Artists must bear the world ...

2011-04-22 09:26

Last Wednesday I received two important pieces of news which got me thinking – the first being the announcement of this year’s SA Music Awards nominees; the other the death of a man who was gunned down while asking for a better life for all. We will remember him as Andries Tatane of Ficksburg.

These events reminded me of an old friend I know who credits the soil and his crimson libations for the colour of his skin. About music he always says: “For our talking drum to lose its dum-dum, healers must renounce the scent of our soil for the special hollers of Dollars and Rands. So we must pray that their palms will always long for the lovely bruise of hope’s rhythm.”

My friend’s words, along with Tatane’s death, stalked my impressions of the Samas. I noticed that many of the nominations are unconcerned with the social truths of Tatane’s death. In other words, there’s no soundtrack to the raging service delivery protests, but partying music is plentiful.

This is not to say all our musicians are indifferent to our troubled body politic. There are artists like Kesivan Naidoo whose album, Instigators of The Revolution, is an admirable creative experiment with authenticity. Simphiwe Dana too – though not nominated – is also clearly struggling with the meaning of being a sincere artist.

But this bunch seems like a minority that is drowned out by the deafening din of jive; and here jive refers to the embrace of trivial joys.

Further, I’m bewildered by the Samas’ many categories. Separations like best Afrikaans gospel, best African traditional gospel and best contemporary Christian music album baffle me. Is Afrikaans not African and is contemporary Christian music not gospel  I think the appeal of being accommodative has won over creative rigour on this one.

So we have to ask ourselves what the Samas must mean for us as a nation, including artists and consumers. The answer must involve our expectations or standards for music as art in a time when people can die while demanding a better deal from the state. We should be alarmed when musicians are vying for tenders to compose jingoistic jingles for the head of state and his mates. Otherwise who will compose critical poetics against the abuse of power?

If we agree that Tatane’s murder, no matter its finer details, marks an epoch-changing moment in the contemporary story of our nation, our artists must then reflect it with better dashiki dialogues.

As Nigerian poet and novelist Ben Okri writes in the book A Way Of Being Free, our musicians must “be like the tortoise: bear the shell of the world and still sing your transforming hymns woven from our blood, our pain, our loves, our history, our joy”.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.