'Amuzed' - 20/02/98
While watching the South African soccer team playing a critical match in the African Nations tournament in Burkina Faso the other night, I had a lightbulb-over-my-head experience. It was a game that our team had to win to stay in the tournament and, being the defending champions as well as world cup finalists, losing would have meant disaster, national rancour and a downswing in the highly sensitive South African mass mood. To add spice to the scenario, the SA team had fired its previous coach and had not won a game in their last nine outings so the stage was set for something special. It came in the form of a young Cape player called Benedict "Benni" McCarthy who has been threatening to repeat the form for the national team that he has been regularly displaying at his Dutch club Ajax of Amsterdam. Within the first 20 minutes, McCarthy had scored four exceptional goals and inspired the SA team to a comfortable 4-1 victory and a performance that vibrated with confidence, flair, rhythm and fun.
I thought back to the heady Beatles-inspired days of the late-Sixties when a young, handsome football genius with a mop-top appeared in the middle of the Manchester United team and turned football into a thing of breathtaking beauty. George Best alone was responsible for the slogan that soon appeared in all the media of the time: "Football is the new rock & roll." Here I sat, watching this young footballer with the ginger-dyed hair and the cool earring playing football with a rock-steady beat. Around him his team mates seemed to respond to his rhythm and as we watched, a new South African team seemed to emerge from the dowdy shell that had been encasing and restricting them. I began to notice the funky haircuts, the swaggering confidence, the total cool of players like "Pollen" Ndlanya, Lucas Radebe and David Nyathi and it became happily obvious to me that, once again: "Soccer is the new kwaito"
Now for anyone who has been waiting to inspect Iraqi chemical plants or stuck on the ("oy vey is") Mir Space station, kwaito is the hot new South African urban dance music that has emerged from the "bashes" which are the township rave scenes. As with rap and hip hop, it is music that borrows, steals and re-works a multitude of (mainly) South African musical influences to create a refreshing and dynamic new genre. Artists like TKZee, Bongo Maffin, M'Du, Arthur, Trompies and many more are pouring out a stream of high-energy and funky albums that are starting to attract a lot of interest from DJs world-wide who are looking for somwthing new and have always kept an ear open to the innovative music that seems to flow non-stop from the South African musicians and studios. In June the South African soccer team will be appearing on the global stage at the World Cup finals in France and, like the samba-inspired footballers from Brazil, the "Bafana Bafana", as the SA team are affectionately known, are going to be bringing both their silky skills as well as the rhythm and flair of kwaito to the eyes and ears of the world.
I am hoping that the contingent of SA supporters at the games in France all take their beat-boxes and portable music centres with them to the games and inspire the Bafanas with a loud stream of kwaito music.
South Africa's soccer and music time has come and it will be lasting a lot longer than 15 minutes.
I received an email from a reader in Massachusetts who told me that he was watching a recent "Stop Smoking" campaign TV commercial and it featured two ladies playing backgammon and discussing quitting smoking. The background music, for some immediately unapparent reason, was the song 'Jive Soweto' by the SA artist Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse. The two questions are firstly: what is the relevance of this song to the subject matter of this commercial; and secondly: how did someone in Massachusetts recognise this song and artist in the first place?
You see! SA music is spreading like a healthy virus and world domination is nigh…..
Speaking of kwaito, Tokollo, the "T" from TKZee, has had his earlier solo album 'Gusheshe' re-released to tap into the incredible interest in this band and their current album 'Palafala'. The word is that these two albums could just be the catalysts which will provide kwaito with its long awaited crossover success. Tkzee, who are now South Africa's top selling kwaito band, will be performing outside One World Music, at Sammy Marks Square in Pretoria on 21 February at 9.30 am.
The story around Johannesburg is that the U2 gang popped into Dodge City to check out the site of their March concert and spent their time partying in a well-known Melville club (206?) before climbing Northcliff Hill (Table Mountain's lesser known Gauteng cousin) for a sunset and some "sundowners".
The upcoming Rodriguez tour dates have been announced and gobsmacked fans are pouring into Computicket outlets mouthing the now boring mantra: "But I thought he was dead!" Well, he most certainly isn't so grab some seats now for his six-date March tour. (Cape Town 6th and 7th, Johannesburg 9th and 10th and Durban 13th and 14th). You can also find all the info you need on Rodriguez at his two websites The Great Rodriguez Website and Climb Up On My Music.
This week we savage the recent Van Der Want/Letcher CD release 'e.p.tombi' and then act all friendly to the 'My Generation 2' SA rock compilation in our One World, the specialist SA CD online store. You can also get some insight into the hazy minds of The Original Evergreen in our Lager Mentality feature. (Please note that no "lager' was used in the production of this interview; only natural and green fibres were utilised.) Flick through to our Film site for reviews and news from the, er, flicks. Keep sending those homegrown reviews on any concert, film, gig, book, strip-show, rave, bash, video or even television programme that may have recently inspired you for our soon to be appearing The Show Must Go Online page. The worthy Gig Guide will tell you about all the live music in this rather large and buzzing Cape area and our Sports pages give you a quick and sometimes alternative look at the big SA sports stories, like the one about the two touring Pakistan cricketers who may or may not have been hanging out at a sex club in Dunkeld before the first test and chaffed everyone that it was some Sandton muggers and not the club's bouncers who beat them up. Pakistan, at close of play, were 2 for R60.
Bafana Bafana rule OK(waito)!
Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman
Some cool sounds currently staving off this heatwave:
Paul Simon - Graceland :
The official revival of this classic starts here now that the cultural boy(in the bubble)cot is a distant memory.
Richie Havens - Best of :
Old gravel voice croons his eclectic and folky mix of greatest hits
My Bloody Valentine - Loveless :
There's been nothing from these noise-mongers since this 1991 masterpiece so it will still have to suffice.
Sugardrive - Sand. Man. Sky :
What do you mean you still haven't got hold of this ??
Meaty, beaty, big and bouncy, kwaito is kool!
by stephen 'Sugar' Segerman
The Great Rodriguez Website
Your online CD store
Lager Mentality - Interviews, Features and previous Beatspeak and News articles