Story

Similar to Songs of Conscience, Songs of Struggle were born and bred mostly within the pre-democratic South Africa. They live against the backdrop of the “Struggle” for liberation of so many South Africans, and are dedicated to them.

Blue Chilli

Story

Based on an old folk song with the same title and melody, Let my People go is a liberation song of South Africans against the oppressive Apartheid regime.  (1989)

Lyrics

When Africa was in the White Man’s hand

Let my people go

Oppressed so hard they couldn’t stand

Let my people go

Go down people, go to Pretoria

Tell the government

Let my people go

 

For too long have we slaved and sighed

Let my people go

Too many are hurting, too many have died 

Let my people go

Go down people, go to Pretoria

Tell the Broederbond

Let my people go

 

We will not have our people banned

Let my people goWe claim our equal share of land

Let my people go

Go down, people, go to Pretoria

 Tell the Nationals

Let my people go


We will not have our people slain

Let my people go

Injustice is the cause of our pain

Let my people go

Go down, people, go to Pretoria

Tell the government

Let my people go

 

Our children will be free one day

Let our children go

And everyone will have a say

Let our children go

Let them go, let them go

Let them go, let them go

Let our children go

 

No more shall we in bondage be

Let my people go

We rise up in hope and unity

Let my people go

Go down, people, go to Pretoria

Tell all oppressors

Let my people go

 

Go down, people, go to Pretoria

Tell all oppressors

Let my people go

Blue Chilli

Story

Azanian Love Song is a bone chilling Struggle poem, written in 1983 by Don Mattera.The poem remains unchanged except for repeating phrases in attempting to carve a musical landscape around the powerful words. (1988)

Lyrics

Like a tall oak

I lift my arms to catch the wind

With bruised fingers

Somewhere in the Ghetto a child is born

A mother’s anxiety and pain

Hides in a forest of hope

 

Like a straight pine

I point my fingers at God counting a million scars

On my dreams

Somewhere in the Ghetto a child is weeping

A woman writes her legacy

On leaves of despair

 

Like a weeping willow

I drop my soul into a pool of fire

Somewhere in a dark sanctuary

I hear the sound of a freedom song

Somewhere in the dark sanctuary

A freedom song

 

The child has risen

And walks defiantly

Undaunted

Unafraid

Towards the lion’s lair

Blue Chilli

Story

When Chris Hani was assassinated, tributes to him compared him to an eagle who was prepared to roar towards freedom and justice at the expense of his own safety. The Eagle is dedicated to him, his family and all the other greatly inspiring, but often unknown, heroes of the Struggle.   (1989)

Lyrics

You fought for those of us with broken wings

With battered beaks, for those who cannot sing

You fought for all the wounded and the lame who cannot fly

You’ve risked your life your loved ones and your nest

You were strong and you flew higher than the rest

Crossed seas of desolation and you braved the winds and storms

 

Hani, Hani, Hani

You’re a soaring eagle with justice in your beak

A dove behind your eye, a poem inside your heart

Hani, Hani, Hani

And although they’ve killed you

Tried so hard to destroy you

They’ll never stop you flying higher still

 

You’re a fighter soaring closer to the sun

Than the rest of us, confused still where to run

Thus you were the target of the vultures of the night

In their cage of greed and fear they cannot see

That their violence cannot stop you flying free

For its eagles of your kind that make us victors in the end

Blue Chilli

Story

Several of attempts to write a song for and about Nelson Mandela were unsuccessful and failed to capture him as one of the most outstanding idols in our present time whilst also honouring his exceptional authenticity and humbleness in his relentless strife for the liberation of all people.  His book “The long walk to freedom” poses some beautiful phrases which were woven into the song as well as  the melody of “Nkosi Sikilel’ iAfrika” (God bless Africa in Xhosa - part of the new South African anthem, originally composed by Enoch Sontonga in 1897). (2002)

Lyrics

Mandela, Mandela, Madiba

A child is born in freedom

Untroubled by laws of Man or God

Free to run and free to swim, Madiba

But freedom is an illusion

In a world of force and abuse

The walk to freedom is driven by a great hunger

For all people to live their lives in dignity

This hunger transforms fright into boldness

Turns self-absorption to benevolence


Mandela, Mandela, Madiba

On the road to freedom

We’ve achieved the freedom to be free

But to cast off the chains is just the first part of the journey

On the road to freedom

There are many hills to climb

Now is the test of our devotion to be free

For with freedom come responsibilities

We all need to enhance liberation of others

With respect, before we truly can be free


Mandela, Mandela, Madiba

That long walk to freedom

Mandela, Mandela, Madiba

Steal a moment’s view of the glorious vista around

But we dare not linger or rest too long, Madiba

The long walk to freedom has only just begun

Blue Chilli

Story

Troubled Soul was inspired by a story of some white Cape fruit farmers in Ceres, South African Cape. Whilst facing their own difficulties, most farmers hired poor black labourers on a seasonal as well as daily basis without offering any job security or the usual benefits of employment. This had devastating effects on the already poor population in the vicinity.  (2002)

Lyrics

Down, past the mountain creek

Along a rugged road of gravel bleak

Where meadows green and river beds leak

There are farming fields for those who seek

To sweat long labour, plough the soil

Drag the water hose to straight or coil

Harvest the fruit without spill or spoil

For half a bread and a drop of oil

It’s such a beautiful country

But it has a very troubled soul

 

The labourer watches clouds towering the sky

He prays that there won’t be another storm

He‘s just rebuilt his shack after the fire

And rains bring floods, no work, no pay, no corn


The farmer takes a break on his veranda

He’s bankrupt and he’s got a new Mercedes-Benz

His eldest son is studying law in Canada

Whilst the sun sets here behind a barbed wire fence

 

The labourer says, “Oh Master there’s a problem

My wife is ill, my children have no food to eat”

The farmer frowns, “Sorry, I can’t afford higher wages

But you are free to go, maybe others have more meat”

Blue Chilli

Story

This song deals with traumatic events and the challenges of identity. (1995)

Lyrics

Your heart beats strong and brave, iAfrica

Your dress is black-white-grey

With shades of joy and fury between, iAfrica

This song’s for you, iAfrica

You’re all I ever new, yet I’m a stranger on your soil, iAfrica

 

You were raped by my fathers, scorned by my mothers

Betrayed and abused by my kin

I’m an African, and my skin is the colour white

I’m haunted by the past, and I’m compelled to fight

But Africa no matter how hard I tried

iAfrica, I’m just an orphan child

Born on your blood


You are my land, iAfrica

At last you are now free, 

For the tables they have turned, iAfrica

Let justice be, iAfrica, but my breath is now the price

In a vacuum of strange revenge, iAfrica


For the past has long fingers, it seeks retaliation 

Its nails are clawing on my flesh

I’m an African and my skin is the colour white

Haunted by the past I am compelled to fight

But Africa, no matter how hard you tried

iAfrica, I’m just an orphan child

Almost part of your blood

Blue Chilli

Story

Until Mandela’s release in 1990 the Apartheid regime enforced conscription for all white men to serve in the Army for 2 years, and thereafter on standby. They could legally refuse only on religious grounds, and any other refusals were punished with 6 years imprisonment. The South African Army was used to “defend” the country by, amongst other things, shooting black fellow South Africans in the townships to prevent demonstrations and uprisings, or by destabilizing neighbouring countries that supported the banned ANC. So there were many young men who found this incompatible with their values and beliefs. Some refused to serve as conscientious objectors, whilst others tried to make a difference from the inside - all bore the scars. Johnny is a tribute to all these white men with their battered conscience. (1990)

Lyrics

Johnny was the youngest one, he was close to his mother

Johnny was like any other child, but he was softer than his brothers

Johnny loved plants and animals and cried when he was sad

Johnny couldn’t stand hard words, he ran away when things got bad

They said: Johnny, you’re such a sissy

Sensitive and funny, you’re not like a real boy


Johnny was just seventeen when he finished school

Johnny wanted to study French, his brothers said he was a fool

But his father had already plans and decided what the best would be

Johnny was to follow first his call-up to the Army

He said: Johnny, you’re such a softy

But soon the Army will make a man of you

 

But Johnny didn’t want to go, he couldn’t sleep well anymore

He didn’t want to kill anyone, he believed in peace, not war

So Johnny prayed and asked the Lord how killing could be right

But the pastor said, it’s just the enemy, those black terrorists one has to fight

He said: Johnny, you must not worry

God is for the Army, your duty is to serve

 

So Johnny packed his bags and left by train to Bloemfontein

They gave him boots and a uniform, shaved his head and drilled him trained

Johnny learnt to obey commands and how to use a gun

Now he patrols the Townships too, in a Casper armed to the bone

And they say: Johnny, at first it’s scary

But time makes easy and then it’s one of those things

 

There are many Johnnies who are forced to learn to kill

Many harden to their feelings, some pay psychiatric bills

Others play hard to forget or pretend that it’s alright

Some decide to refuse to serve and some try suicide

 

But Johnny, whatever your deal be

Your sensitivity is what makes you humane

Oh Johnny, this world needs softies

With love and empathy to stop the killing and the wars

Blue Chilli

Story

The Truth Commission in South Africa embarked on one of the most difficult and admirable journeys towards reconciliation in the post-Apartheid era. Antje Krog’s relays this painful journey under the extraordinary guidance of Desmond Tutu in a multifaceted, chillingly poetic and deeply touching way in her book, Country of my Skull. With her permission the title for this song was borrowed, and wove in one of the frequently sung anti-Apartheid struggle songs, “Senzenina”.  ( 2006)

Lyrics

To create a new morality

We seek a shared humanity

So restore the pride, reveal the past

For memories show us how we’re cast

Your truth, mine and theirs

Where’s the truth of all

In this battered country of my skull

Senzenina, Senzenina


Tortured bleak by so much wrong

Truth can’t bring back the many dead

But from their silence they are freed

Your truth, mine and theirs

Spell out who we are

In this crippled country of my skull

What have we done 


Humans slaughter fellow mates

With power-greed pale than hate

In cruelty beyond humane

Thinking this justified and sane 

Your truth, mine and theirs

Is a burden well

In this tortured country of my skull

Our only sin is the colour of our skin

  

Oh exclusive ideologies

Instigate such monstrosities

Let’s shine on all that we share

With respect and compassionate care 

Your truth, mine and theirs

Become truth of all

In this healing country of my skull

Ubuntu

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