A 'Counter-Monument' to the Liberation Struggle: The Deployment of Struggle Songs in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Author: 
Langa, Retha
Place: 
Oxon
Publisher: 
Taylor & Francis Group
Date published: 
2023
Journal Title: 
South African Historical Journal
Source: 
South African Historical Journal, Vol. 70, Issue 1, March 2018, pp. 215-233
Abstract: 

Struggle songs have continued to pulsate in South Africa after the advent of democracy in 1994. This article explores how ideas about the history of the liberation struggle are mobilised through the performance of such songs and given meaning in the present. Two case studies are presented: then ANC Youth League President Julius Malema's utilisation of the 'Dubula ibhunu' song in 2010 and the subsequent court battle with AfriForum, and the performance of 'Inde le ndlela' by President Jacob Zuma. The two leaders deployed these songs - which travelled through Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) camps during the liberation struggle - to convey important political messages to their followers and to produce specific favourable identities and genealogies for themselves. The article draws on James Young's work to argue that song operates as a dynamic 'counter-monument' to the liberation struggle, providing its singers with an authentic connection to the past. It also examines how notions about history and heritage and different forms of commemoration are mobilised in the debates about how struggle songs should be memorialised in post-apartheid South Africa.

Region focus: 
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CITATION: Langa, Retha. A 'Counter-Monument' to the Liberation Struggle: The Deployment of Struggle Songs in Post-Apartheid South Africa . Oxon : Taylor & Francis Group , 2023. South African Historical Journal, Vol. 70, Issue 1, March 2018, pp. 215-233 - Available at: http://library.africa-union.org/counter-monument-liberation-struggle-deployment-struggle-songs-post-apartheid-south-africa

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