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The South African policy of apartheid or separating black Africans from the white minority began in 1948. Laws made discrimination against black South Africans official, including stripping them of citizenship in their own country. They were removed sent to live in bantustans


As resistance grew, music became an important part of anti-apartheid protests and political action.

Police watch an ANC rally while children taunt them by toyi-toying on the other side of the fence. Johannesburg. 1991. (Photo credit Graeme Williams, in his series The Struggle for Democracy – 1989 to 1994)

“They used to clap hands. They’d think we made nice music ... ‘Oh, these blacks can sing so nice!’ and they'd clap their hands and we'd sing: ‘We will shoot you, we will kill you … (laughter) ... be careful what you say. ... You’re going to die, slowly … (laughter)... be careful what you say, what you do.'”


- Sophie Mgcina, South African vocalist and actress, recalling the irony of singing protest songs in African languages in the face of white troops.


From Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony 

Ndodemnyama (Beware, Verwoerd!) - Mariam Makeba
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