Tag Archives | South Africa

Singing Against Apartheid — “We Are the Youth!”

In class this week we sing “Thinantsha,” an anti-Apartheid anthem. I sing the song alone in this video, but the version we recorded for All Around This World: Africa is multi-part Zulu harmony reminiscent of a church choir. I first heard “Thinantsha” — “We are the Youth!” on the Smithsonian Folkways CD “This Land is Mine: South African Freedom Songs”  as a 1965 performance by South African exiles living in Tanzania, marking their defiance of the Afrikaner government and their determination to succeed in their struggle for equality. The anti-Apartheid forces certainly proved their persistence; Apartheid did not end until the early 1990s.

Sweet South African Harmonies

Many South African church choirs, like the “UniZulu” choir in this video, sing exuberant harmonies. The style of singing blends buoyantly with harmonies that are also at the heart of non-religious South African musical genres, like “Isicathamiya,” which developed in the early 20th century in the gold and diamond mines as a way for miners to communicate with each other through rhythmic stomps, claps and codes.