ANC delegates united by the song of Solomon

2010-09-26 12:46

You cannot exactly do the vuma dance to it. Nor the twalatsa. Nor kwasa kwasa.

But it is the hit song of the moment and for ANC delegates at the party’s national general council (NGC) that ended in Durban on Friday it became THE song.

Forget Awuleth’ Umshini Wami, President Jacob Zuma’s signature war cry – Iyho uSolomon is the ANC’s new signature tune.

While delegates might have battled to find common positions on a wide variety of issues, when it came to belting out Iyho uSolomon they did so as one – and with gusto.

Sung with both arms outstretched, the song captured the mood, imagination and spirit of delegates across the political ­divide in the ruling party’s alliance.

Potentially an anthem of ANC Youth League revolt, it eventually became a symbol of unity at the landmark gathering.

In the run-up to the NGC the song was being sung around the country, first by ANCYL activists but later by the ANC mainstream. In KwaZulu-Natal last week Zuma himself led the singing of the song at several of the Imvuselelo rallies he attended, even in the IFP heartland of Ulundi.

Unlike at previous top-flight gatherings where the party’s rank and file sang and danced to a variety of competing songs, this time uSolomon won the popularity contest hands down.

Everywhere inside and outside the ­Durban Exhibition Centre delegates, including Zuma and members of the party’s national executive committee, sang
it at the top of their voices:

“Iyho uSolomon!
Isotsha lo Mkhonto We Sizwe!
Wa yo bulala amabhunu eAfrika!”

The loose translation is: “Oh Solomon, The Umkhonto we Sizwe soldier. He killed boers in Africa.”

While various ANC groupings at times appeared to be claiming ownership of the song, its origins and meaning remain ­unclear.

Some delegates City Press spoke to said it was composed by an unnamed member of the ANCYL while others said it was an old song of the ANC’s former military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK).

Several ANC members, including veterans, said they had never heard of the song before.

Ike Maphoto (81), an ANC veteran from Limpopo who spent more than 20 years in exile, said the song was new to him.

“I just heard it for the first time on Monday but I do not know the meaning behind it. Solomon Mahlangu is an ANC stalwart but this thing is new. It is not an MK song. I heard it is a song for the youth. When they sing it I cannot even join when they bend their bodies and stretch their arms,” said Maphoto.

Another Limpopo veteran known only as Comrade Marule also didn’t know about the song.

“The best people to ask would be people from KwaZulu-Natal because it is sung in Zulu,” he said.

Delegate Derick Meyer (40) from the ­rural town of Citrusdal in the Western Cape also had no idea.

“It is the first time I hear it but I heard from comrades here in Durban that it came from the youth. Someone in Gauteng or KwaZulu-Natal composed it but they do not tell us who,” said Meyer.

ANC KwaZulu-Natal secretary Sihle Zikalala – a former ANCYL secretary-general – shed some light on the mystery.

“This is a youth league song aimed at conscientising young people about the contributions of their peers during the struggle,” Zikalala said.

“It is not a new song or an MK song but is about our young comrades celebrating and acknowledging the role of Solomon Mahlangu, a young MK cadre who paid the ultimate price for his contribution to the struggle when he was executed.”

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