Whilst life had to go on under difficult circumstances during the dark days of apartheid, our musicians and artists had to make sure the spirit of the quest for liberation never died. There had to be a sensitive balance maintained between motivating our people, keeping them entertained and constantly reminding them about the prevalent socio-political conditions.
Different bands (ie. Mirriam Makheba, Hugh Masekela, Caiphus Semenya, Jonas Gwangwa, Letta Mbulu just to name but few) played this role exceptionally well. Music became a morrow in which we could see ourselves – in happiness, sorrow and anger. We sang, danced and protested because our artists kept the home fires burning on the music front. Constant shouts of “Amandla” would be prevalent in concerts and political messages were disseminated in these gathering. Most importantly, afro-soul artists bore the brunt of apartheid brutality as their music was banned on radio. These are the people who flew our flag high. Currently we have the likes of Ringo, Zahara, Lira, Mafikizolo, Thandiswa Mazwai, Zonke, The Soil, Simphiwe Dana and many more who took the baton from these legends and continue to make it relevant.
Where are they today? Are they enjoying the fruits of their labour? We have forgotten them. Our radio stations and music labels have buried them alive. We are told not to record their music anymore and concentrate on the American sounds. We are instructed to shove imperialist sounds down the throats of our people. We are now made agents of imperial culture. We cannot stand beside and look. Our vision with these awards is to raise a voice and say no, stop killing our music.