iPhupho L’ka Biko – dreaming, like Biko, of decolonised culture July 29, 2018 By Gwen Ansell
June 16 1976 had multiple impacts on South African society. It’s often cited as marking the start of the “youth rebellion” that changed the country’s political landscape – although that minimises the long history of multi-generational resistance that preceded it. (Children had worked in white-owned households, mines, businesses, estates and farms, and formed part of anti-colonial struggles at those sites ever since the colonialists arrived.)
But new kinds of youth formations did emerge from ’76, and those in turn gave rise to new cultural expressions: songs, slogans, gestural language and dances. Those creative expressions travelled into exile, into the camps of young MK soldiers and into cultural collectives in Botswana, Zambia, London, more; into trade union cultural locals as school students became adult workers – and into performance spaces and rallies as artists re-visioned and developed the spirit of ‘76 with fresh creativity throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s.
The flowers from those roots were furiously diverse: the disciplined stage performances of the Amandla Cultural Ensemble; the take-no-prisoners compositions and playing of Dudu Pukwana and Louis Moholo-Moholo in exile; the mzabalazo of the Fosatu Workers’ Choir; Menyatso Mathole and Sakhile at Club Pelican (and that band’s Isililo a bit later); and the joyous defiance of the Malopoets ………..