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"Bob Marley said
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look
Little did he know that eventually
The enemy will stand aside and look
While we slash and kill our own brothers
Knowing that already they are the victims of the situation"
Lucky Dube, Victims
Lucky Dube is a reggae artist from South Africa singing in a fight against oppression in his country. Like Jamaica, South Africa has been oppressed since the days of the European colonizers. The only difference is some Africans lost their land and others were stolen from their land. In this paper, the reactions of Africans (Jamaicans included) to oppression will be surveyed through politics, religion, and music. This will be done through a comparison of these ideas between South Africa and Jamaica. Both these countries have been subjected to nearly 400 years of oppression of Europeans over Africans.
The oppression of the indigenous people of South Africa began with the colonization by the Dutch through the Dutch East India Company. The cape of South Africa proved to be a perfect resting spot for ships on their course from Holland or India. (Lapping, p. 1-2) Conflict was inevitable and finally after 7 years of settlement the indigenous Khoikhoi attacked the colony. The Khoikhioi could not match the firearms of the Dutch. (Lapping, p. 3) Van Riebeek, who proceeded over the colony had now gained superiority over the indigenous people, imported slaves, and settled the freeburghers. The freeburghers were settled on large farms, which required strong laborers. This is where the slaves came in handy since the colony did not like the Khoikhoi labor. As the freeburghers and the slaves married, a population called the Cape coloreds arose. No more Dutch were sent since this was to be a refreshing post. In 1688, after an outbreak of religious persecution in France, some two hundred French Hugeuenots arrived. (Lapping, p. 3-5)
As the colony grew, the farmers (Boers) began to move forward inland. The conflicts between them and the indigenous people increased. By 1702, fights began breaking out with another indigenous culture, the Xhosa. The white mans claim to the land, ‘We were here first.’ This is however not true because the Portuguese had traded with the Xhosa before the Dutch arrived. These were not the only inhabitants of the interior, there were as the Sotho, which are now present day Botswanans and the Zulu.
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By the end of the French Revolution, the Dutch could no long protect her colonies and the British purchased the cape from the Dutch. (Lapping, p. 9) The British introduced the pass law in order to help the farmers. This law required the Khoikhoi, now known as the Hottentot, to have a fixed place of abode and that if he wished to move he had to obtain a pass from his master or from a local official. Anyone not holding a pass was to be done away with, as the person who found felt necessary. This was the first of the pass laws, which stayed well into the 20th century. (Lapping, p. 12) The British also quickly expelled the Xhosa and set up military posts to prevent their return. (Lapping, p. 10) The British began to oppressed those of color and forced them to work for the Afrikaners or for them
By 1866, the cape had seen a collapse in British and Afrikaner relations due to the coming of the missionaries, strict court laws, the British merchants spoke the right language and had the connections to seize most of the new opportunities in trade, and the abolishment of slavery in 1833. (Lapping, p. 12) The result was a mass migration of Afrikaners, called the Great Trek. (Lapping, p. 13) They became the trekboers and moved into the frontier and took over more African lands occupied by the Xhosa and the Zulu. The British had interfered again to create a colony boundary against the Xhosa and tried to conquer the settlements of the Trekboers. The Afrikaners were tired of the British telling them what to do so they set up their own constitution and a council of representatives. However, the first legislative council in the Cape Colony was established in 1836. The right to vote included non-whites and poor Afrikaners. However, the power did not pass to the majority in the cape, the blacks. The right to vote during this time came to exclude tribal Africans because the government feared that large numbers of blacks were registering. (Lapping, p. 18-20) The movement of the Afrikaners into the Orange Free State and the Transversaal left the rule in South Africa thoroughly disordered. (Lapping, p. 20)
Gold was discovered in 1866 in the north of the Cape Colony and soon after diamonds. There was a shortage of black labor and a shortage of food due to the influx of foreigners. Thus black men went to work in the mines. The conditions required the workers live in enclosed compounds and carry passes (if found without one, a person was subjected be thrown out of town). The formation of mines caused another situation, the lose of native lands. There were African kingdoms surrounding the Trekboers settlements. The need for labor attracted natives to work in the mines to save money for guns. The Zulu were at the for-front of this. The British attached in order to keep order in the mining area, to maintain a supply of labor, to stop the spread of guns to Africans, to calm the panic in Natal, to prevent a widespread war between the blacks and whites. The British also had an extra motive that the Zulu were behind all the black unrest throughout southern African. They hoped this would persuade the Trekboers to join the British-dominated federation. The Zulu however defeated the British and become a Crown colony. As a result, the black states were in fragments. The lands became native reserves, but the British had control over them especially to recruit labor for the mines. (Lapping 20-26)
The discovery of riches caused an influx of rich foreigners and with that came new problems. The major result was the Boer War. This war was between the British and the Afrikaners who controlled the Transversaal (Natal) and the Orange Free State. It was encouraged by the Gold mining companies because the Afrikaners would not support their need to keep the large compounds of black workers in order. However with the start of the war the mines shut down and the British re-annexed the Transversaal and Orange Free State. With shut down of the mines black workers could flee. Concentration Camps were set up for the Afrikaner women and children. Blacks did end up in the camps and fought on both sides. This war resulted in resentment and rage of the Afrikaners for both the blacks and the English-speaking South Africans for the next 60 years. (Lapping 30-37)
By the end of the nineteenth century most of the black clans and states of Southern Africa had been defeated in war. The rest had agreed with Britain for protection, which left them subject to four governments, two British, two Afrikaner since the union of South African in 1910. No cohesive force existed to create African political unity either. However, with the arrival of Gandhi, the African National Congress was formed along the same lines as the one he had set up in India. The African nationalism came more from the Christians than Gandhi did. This was done by the formation of African Independent Churches. (Lapping, p. 48-53)
In the beginning of the 20th century, South Africa united the British and Afrikaner ruled colonies under on central government. Those who paid the price were the blacks. The British had extended some votes to the blacks but the Afrikaners reserved voting for only the whites. The New Union government of South Africa, a product of the Boer War and Jan Smuts arguing for self-government, set about extending policies into a nationwide system of segregation. Its first step was The Native Lands Act and this the first challenge faced by the ANC. (Lapping, p. 53) At the same time as the formation of the ANC, the Afrikaners were forming their own political party, the National Party. The party was headed by J.B.M. Hertzog. (Lapping, p. 38)
Smuts and Boatha, who were given office in 1910 when the British and Afrikaners formed the union, headed the New Union government. (Lapping, p. 53) Hertzog and Smuts battled over the political power until 1934, when the two groups formed the United Party. Hertzog felt that the fusion would secure the long-term co-operation of the Afrikaners and the British-the ‘two races’. (Lapping, p. 62) Malan, a man in Hertzog’s cabinet, disagreed and formed his own party, the Purified National Party. The battle over political power was now between the Smuts-Hertzog and Malan. (Lapping, p. 64)
Finally in 1948, Malan’s party won the election. At the time of the election both Smuts and Malan felt the same concerning racial matters. They felt both supported a policy of racial segregation and saw no way it could be changed. The real issue at the time was for the Afrikaners to triumph over the British. Since the British did want a non-racial constitution before the Union, Malan felt that this what separated the British from the non-English-speaking Afrikaners. (Lapping, p. 87-88) His party’s victory, and its retention of power ever since, brought about the introduction of apartheid, not just as the government’s overriding policy but as the means of saving Western civilization from destruction by black hordes.(Lapping, in the introduction)
Jamaica’s oppression began in a similar manner. In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed at Discovery Bay (then named Dry Harbor). After initial hostilities, he managed to gain the confidence of the native inhabitants, the Arawaks. This was not surprising since they thought the Spanish were immortal gods. The Spanish were only interested in gold so they did not arouse any suspicion among the Indians. By 1510, a group of Spaniards, lead by Governor Juan de Esquivel, founded a settlement near St. Ann’s Bay. Their attempts at gold acquisition proved unworthy. The only gold they obtained was from the Indians, who had traded for it from neighboring islands. Jamaica was really only used as a base for refitting and taking on provisions. However, in the course of these events, the Arawaks were killed off by diseases from the Spanish, because of corporal punishment, and through massacres by the Spanish colonists who forced them to work as serfs. By the time the English took over in 1655, there was no Indians left. The Spanish had also brought slaves with them who were sent free right before the English gained control (Bayer, p 6-10).
In the 17th century, rising European powers challenged the Spanish hegemony in the Caribbean. The British were the most successful at seizing Jamaica, especially since they had North America and other Caribbean islands. The British began bringing slaves from West Africa since they dominated the slave market. These slaves were to do heavy work on the sugar plantations. The slave and sugar trade brought the planters in Jamaica and the English slavers enormous wealth. This ordeal was very appalling for the slaves. Many did not survive the journey and a large number were severely weakened when they reached Kingston. The work was extremely hard and the regime on most of the plantations was merciless. The slaves were kept down by corporal punishment. Death or amputation was not uncommon either. (Bayer, p 10-12)
The runaway slaves from the Spanish occupation and those that took refuge from British occupation formed the Maroons. The Maroons rebelled in 1690 in the Parish of Claredon, near the Cockpit Country. Cudjoe, their leader was an escaped slave. This war lasted until 1739, when the British commanding officer, Colonel Guthrie succeeded in persuading Cudjoe to make peace. In exchange for their freedom, own land, and to have their own jurisdiction, they had to desist form attacking the plantations and the colonists, and were not allowed to take in any further escaped slaves. (Bayer, p 12)
For quite some time there was peace in Jamaica, until 1760, when the great slave rebellion of St. Mary broke out. It ended with a peace treaty with the assistance of the maroons. In 1795, two Maroons from Trelawny were publicly whipped which sparked the second Maroon War. It only lasted five months. Those Maroons in rebellion were shipped to Nova Scotia and Sierre Leone. (Bayer, p. 13-14)
Slavery officially ended in 1834 but slaves worked for forty hours a week without pay for another four years. The reason was that in England many felt that it was unchristian in nature. The other reason is that Haiti, in 1804 was proclaimed the world’s first independent black republic. This inspired many slaves to take up arms and a wave of uprising swept across the Caribbean such as the Sam Sharpe Rebellion. Sam Sharpe was a Baptist preacher who became the leader of what was the last great slave rebellion on the island in 1831. He was hanged as a result and the other rebels were severely punished. He said that he would rather die than live life as a slave. The sugar industry went down hill without the slaves’ cheap labor. In spite of attempts to provide the plantation with new resources of labor. The ex-slaves and contract laborers began a free, but marginalised, peasantry. This began the island’s hard-pressed smallholder framing. (Bayer, p. 14-16)
The political situation was just as bad as the sugar problem. The plantation owners, who were weakened considerable from the Sugar Equalization Act of 1864, clung grimly to power. The power in Jamaica was in the hands of a British governor and a council appointed by him in consultation with an executive council consisting of the leading white planters. During this time there was a diverse population which included 300,000 black inhabitants, who were excluded form politics as they had no vote and were given such poor lands. Mulattos (children of planters and slaves), for a long time had been excluded, but in 1830 were given voting rights. Some chose the British side and others the ex-slaves such as George William Gordon. These political problems led to the Morant Bay Rebellion in 1860. (Bayer, p. 16-18)
The Morant Bay Rebellion had far reaching consequences. The most prominent is that the island became a Crown Colony, which meant that the island would come under direct rule of the British Crown. (Bayer, p. 17-18) The abolishment of slavery in 1834 left Jamaica in a state of chaos. It was necessary for both the good will of the planters and the willingness of the slaves for an apprenticeship system to displace slave labor with wage-earning economy. The planters however had deep-rooted hatred for the Imperial Government for their losses. Their tensions were also mounting against the churches, especially of the Baptists and Methodists, who supported the welfare of the slaves. The prominent figures of the rebellion were two ministers of the Native Baptist Church of Jamaica, G. William Gordon and Paul Bogle. (Barrett, p. 51-52) Gordon set out to attack status quo and to make clear the burden his country was suffering.(Barrett, p. 56) The rebellion brought fear for the planters that they had finally submitted to the end of their privileges and the tyranny was overthrown.(Barrett, p. 63)
As a crown colony, the real power of decision making now rested with the governor advised by a cabinet, which controlled the legislative council. The elected officials were mostly white but the new government had built in guidelines, which anticipated the time when black majority would gain power. With the rise of Marcus Garvey, the black population began to show some political consciousness. Citizens’ associations formed in Kingston. The black community had through the emergence of Marcus Garvey and later the Rastafarians had begun their political fight throughout this time and still continues today. (Barrett, p. 64-65)
The turning point in Jamaican political developments came in 1938. A rebellion resulted because of labor unrest in a sugar factory. The result of this was the emergence of Norman W. Manely and Sir Alexander Bustamante. These men set in motion the present day political parties, the JLP and the PNP. (Barrett, p. 65) Under Bustamante’s leadership, the JLP developed into a party with a liberal and capitalist ideology. Manley and his PNP leant more towards socialism though deeply rooted by nationalist and Christian thinking. In 1955, the PNP took over and Jamaica was on its way to independence. This required the formation of the West Indies Federation in 1958. (Bayer, p. 20-21) Jamaica finally became an independent nation of the British Commonwealth in 1962. (Barrett, p. 63)
The two parties from the very start fought each other for political power and after independence they grew even further apart. In 1972, Norman Manley’s son took over control of the government. Violence, including hundreds of deaths in street fights and gang attacks, has surrounded many elections because of the two party’s differences. This resulted with Manley’s establishment of the gun court. The differences have continued up to the current date. Jamaica has primarily been a two party system with both parties in and out of power. (Bayer, p. 26-28)
The outcome of religious ideas in both Jamaica and South Africa are a product of both missionaries in the late 1800’s and the rise of Black Nationalism. The Rastafarians, with their belief in "Ethiopanism", have similar ideas to that of the African Independent Churches seen in South Africa. Both religious ideas are a product of colonialism and the oppression, which comes from it. The African Independent Churches and the Rastafarian movement are very closely linked and will be the focus of a religious comparison.
The Ethiopian vision which originally sprung from outside of Africa but inspired the whole of that massive movement of the African spirit, which has become know as the African Independent Churches. (Hexham, p. 262) The words by Marcus Garvey put this spirit into words:
At this moment methinks I see Ethiopia stretching forth her hands unto God and methinks I see the angel of God taking up the standard of the Red the Black and the Green and saying: Men of the Negro race, men of Ethiopia follow me...cease not in well doing until you have planted the banner of Red, Black, and Green on the hilltops of Africa. (Hexham, p. 262)
Ethiopanism described the secessionist church movement in South Africa seceding
from white control, beginning with Reverend Mokoni. (Chevannes, p. 33)
The African Independent Churches are sects of Christianity with the native African religious. These Churches represented the early religious phase of African nationalist response to the colonization process. (Villa-Vicencio, p. 33) This independent-church movement was called "Ethiopianism" because the secessionists’ aim was to plant their church across the entire African continent. (Chirenje, p. 1) They used this term in the biblical sense to acknowledge that Africa was the land of black people. In the bible, Africa and the Africans are usually referred to as "Ethiopians." Psalm 68, for example, contains the declaration that "Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God." In time, Ethiopianism became a generic term to describe a whole range of black man’s efforts to improve his religious, educational, and political status in society. (Chirenje, p. 2)
The first Ethiopian church, a Wesleyan offshoot, called ‘The Ethiopian Church’ was established in 1892. A minister called Mangena Mokoni set up his Ethiopian Church because he believed that Africans were not being given equal rights with Europeans within the Methodist organization. (Hinchliff, p. 90) Mokoni knew these biblical notions of Ethiopianism when he seceded. (Chirenje, p. 2) Mokoni had established his church under Garvey’s slogan: "Africa for Africans." Marcus Garvey’s black conscious movement inspired South Africans to rise up against white control including religious leaders like Mokoni. (Graybill, p. 12)
The adoption of the term Ethiopian was significant in two ways. According to white supremacist interpretation, Cush, the son of Ham, was an outcast and the precursor to all black Africans. The separatists, by identifying themselves as the descendants of Cush, asserted a claim to an independent route into the Bible, free from white tutelage. To them Ethiopia was the land of Cush and a microcosm of Africa as a whole. (Degrunchy, p. 120) Ethiopia became a symbolic point of reference, whether as ideal home- hence denoting repatriation or as a source of identity. (Chevannes, p. 34) Ethiopianism gave them an uniting force to which all blacks could stand up against the Whites.
The Kushite movement (not to be confused with the Zionist group the Cushites), which is designated Ethiopian, is another example of a sect of the African Independent Churches. (Hexham, p. 262) The founder was a Sowetan businessman, Kushadam K. Makume. (Hexham, p. 264) In the Old Testament, he found that the was a God who introduced himself as the "God of the Father." To an Israelite this meant the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but to an African this meant Kush and Ham and Noah. Kush, the son of Ham, is every African’s connection with the true God, God of Noah, the Creator-God. (Hexham, p. 266) The Kushites would be the people of God, living by the Law of God, which was stated in the Old Testament for the redemption of Africa and the World. (Hexham, p. 267) In the past, it has been customary to refer to Kush (Cush) as Ethiopia, in both the Ethiopian churches as well as with the Rastafarians. (Hexham, p. 273)
. The Rastafarian Movement is a religious expression of a people who have experienced a bitter history of exploitation and oppression. Its emergence comes as a reaction not only to the native religions, which the Rastas see as unreal in the presence of formidable sociopolitical forces, but also against the missionary religions, which they view as the religious arm of colonial oppression. (Barrett, p. 28) Ethiopianism in Jamaica owes it origins to the "Ethiopian" references in the bible, which had a liboratory promise and which when contrasted with the indignities of plantation bondage, showed the black men in a dignified and humane light. (Chevannes, p. 34) The Rastafarians follow the Old Testament as the Law of God. (Barrett, p. 111) The Rastafarians view Ethiopia as Zion and therefore the movement has been regarded as an extant example of Ethiopianism. (Chevannes, p. 33) Through Marcus Garvey, Ethiopianism became a full-fledged doctrinal for the Rastafarian movement. Ethiopianism became a "black religious reaction to pro-slavery propaganda". Garvey used the ideas of Ethiopianism to support the rise of Black Nationalism. It was in Garvey that the spirit of Ethiopianism came into full blossom for Jamaicans. (Barrett, p. 77) He wrote:
We, as Negroes, have found a new ideal. Whilst our God had no color, yet it is human to see everything through one’s own spectacles, and since the white people have seen their God through white spectacles, we have only now started out to see our God through our own spectacles. The God of Isaac and the God of Jacob let him exist for the race that believe in the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. We Negroes believe in the God of Ethiopia, the everlasting God-God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, the one God of all ages. That is the God in whom we believe, but we shall worship him through the spectacles of Ethiopia. (Barrett, p. 77)
From this statement, the Rastafarians have drawn their origins. (Barrett, p. 77) The God of Ethiopia that Garvey is referring to is the God of Africa. The term Ethiopia does not refer to a geographic contact but a symbol of all of Africa. (Barrett, p. 79) This is Similar to the African Independent Church’s ideas that Ethiopianism is a microcosm for Africa as a whole.
The basis of Marcus Garvey’s ideas on Ethiopianism came from its ancient thought. According to the Ancient thought, Ham is the leader of the Black race and "Cushite" refers to the people of Black Africa. (Barrett, p. ) Therefore if the Rastafarians believe they are Africans, they to are the Sons of Ham. The Rastafarians do believe that they are Africans. Brown says,
We are the people in Jamaica who are definitely opposed to any form of integration or assimilation with the white oppressor, or any non-African races and ourselves. We are those who do not accept the name Jamaican, knowing we are Africans in exile. Our view is therefore to return to Africa at any cost. We are also proud to be called Africans or Ethiopians, knowing creation woes to the black man its paternity. (Barrett, p. 117)
This also fits the context because Ethiopia refers to Africa as a whole including its peoples where ever they may be even Jamaica.
It seems that oppression gave the black people of both countries of feeling of inferiority even in religion. The ideals of the Rastafarians and The African Independent Churches formed as a result of white control. Garvey speaks of whites seeing God through their eyes and projected this notion onto the Jamaicans. This also happened in South Africa. From this comparison, under oppression the Africans and Jamaicans needed a religious notion that explained where they came from and gave their nationalist movement a strong background.
These religious movements have been intertwined in the political situation existing in these countries. It is clear that the AIC, not actively involved in politics, do have a definite stance towards the South African political active. They also played a role in the formation of the ANC. (Hexham, p. 333) The Rastafarians, also, moved into the Jamaican political scene using their religious ideas to actively join the political struggle and create a political movement with the aim of taking power and implement measures for the uplift of the poor and oppressed. (Barrett, p. 149)
Politically speaking, both of these countries faced a hard fight in the middle of the 1900’s. South Africa was seeing the harsh realities of the Apartheid and blacks in Jamaica were fighting the whites of Jamaica and the involvement of the differences of the JLP and the PNP. The black political struggle of Marcus Garvey and then the Rastafarians shows very similar aspects to that black political struggle of the leaders of the African National Congress. This will be the focus for the political comparison of South Africa with Jamaica.
Africans reacted to the political situation by forming the African National Congress. African leaders borrowed from various secular ideologies what was compatible with their faith and personal predisposition and what made sense in the context of the prevailing conditions in South Africa. (Graybill, p. 9) Their political program was based on the recognition that pure conscience seldom defeats an unjust system. They discovered that the inability for humans to transcend their own interests significantly to consider the rights of others in contrast with their own makes force inevitable. (Graybill, p. 11) ANC leaders tended to see the South African conflict as a class struggle and a special kind of colonialism. (Graybill, p. 12) The ANC and other African political leaders used these ideas to challenge the White powers in South Africa.
The black Conscious Movement had a large influence on the ANC as well as did Marcus Garvey. (Graybill, p. 9) James Thaele, a follower of Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, had brought Garveyism to South Africa. He joined the Western Cape Congress of the ANC and pushed it in a Garveyist direction. The Cape ANC’s organ was named The African World to identify it with Garvey’s Negro World, and it published Garvey’s treatise on "African fundamentalism" as a guideline of the principles of government that would be theirs. (Graybill, p. 12) The ANC was forced to face the truth that only commensurate power could counter power to wrench changes, PanAfricanisn and The Black Conscious Movement instigated status campaigns aimed at increasing black confidence and bargaining power in order to eventually confront whites on an equal footing.(Graybill, p.11) Reggae as served and serves as a political tool in South Africa. Lucky Dube does not involve himself in Rastafarian musings but concentrates on the political injustice so the world will know the problems his country has faced.
From the beginning the ANC movement had a nonviolent base, for its leaders combined a religious faith that truth shall overcome with a pragmatic recognition of the difference between White and Black power. (Hope, p. 38) Many leaders of the ANC viewed their political activity as the expression of their religious faith. (Graybill, p. 29; Hope, p. 42) The early commitment to nonviolence was formed in part by the liberal creed of nonviolence advocated by Gandhi. (Graybill, p. 10) Religion played a vital force in the resistance to white supremacy. The ANC activities over the years included non-European unity and equal rights for all citizens of South Africa. (Hope, p. 38; Graybill, p. 12)
The Rastafarians see Jamaica as a land of oppression and their only avenue for escape is by supernatural means or by seizing the power and creating a utopia for the oppressed. (Barrett, p. 3) They are apolitical and do not vote; however, every politician sees them as an important group in their political agenda. (Barrett, p. 220) The political movement of the Rastafarains is more resistance than active involvement.
The Rastafarians entered politics with the running of Ras Sam Brown in 1961. It was Sam Brown who captured Garvey’s idea of "One God, One Aim, One Destiny" into his political slogans. (Barrett, p. 152) According to the Foundation of the Rastafarian Movement, the Rastafarians has decided to actively join the political struggle and create a political movement with the aim of taking power and implement measures for the uplift of the poor and oppressed. (Barrett, p. 149) The Manley government as well helped the Rastafarians reveal themselves to Jamaican society.
The Rastafarians have also formed the Rastafarian Movement Association. They realize that the struggle for freedom and liberation cannot be the work of the Rastafarian Brethren alone. Their involvement is to help unit the blacks in Jamaica to aid in the struggle for freedom. (Barrett, p. 178) The Rastafarians also practice ‘Nyabingi’ meetings in which typical topics discussed are problems concerning government activities that affect the group. (Barrett, p. 120) Reggae has been an important vehicle for the fight against the injustice of the blacks in Jamaica. They inform the population of their feelings against the government through reggae. This is their non-violent demonstration against Babylon.
The are obvious connection to the political movements in both of these countries. Listening to Burning Spear, they speak of Marcus Garvey and Nelson Mandela (leader of South Africa and part of the ANC) as great fighters in the human rights movement. The movements have been the products of the need to fight political injustice. The ANC and the Rastafarians see the need to unite and stand in their ideals of Black Nationalism in order to fight White oppression. The other political power is the use of reggae for both countries. People all over the world have an idea of the injustice in both countries due to the voices of artists like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, Lucky Dube, and many others.
Jamaica and South Africa share a common bond musically. This common bond is reggae. South Africa has very few reggae artists, namely Lucky Dube. According to the Boston Globe in 1989, Reggae music is hot in South Africa and Dube is its musical and spiritual leader. The idea of reggae for Lucky Dube is that it is an impressive political tool. He has been able to speak his mind about the problems of South Africa through his music. Like his Jamaican counterparts, Dube has used reggae to get his message across the world. He has traveled all over the world with his message.
At his school, Lucky Dube as a library assistant became acquainted with the Rastafarian religion discovering it in an encyclopedia. He also read about the music synonymous with Rastafarianism- Reggae. Bob Marley and Peter Tosh were the first reggae artists, which Lucky Dube heard as a young child. It was not very popular with the government and hearing the music was a bit difficult. The government did not want the people to hear the music because of the message, which the government felt, was a threat. The message was stand up and fight for your rights and the whole idea of making people aware of injustice and the government did not want people to be aware of such ideas. If they found you with a reggae tape they would confiscate the tape, kick the hell out of you, or even take you to jail for a year. People did not want to take this risk. Lucky began working as young boy to save up money to buy Peter Tosh albums even though they were scarce at the time.
Lucky Dube had a hard life growing up in South Africa. His father left before he was born. He began his music career performing "mbaganga", which is Zulu soul music. Lucky changed to reggae once he had an audience and a record company. He wanted to switch prior to 1984 after having been exposed to Tosh, Marley, and Bunny Wailer and converting to the Rastafarian religion in 1972. There was resistance at first because people only wanted to hear reggae from Jamaica but with persistence Lucky found an audience in South Africa and internationally.
The influence of Marley and Tosh are evident in his songs. He uses lyrics of Bob Marley and even does cover songs such as "Jah Live" He sings a song called "Dracula" which has a similar connotation to Peter Tosh’s "Vampire". According to the Boston Globe in 1989, Lucky Dube has a rootsy, Peter Tosh-influenced reggae. His style is much like Peter Tosh and Bob Marley as using reggae for the resistance of oppression.
Both Tosh and Marley express their ideas of political injustice in their music. Take Bob Marley’s song "Trench Town", which shows how the government keeps the people in trench town in chains because they see them as underprivileged. Marley speaks of government oppression of a group of people because of the idea they represent. Peter Tosh’s "Fight Apartheid," expresses his ideas the its an ancient, traditional black-white struggle. Apartheid is the shitstem. Apartheid is all over the fucking world. He feels its I and I duty to let it be known that its dirty and stinks and obnoxious and its time for change. It is evident why Peter Tosh and Bob Marley appealed to Lucky Dube’s love for music as a political tool.
Lucky Dube’s musical style is grounded in the essence of reggae’s original spirit. From the beginning his lyrics have brought an original voice to reggae by chronicling the political and spiritual struggles of his South African Brethren. He feels that this music has a power because music in not similar to politicians. Music is always there. Politicians come in every four years, lie to the people, get what they want at the time, and disappear, but music is there every time. It can change the world. People think of him as a politician because he speaks of unity. He say’s he reads the Bible a lot and It doesn’t tell us if God was black, white or whatever. "We are all God’s children. I don’t see any reason we should be separated. That’s the way I live my life. I want to see blacks and whites together."
Lucky Dube is fighting for equal rights. In 1991, teamed up with Joe Higgs, who cached Marley, Tosh and Bunny Wailer, both sang about the end of racism, whether it is South Africa’s segregationist apartheid system or any psychic or mental chains that constrain freedom. Lucky Dube political message of equal rights can be found in his song, "Well Fed Slave/Hungry Free Man":
Look in the eyes of the homeless man
Tell me what you see
In the eyes of a jobless man
Tell me what you see
What about the eyes of the prisoner
What do you see
Now you’ve seen it all
It is time to make up your own mind
Don’t Try and hide it
‘Cause I can see it all
In your face, yeah
It is the same questions
That I as myself every time
To be or not to be
Do you wanna be a well fed slave
Or a hungry free man
Do you wanna be a well fed slave
Or a hungry free man
What is the point in being free
When you can’t get no job
What is the point in being free
When you cant get food
What is the point in goin’ out to work
When others can get for free
What is the point in bein’ free
When you don’t have no home
Now you’ve heard it all
It is time to make up
Your own mind
To be or not to be
Repeat chorus 3x
Reggae music has become a force in both Jamaica and South Africa in response to political injustice and oppression of the black man. Its no surprise that reggae is very popular in South Africa. Here is a nation suffering from severe injustice and the government obviously sees this or they would not ban reggae artists like they have been. Reggae has been the common reaction of Blacks for both these countries
The effects of colonialism still flourish in the countries of South Africa and Jamaica even 400 hundred years later. The major effect is oppression of the black race, which can be seen through the music, the religions, and the politics. This paper made a comparison of those parts of society for the two countries and showed that oppression can have similar effects on black people who suffer from white control.
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