Heritage is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as: (1) property that descends to an heir and this is also the first known use of the word, 13th century; (2) something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor; (3) something possessed as a result of one’s natural situation or birth.
Here, in South Africa, it is the blend of our Rainbow Nation, of our diverse cultures, beliefs and traditions that we celebrate on the 24th of September, on Heritage Day.
I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart To hold and stand me by I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart Under African sky I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart I see the fire in your eyes I’m searching for the spirit of the great heart That beats my name inside
Johnny Clegg, Great Heart
News headlines enter and leave my mind as I drive through the morning traffic, my eyes focused on the row of blinking lights ahead of me.
Rarely a news headline catches my full attention, extracting me from the traffic, my mind searching for all the info it has on the subject.
Johnny Clegg, musician and activist, pioneer, anthropologist, dancer, songwriter and all-round South African past away on 16th of July 2019.
What was so special about the music of Johnny Clegg?
It was simply infectious, a spirited blend between Western pop and African Zulu rhythms.
In France Johnny Clegg was fondly called Le Zulu Blanc – the white Zulu.
Johnny Clegg, musician pioneer
Johnny Clegg was born in the UK, to an English father and Zimbabwean mother who later moved to South Africa and remarried.
It was Johnny’s stepfather, a crime reporter, who took Johnny into the townships of South Africa at an early age thus exposing Johnny to a different cultural perspective.
Johnny formed his first band, Juluka, at the age of 17, with Sipho Mchunu.
Later, Johnny Clegg was one of the first South African musicians to perform in a mixed-race musical performance – this would have been the ’70s. His music received ovations in Europe and America.
Johnny Clegg’s song Scatterlings of Africa was his first entry into the UK Charts. This song was also featured on the soundtrack to the 1988 Oscar-winning film Rain Man.
Copper sun sinking low Scatterlings and fugitives Hooded eyes and weary brows Seek refuge in the night They are the scatterlings of Africa Each uprooted one On the road to Phelamanga Where the world began I love the scatterlings of Africa Each and every one
Johnny Clegg, Scatterlings of Africa
A live history lesson with Johnny Clegg:
In the video above South African Legend Nelson Mandela joins Johnny Clegg on stage during the rendition of Asimbonanga, a song written by Johnny Clegg about Mandela’s 27 years of incarceration.
Johnny Clegg has performed on all four of Nelson Mandela’s 46664 Aids Awareness Concerts in South Africa and in Norway.
Johnny Clegg’s passing away was two days ahead of the Mandela’s 101 years birthday anniversary.
1988 The Mayor’s Office of Los Angeles Award: For the promotion of racial harmony
1988 Le Victoire French Music Industry Award for biggest
International record album sold in France between 1987 and 1988 (1.3
1989 Honorary Citizen of the town of Angouleme, France
1990-1991 French Music Industry Award for the biggest selling world music album in France
1990 Humanitarian Award: Secretary of State of Ohio, USA
1991 Awarded the CHEVALIER DE L’ORDRE DES ARTS ET DES LETTRES (Knight of Arts and Letters) by the French Government
1993 GRAMMY AWARD nomination for best World Music Album (Heat, Dust and Dreams)
1994 Billboard Music Award Best World Music Album
1996 Medal of Honour – city of Besancon
1998 Kora Awards: Best African Group
2004 Mayoral Medal of Honour from Mayor of Lyon, France, for
outstanding relations between the people of Lyon and South Africa
2004 Medal of Honour – Consul General of the Province of Nievre
2004 Medal of Honour – Consul General of the Province of L’Aisne
1986 Scotty Award : Master Music Maker 1987 Communication Contribution Award 1987 The Autumn Harvest Music Personality Award 1988 OK TV Best Pop Music Award 1988 CCP Record Special Award : In recognition of exceptional achievement in promotion of South African music internationally 1989 Radio 5 – Loud & Proud Award – South African Music Ambassador of the Year 1990 FOYSA Award (Four Outstanding South Africans) Junior Chamber of Commerce 1999 Avanti Award – Best Music Video “Crocodile Love”
Johnny Clegg’s passing will leave an immense gap in both local and international musical and cultural scenes.
What the World Cup and Wimbledon Finals, Barack Obama’s Visit to South Africa and Mandela’s Centenary Have Taught Me
Middle of July is packed with world class sporting and political events. Russia hosted the 2018 FIFA World Cup, South African Kevin Anderson qualified in the Wimbledon 2018 Men’s Single Final (last time South Africa came this far was 97 years ago, Brian Norton in 1921), and former US president Barak Obama will deliver the 2018 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, marking the Centenary of Madiba’s birth.
For me, in the FIFA World Cup 2018the ball really began to roll in the Quarter-finals, with Belgium winning against Brazil 2-1 and Croatia winning on penalties 4-3 against Russia. Then, surprisingly or not, England lost 2-1 against Croatia in the semi-finals.
England’s lost against Croatia taught me that:
Even if you loose, you still achieved so much more simply by participating.
“‘It doesn’t matter that England lost. They came fourth out of all the countries in the world’#ENGCRO“:
My seven-year-old son just said:
‘It doesn’t matter that England lost. They came fourth out of all the countries in the world’#ENGCRO
I was touched by the thank you’s pouring from both sides (fans and team) as a result of The Three Lions’s journey through the Fifa World Cup.
Always remember to thank your supporters, no matter of their numbers or where they might be.
Don’t be afraid to dream.
“To everyone who supported us. To everyone who believed this time was different. To everyone who wasn’t afraid to dream. To everyone who knows this is only the beginning. Thank you. We hope we made you proud.”:
At the end 2018 Fifa Final, when Croatia lost 4-2 against France, the Croatian President KolindaGrabar-Kitarović stood in the rain, without any umbrella, to congratulate, hug and wipe the tears of the Croatian soccer players, showing her support, admiration and appreciation towards their outstanding game.
From Wimbledon’s Men’s Single Final there was a lot to learn on fair play, on being humble and on how to graciously accept defeat. The words of South African tennis player Kevin Anderson express all this:
Kevin Anderson also teaches us a great lesson on
giving back and remembering one’s roots:
“It means so much for me to have played in the @Wimbledon final. There are so many positives and great memories I will be taking with me. Thanks to everyone from South Africa and around the world for your support and messages”:
It means so much for me to have played in the @Wimbledon final. There are so many positives and great memories I will be taking with me. Thanks to everyone from South Africa and around the world for your support and messages. It has been an incredibly special fortnight. pic.twitter.com/WxKGvl6bho
On Barack Obama’s visit to South Africa, to deliver the 2018 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture – celebrating the centenary of Madiba’s birth.
“A winner is a dreamer who never gives up” (Nelson Mandela)
There is a lot to be said about the Nelson Mandela’s legacy, teaching us that change for the better is always possible, never give up hope.
“Even when the odds are long and the times are dark, change is always possible. But only if we’re willing to work for it and fight for it.” @MichelleObama’s message to #ObamaLeaders gathered in South Africa this week:
Former US president Barack Obama will deliver the Mandela lecture in Johannesburg on Tuesday, the 17th of July, with 15 000 people expected to attend.
“It’s not about who we like but what we are trying to address in a particular moment and the audience that we are talking to.”(The Mandela Foundation’s chief executive, Sello Hatang)
Barack Obama will inaugurate his most significant international project as an ex-president, with an announcement on Monday that the Obama Foundation plans to convene 200 young people this July in Johannesburg for five days of meetings, workshops and technical training. (The New York Times) Also, Obama’s visit to South Africa:
“It gives him an opportunity to lift up a message of tolerance, inclusivity and democracy at a time when there are obviously challenges to Mandela’s legacy around the world,” (Benjamin J. Rhodes, a former speechwriter for Obama who still advises him.)
“There’s an enhanced sense of tribalism in the world,” he said. “Our unifying theory is that the best way to promote inclusive and democratic societies is by empowering young people in civil society.”
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…”(Barack Obama)
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…” pic.twitter.com/InZ58zkoAm
In a world where terrorism takes over peace and hostilities replace kindness and tolerance; in a country where #FeesMustFall and, indirectly, so does education, a country governed by the local version of He Who Must Not Be Named, how do we keep our faith strong, for the sake of our children?
I keep on telling myself that the people make the country and not its politicians. Although the politicians may very well break it. After all, the people have the power to choose their own government. Although power is not the correct word here anymore, choice is. Just as I choose not to speak ill of my husband in front of my children – or anyone else for that matter and just as I do not speak ill of my own children in front of them – or anyone else, because I don’t want to break them.
I do not speak ill of my children’s teachers or of their school in front of them – because I don’t want to break their faith in their own education. Just as well, I choose not to speak ill of this country of ours. I think of Madiba, because he is my South African grandfather just as much as he is yours or his. I think of Madiba’s love for positive reinforcement and for this country.
Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom“: “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lay defeat and death.”
Your CAN DO list for keeping your FAITH in SOUTH AFRICA
CAN DO #1
Learn an African language. Learning another language helps breech cultural barriers, have access to and better understand other groups and people. And this is imperative in a country as rich as ours, with eleven official languages. Most schools nowadays offer a third language. Let’s celebrate this opportunity and learn with our children.
CAN DO #2
Engross yourself in other cultures. This is as easy as pie in South Africa and it will bring along respect and tolerance. Begin with food; try new recipes, local ones. Move into indigenous music, theater and home-grown, local authors. South Africa offers a rich cultural stew and it just waits to be tasted, I guarantee that you will enjoy it. We are all different, yet it is the sum of our traditions that makes us, South Africans, whole and unique.
CAN DO #3
Wavin’ the South African Flag. I know you sang it, I did too.
“Give me freedom, give me fire
Give me reason, take me higher”
Wavin’ Flag Official Anthem Version
Fly the South African flag now, it brings along hope, respect and pride.
CAN DO #4
Preserve the South African wildlife. It will make our children’s country beautiful and rich. You could volunteer to work in a wildlife nature reserve and live the African Conservation Experience. Or you can just do your bit at saving water and electricity; as monotonous as these may sound, they will help our country in the long term.
CAN DO #5
Buy South African products, buy local. By buying locally manufactured and grown produce, we stimulate job creation, decreasing unemployment in South Africa.
Did you know that “PRIDE” is an acronym?
P – Patriotism, Partnership and Productivity.
R – Reindustrialisation
I– Innovation and competitiveness.
D – Domestic Consumption
E – Entrepreneurship, Enterprise Development, Economic Development and Export Development
Have Faith, South Africa.
We owe it to our children. Just like we love them, clothe and feed them, we owe them faith in a better country. It will probably take another presidential mandate to get us out of the Junk Status Rating. But deep down in my gut I know that I owe it to my children to have faith and raise them as positive South Africans.
South African Oscar Winners & Nominees Over The Years
South Africans should take special note on the night of the 90th Academy Awards, as some of this country’s finest are in the running for the Best Animated Short Film category with “Revolting Rhymes“, directed by Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer. “Revolting Rhymes” Trailer:
The film is an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s and Quentin Blake’s classic fairy-tale book of the same name. It was produced by Magic Light Pictures and animated by Magic Light’s Berlin studio along with Cape Town-based Triggerfish Animation.
The awards ceremony will take place at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California, on March 4. Having already won the British Academy Children’s Award for Best Animation, “Revolting Rhymes” will be among the favourites in its category.
This is not the first time South Africa has had representation at the Academy Awards. Over the years, many South Africans have graced the Oscars red carpet, both as nominees and winners, proof of our deep-rooted talent.
Throughout the years many South Africans have won or been nominated to an Oscar, proof that this nation has plenty of deep-rooted talent as well as a good eye for the arts.
Proud South African Oscar wins, nominations and submissions throughout the years
1937 (the 9th Academy Awards Ceremony) – Basil Rathbone (South African born British actor) – Nominated for Best Supporting Actor, Romeo and Juliet
1938 – Basil Rathbone – Nominated for Best Supporting Actor, If I Were King
1966 – Ted Moore (South African born cinematographer) – WON the first South African Oscar for A Man For All Seasons.
1972 – Janet Suzman (University of the Witwatersrand’s Alumni) – Nominated for Best Actress, Nicholas and Alexandra
1986 – Caiphus Semenya (South African composer and musician) – Nominated for Best Music, Original Score, The Color Purple
1988 – Jonas Gwangwa (important figure in South African jazz for over 40 years) – Nominated for Best Music, Original Score, and Best Music, Original Song, Cry Freedom
Watch the Cry Freedom Official Trailer:
1990 (the 62nd Academy Awards Ceremony) – Mapantsula (Zulu, Afrikaans, Sesotho, English), Director Oliver Schmitz – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film. It appeared on the official AMPAS ( Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ) press release in 1989 but not on the 2007 updated list. Therefore Paljas is considered as South Africa’s official first submission in the Best Foreign Language Film category. It is possible that Mapantsula, although submitted,has not been screened for the Foreign Film committee for some reason.
1997 – Paljas (Afrikaans) – Director Katinka Heyns – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film
2003 – Charlize Theron (a Benoni born South African and American actress and film producer ) – WON Best Actress, the first South African actress to ever win an Oscar, for Monster
Charlize Theron’s 2003 Oscar Win acceptance speech:
I’m going to thank everybody in South Africa, my home country… And my mom.
2003 – Ronald Harwood (Cape Town-born playwright) – WON for Best Adapted Screenplay, The Pianist Harwood’s love for the theatre and films started when he was a child and his mother took him to the theatre in Cape Town.
2004 – Yesterday (the first ever feature-length isiZulu film), Director Darrell Roodt – Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film
2005 – Charlize Theron – Nominated for Best Actress, North Country
2005 (78th Academy Awards Ceremony) – Tsotsi – WON Best Foreign Language Film. It was the first non-French-language African film to win in this category
View Tsotsi Official Trailer:
Gavin Hood’s Oscar acceptance speech for Tsotsi, which he directed:
Nkosi sikelele Africa. God bless Africa.
Our stories … are about the human heart and emotion.
2009 – Jerusalema (Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Sotho), Director Ralph Ziman – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film
2010 – White Wedding (Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, English), Director Jann Turner – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film
2010 – District 9, Director Neill Blomkamp (South African–Canadian film director, film producer, screenwriter, and animator) – Nominated for Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay (Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell)
“District 9“, Official Trailer:
2011 – Life, Above All (in Northern Sotho), Director Oliver Schmitz – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film, made the January Shortlist. Life, Above All received 10-minutes standing ovations at its world premiere at the 63rd Cannes International Film Festival.
“Life, Above All“, Official Trailer:
2012 – Beauty (Afrikaans), Director Oliver Hermanus – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film
“Beauty“, Official Trailer:
2013 – Herbert Kretzmer (South African-born English journalist and lyric writer) – Nominated for Best Music, Original Song for Les Misérables, song “Suddenly” (together with Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg)
2013 – Little One (Zulu), Director Darrell Roodt – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film
“Little One”, Official Trailer:
2014 – Four Corners (Afrikaans), Director Ian Gabriel – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film
“Four Corners“, Official Trailer:
2015 – Elelwani (Venda), Director Ntshavheni wa Luruli – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film
2016 – Margaret Sixel (South African-born, Australian film editor ) – WON Best Film Editing, Mad Max: Fury Road
2016– “The Two of Us” (isiZulu) – directed by Ernest Nkosi – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film.
2017 (89th Academy Awards) – “Noem My Skollie (Call Me Thief)“, (Afrikaans) – directed by Daryne Joshua – Submitted for Best Foreign Language Film.
Noem My Skollie producer, Moshidi Motshegwa, said referring the support the cast and crew received at home :
The greatest affirmation an artist can get is from their own tribe. We are ecstatic to have this affirmation!
The Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film was first awarded in 1956. For its 89th edition there have been 85 submissions from all over the world.
“Noem My Skollie” Official Trailer:
Although South Africa hasn’t brought an Oscar home this year what really matters are the passion and dedication of each actor, director, make-up artist, costume designer, editor, of the entire crew backing-up a motion picture which puts South Africa, proudly, on the Academy Awards map once again.
Initially wrote for the Huffington Post SA in 2017 and updated in 2018, published on 13 February 2018.