Amandla drove the ANC struggle
The African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa was driven culturally by Amandla that was made up of people drawn from all tribes.<br /> There were members from Shangaan, Sepedi, Zulu, Xhosa and the Venda.
Amandla was aptly called a political theatre because of the way the group presented its liberation music. The group performed rock, jazz and poetry as well as dance.
Rooted in the age old African ways, Amandla’s performances reflected the kind of struggle Africa is known for. To many people, Amandla provided the voice for the voiceless.
Based overseas since all its music was banned in South Africa during apartheid era, the group carried with it not only the ANC war message but depicted the picture of suffering, deprivation and oppression the ordinary South African endured back home.
Furthermore, Amandla espoused the longing, the hopes and the undying belief in the South African masses for a bright future where all people live like brothers and sisters.
The group also fund-raised for education, food and clothing for ANC cadres staying in the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College in Tanzania.
Just like its name, the group strengthened the people resolve to fight on for an independent South Africa and a free society.
Rightly so, Amandla was formed in 1978 by students who had taken part in the 1976 Soweto uprising.
Some of them fled the country and attended the World Festival of Youth and Students in Cuba where the members got together and gave birth to the group.
There were 45 members when the group was found and this number was trimmed down to 35.
Some of the members were Jonas Gwangwa, Nora Mapule Pitsi (known as Dikeledi Mokoena in the struggle); Daisy Nompumelelo Tshilwane (known as Fortune Nala in the war).
Thokozani Maureen Magxwalisa (known as Julinda Klaas during the war); Mandisa Blossom Mephitis (called Louisana Gugwini in the war); Doctor Pooe (or Bethuel Khoale Mosquitoe in the war); Refiloe Dyer (called Prudence Masuku Nanas in the war); Nonkululeko Beauty Mraqisa (called Viola Mkhize in the war).
Others were Nocawe Nomalizwe Merriam Doshane (or Angela Moa in the war); Mantoa (“or Belinda in the war); Lorraine McClare (or Mamonkie Simelane in the war); Stella Mbentshe (also called Noluthando Pungula in the war); Dudu Mbanjwa; Sibusiso Judas Mabaso (also Mbongeni Dingindawo in the war); Mikkie Lebona (or Sandile Khumalo Skhulu in the war); Joe Mthembu (Mrashushu in the war); Jabulani Magubane (called Patrick Sithole in the war); Msimang (or Jeniffer Mothwa during the war); Nomathemba Ramncwana (also called Nelly Kota); Wiseman Ntombela (called Livingston Tikwane Santana in the war); Welile; Welcome Msomi; Sandisile; Lemmy Nkuta (whose war name was Selina Binda); Jonas Gwangwa and Promise Nkosi (called Pinki in the war).
The group was led by Gwangwa, who plays the trombone and who received the order of Ikhamanga (gold) ‑ one of the six such orders any South African president can bestow on an individual or a group ‑ on behalf of the members in 2011.
The order was given by President Jacob Zuma for the group’s “contribution to the struggle against apartheid through their cultural performances”.
Individually, Gwangwa received another Order of Ikhamanga from musician Hugh Masekela; and the Order for Meritorious Service (Class II: Silver) from former South African president Nelson Mandela.
One of the group’s songs titled “Farewell” says: “Oh!/ Oh!/ We will get home, however difficult it may be/ Your words are enlightening, comforting and give us courage/ Go well, child of Africa/ Our nation in its entirety, remembers you/ We have wondered around the world for too long/ In search of means of freeing ourselves in our land.”
The other one titled “What Could Have Gone Wrong” is even more evocative: “What could have gone wrong countrymen? / What could have gone wrong that we die like dogs? / Awake! Cast away the veil of darkness/ Awake! In this year of the youth/ The hour is come for heroes and heroines/ Pack up your belongings! Go, join MK./Come all for training against these disrespectful boers / These disrespectful boers kill heroes of our motherland. They also did a song in honour of the late ANC President Oliver Tambo, lead us, /Lead us, Tambo/ Lead us, Tambo, /Let us repossess / Our country / This is our year (It is our year, The year of the spear) / The spear of the nation)/ Lead Tambo (Lead us, Tambo, let us repossess our country).”
These were the songs that drove the youth to join the war. These songs strengthened them to stand up and fight.
Armed with these songs, Amandla took to the stage to win hearts in Europe and teach the people about the evils of apartheid.
They toured Scandinavia in 1980 before taking on southern Africa with performances in Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania in 1981.
Then in 1982, they went back to the Germany Democratic Republic, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and the USSR. All these countries were sympathetic to the cause and the fight against apartheid.
When apartheid was crumbling in 1990, some of the members returned to South Africa but they went into solo careers.