The Music Of The South African Anti Apartheid Movement

1259 Words6 Pages
University of Pennsylvania

Musical Independence: The Role of Music in the
South-African Anti-Apartheid Movement

Andrew Fixler

Timothy Rommen

Music 050: Introduction to Music in Cultures


“Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it” (Bertold Brecht in Askew 2003: 633). Despite evolution across the globe and the continued development of societies and cultures, one entity has remained present throughout – music. Though manifested in various forms, music has and continues to play an integral role in a multitude of settings, ranging from religious ceremonies to theater to pop culture and beyond. With universal influence, music possesses the ability to unite a nation behind a single cause yet simultaneously subjugate a people through musical propaganda and censorship. For instance, due to a lack of literacy and economic means in countries such as South Africa (plagued by apartheid sanctions), oral communication through music increases the accessibility of critical ideas. Nonetheless, though musical artists have the capacity to assert politically subversive statements through song, vehement government censorship and even propaganda reflect music’s immense influence. Thus, a vessel through which sound is transformed to expression, music has tremendous political ramifications. Exploring the transformation of South-African music from “a mirror” of the apartheid struggles to a “hammer with which to shape”
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