Acoustic South African Poetry

Germany – South African musician and poet
Sam
Tshabalala
has a new album entitled Meadowlands (Tropical
Music
68.848). The songs on Meadowlands are sung in various local
languages such as Zulu, Shangaan, Tswana and English. Sam sings about his
family, tragic accidents, forced removals and AIDS. Despite the tragic subjects
of the songs, the music carries an easy and happy mood. Sam sings about the
tragic killing of his nephew in the ghetto, “Soneni”, accompanied by a thriving
rhythm and a vivid guitar that expresses more strength and happiness than
sadness. This combination of rhythmic and powerful music with tragic lyrics has
a long tradition in South Africa, as it helped the people to support the
problems and sufferings of Apartheid and the hard life in the ghettos.The song “Meadowlands” tells the painful story of the forced and brutal removals
in the 1960s of the non-white population from their lands into the arid and
dusty outskirts of Johannesburg. “Meadowlands” symbolizes the loss of the home
ground and the transfer into foreign zones, as it happened also to Sam
Tshabalala personally.

Even in Paris, he remains a stranger among strangers, although it is his home
since almost twenty years. Paris is rather the home of the Africans coming from
the former French colonies such as Cameroon, Senegal and the Ivory Coast. As a
South-African he would be maybe more at home in the South African community of
former exiles in London. But although he is very far away from his home country,
his heart still beats there.

Sam Tshabalala shows the great variety of South African culture in the eleven
songs, which derive partly from local traditions. Different languages can be
found in the lyrics of the new album Meadowlands, such as Sam’s mother
tongue Shangaan, Tswana, his language at school, and of course Zulu.

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