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Johnny Clegg & Juluka perform
Kwela Man

(One-minute sample)

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Johnny Clegg and Juluka
The racial and political oppression of apartheid clamped a heavy yoke on South Africa's musicians. Segregation's absurdities shackled the entertainment industry where on the stage or on the air, performers of one race were restricted from playing for another. "Imagine the uproar among the authorities when the interracial duo of Sipho Mchunu and Jonny Clegg came along."

Performing together, evading apartheid's enforcers, Sipho and Jonny sang Zulu songs for blacks an whites alike while accompanying themselves on acoustic guitars and various Zulu instruments. In the mid '70s the guitars became electric, and the traditional sounds mixed with the rickytick beat of baganga(township jive and Western pop. By the end of the decade the duo had grown into a full-fledged band called Juluka.

Related Dispatch
Zulu Man
Kwela Man? No, but Zulu Man
and his culture lives on.
Relive it here!

In the '50s, a street music called Kwela developed. It usually consisted of a steel-stringed guitar, a simple string box bass and two or three penny whistles. Groups of ragamuffin Kwela musicians would travel from the townships to the city centers and play on the street corners. Most of these musicians were young teenagers and even some in their pre-teens. Kwela music soon became a national South African genre and the music industry quickly cashed in on the Kwela revolution. The music died out in the late '60s as a new form of amplified township music called Mbaqanga took over.

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This information and world music sample are compliments of Putumayo World Music. Putumayo’s mission is to introduce people to other cultures through music, and towards this end they have released dozens of CDs and cassettes featuring some of the best music from around the world.

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