Universal Men in Narrow-Minded Times. Postcolonial Identity and Anti-Apartheid Politics in the Music of Jonny Clegg

Schönmann, Florian. Universal Men in Narrow-Minded Times. Postcolonial Identity and Anti-Apartheid Politics in the Music of Jonny Clegg. 2011, Master Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

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This thesis paper explores and discusses the political impact of South African musician Johnny Clegg during the period of Apartheid. Johnny Clegg was one of the few artists who managed to actively defy the Apartheid regime through his cultural practice. He merged African musical traditions and languages with Western instruments and arrangements, creating a unique brand of pop-rock music and consistently performed with racially integrated groups. Cleggʼs music as well as his lyrics and performance articulated an identity that was at the same time non-racial and multi-racial, thus negating Apartheidʼs core idea of segregation. In the 1970s and 1980s, during the height and the eventual violent crash of the Apartheid system in South Africa, Clegg became the countryʼs most successful recording and performing artist and also became a world-music star abroad, particularly in France, where he was nicknamed «le zoulou blanc». In addition to his musical career, Clegg also did groundbreaking work in Social Anthropology in the study of the Zulu language, music and culture. Cleggʼs music and performance were obviously politically charged. In the early stages of his career, harassment by the police and censors was commonplace. Furthermore, some who were engaged in the struggle against Apartheid saw Cleggʼs embracing of Zulu culture and him performing in the Bantustans as indirectly supporting the governmentʼs scheme of dividing the African population. Maintaining his political integrity and continuing his cross-cultural practice based on principles of integration during the times of Apartheid, Johnny Clegg is an exceptional figure in the history of both South African popular music and the cultural struggle against the countryʼs racist regime. Using interviews, in-depth analyses of Cleggʼs lyrics and album artworks, and by closely examining Cleggʼs biography and career, which took him from the workersʼ hostels of Johannesburg to the big stages around the world, this thesis sheds light on an artistʼs contribution to the struggle for democracy in 20th century South Africa.
Advisors:Harries, Patrick
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Geschichte > Ehemalige Einheiten Geschichte > Geschichte Afrikas (Harries)
UniBasel Contributors:Harries, Patrick
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Master Thesis
Thesis status:Complete
Last Modified:05 Apr 2018 17:39
Deposited On:06 Feb 2018 11:28

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