hey? What's that? Never?!!

I saw my first Johnny Clegg concert when I was about 11 years old at the Good Hope Centre in Cape Town in 1985. This was quite an adventure as I went with a group of teenagers I did not know and I think some of Johnny Clegg and Juluka's songs were banned at the time (for being anti-apartheid). It was amazing - my first concert and a truly African experience for someone brought up in a predominantly European setting.

Since then I have been to many Johnny Clegg shows and he always blows me away. It was after one of these shows that I became truly committed to South Africa. After watching Clegg tell stories about his songs and his life on the stage of the Baxter Theatre during my final year of varsity, I was inspired by his experience of being African and how this had traveled with him wherever he went in the world. I resolved to find work in South Africa rather than follow most of my friends to London.

So I looked forward to seeing Johnny Clegg perform at the Johannesburg Civic Theatre tonight and launch his new album. He performed with the Soweto Gospel Choir who have been bowling over audiences around the world for the last year.

It did not disappoint and I shared the experience with a friend who has recently returned to South Africa and moved to Johannesburg. That somehow seems significant.

Johnny Clegg on stage at the Johannesburg Civic Theatre

Johnny Clegg's show continues to this Sunday, 30th July at the Johannesburg Civic Theatre.

The song playing, Asimbonanga (Mandela) - from Third World Child by Johnny Clegg and Savuka (1987), commemorates the deaths of poltical activists and the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela during apartheid. It became a freedom anthem during the eighties.

Lyrics:

ASIMBONANGA
(Zulu for 'We haven't seen him')

CHORUS
Asimbonanga (We haven't seen him)
Asimbonang 'uMandela thina (We haven't seen Mandela)
Laph 'ekhona (in the place where he is)
Laph 'ehlelikhona (in the place where he is kept)
Chorus

Oh the sea is cold and the sky is grey
Look across the island into the bay
We are all islands 'till comes the day
We cross the burning water

Chorus

A seagull wings across the sea
Broken silence is what I dream
Who has the words to close the distance
Between you and me

Chorus

Steven Biko...
Asimbonanga (We haven't seen him)
Bonang' umfowethu thina (We haven't seen our brother)
Laph' ekhona (in the place where he is)
La wafela khona (in the place where he died)

Victoria Mxenge...
Asimbonanga (We haven't seen her)
Bonang' udadewethu thina (We haven't seen our sister)
Laph' ekhona (in the place where she is)
La wafela khona (in the place where she died)

Neil Aggett...
Asimbonanga (We haven't seen him)
Bonang' umfowethu thina (We haven't seen our brother)
Laph' ekhona (in the place where he is)
La wafela khona (in the place where he died)

Awu ngithi hey wena (Oh, I say 'hey you')
Hey wena nawe (hey you and you as well)
Sizofika nini la' siyakhona (When will we arrive at our true destination?)

Chorus

1 comment:

Dave said...

Johnny is the King, watched him live 3 times now and he was brilliant every time!