The song and dance of politics

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Tiri Masawi

Windhoek - Music and politics are the Siamese twins of Southern Africa’s interwoven social fabric.

Political movements are aware of how close song and dance are to the hearts of the people, little wonder then that they spend little fortunes on getting artists to indirectly endorse them by having them perform at rallies and other public events.

In Namibia, one cannot speak of Swapo without mentioning the Ndilimani Cultural Troupe; and the ruling party always takes the opportunity let the nation know that it grooves to the beat of King TeeDee and Gazza, among other top acts.

Away from the high-pressure concerns of the country’s paramount office, President Hage Geingob is known to have smooth feet and he is not shy about publicly showcasing his moves at rallies.

Whether it is a liberation era tune or something more recent, President Geingob has proven time and again that music courses in his veins just as much as politics does.

After all, he did sing in a choir as a young man and played in a band, which is probably why President Geingob is a regular fixture at the Namibia Annual Music Awards.

Down South, there is no separating music and politics.

South Africa’s ruling President Cyril Ramaphosa is known for his love for music.

And of course, there is no separating ex-President Jacob Zuma and “Umshini Wami”, a song that he popularised far beyond the borders of South Africa.

At its rallies, the ruling ANC often gives the stage to the likes of Dr Malanga, Oskidoo and DJ Cleo.

In Zimbabwe, sister liberation movement Zanu-PF is synonymous with names like Chinx Chingaira, Pax Afro and the Mbare Chimurenga choir, among a host of other musicians.

And President Emmerson Mnangagwa created his own minor dance sensation in 2017 and 2018 when he was thrust to the fore of national politics.

A little further up north, former President Kenneth Kaunda has been called the Father of the Zambian Song.

As a teenager he discovered the guitar and he was known to traverse the length and breadth of the country with the instrument slung over his shoulder as he rallied the nation to fight for independence.

Up until today, KK and the song “Tiyende Pamodzi” are inseparable.

Veteran Namibian Afrojazz musician Venaune Kandukira, popularly known as Big Ben, tells The Southern Times Arts that: “Music is a very god way of conveying a message. It is not only politicians who use music to get their message across. Everyone does.

“What is essential to note is that music lasts forever and hence it become a good way of recording history and shaping a society.”

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