I want to share with you one of the untold stories of the Believe Campaign. It’s a story of personal struggle but also immense faith in tomorrow, told through musicians and their melodies that have come to represent the soundtrack of this campaign.
Music has always been a vehicle of hope. One of my favourite songs is Khawuleza by Miriam Makeba, a song about a police raid and how children warn a mother to “quickly” run away. Music and struggle were synonymous in those times when so many songs were about freedom and hope.
When we started this journey we said it needed to be about hope, about the possibility for change that we can make Gauteng great.
This campaign was not going to be about hate, it was going to be about love for the people and for the Gauteng we know we can build together. For this purpose we chose the simple campaign slogan of Believe, #BelieveGP to those on twitter.
What we learnt was that when you start from a foundation that is fundamentally positive, you unlock creative energies that envelop your cause to make it more than it was in the first place.
Words can only take a message so far, but those who understand the art of music have helped us to take that message even further. I am so grateful to the many artists who dedicated their time and passionate energy to support this campaign. Today I want to pay tribute to them.
The 8000 people who witnessed our Believe in Change rally also witnessed the wealth of creative spirit backing this campaign.
Prior to my keynote speech, we were captured by the isiXhosa maskandi sounds of Siyabonga Bashe, also known as Ntombo’Xhosa.
IsiXhosa maskandi may seem like a rarity to some but, like this campaign, Ntombo’Xhosa represents the uniqueness that is achieved through diversity. His goal is to use this artform as a powerful tool to celebrate African culture.
Even after his first album, Tyityimba Zavolo, was nominated for a SAMA award and sold tens of thousands of copies, he still gives free shows to the people back home.
His new album 1819 is about the Egazini battle between Xhosa and British, and tells stories of African heroes and the pride with which they fought that battle. Songs like these make me proud of my Xhosa heritage.
Then there was Bongani Nkwanyana, who performed Love Song off his 2013 album Yashinkani. Bongani won the Shell Road to Fame in 1988 – that show we all watched with stars in our eyes as kids growing up in the township.
He’s since won four SAMA awards and has worked with top producers like Jabu Khanyile, Hugh Masekela, Bheki Khoza, Duma Ndlovu, Mthandeni Mvelase and Dumisani Dlamini. But he’s never forgotten about the grassroots, founding popular bands such as Bambata, Nu World, Abafana Abalungile, The Scorers and recently Shosholoza.
At the launch we were also privileged to have Gauteng based groups who have kept a consistent presence at our rallies: Kwaito Officers and DJ Juice.
They are responsible for creating and performing great supporters anthems like Vouta ya ka and A New Dawn.
And of course there was one very special artist who performed at our rally, and would later go on to compose our beautiful campaign anthem Believe in Change.
For those of you who missed the televised performance on Morning Live last week, you can listen to Believe in Change here.
Khanyisa Majola Bhuti grew up in Zwelitsha township near King William’s Town and later graduated with a Musical Theatre qualification from the Tshwane University of Technology.
Majola was invited to perform at our rally after one of our campaign staffers heard him being profiled on the radio late one night.
Convinced that Majola was already an established artist with best-selling albums on the shelves, we were surprised to learn that Majola’s debut album is yet to be released. Destined to be a hit, the album will be in stores early next year, titled Boet Sissy.
At the rally Majola performed a beautiful ballad called Khaya Lam, about a young person who comes to Gauteng to fight for their dreams, all the while using their memory of home “as a safe haven and also a weapon”.
While I was born here, in Dobsonville Soweto, I can relate to the sentiment of a young person growing up in a township dreaming things my parents never thought imaginable under the evil and unjust Apartheid system.
The excellent Bongani Madondo writes of Majola: “I am pretty stoked to be hearing and bearing witness to something new, something transformative … an as yet to be movement … a new cultural shift and space which a current generation of new blacks/Afrikans are creating”.
Madondo calls this emerging culture by the interesting name of New Black Sonic Freedoms.
Inspired by the message delivered at our rally, Majola spent weeks in studio producing Believe in Change, the final version of which includes a choir and string orchestra.
The song captures what this campaign is about perfectly.
The first verse opens with the lyrics:
“Gauteng, the heart of gold, field of dreams, you have stood the test of time, a symbol of hope for many believers, legends are made here in this place, militant leaders and agents of change, determined to conquer adversity, and make it a home for all believers.”
This campaign is about electing a government in Gauteng capable of delivering opportunities for all the people of this great province to live a better life. This place must live up to the dreams of those who live here. But to make history we have to believe, as the refrain of the chorus tells us:
“Gauteng believe in change, Gauteng believe in hope, if you just believe, there’ll be change.”
The second verse speaks of 1994 and that glorious moment when our “votes elected new leaders, who struggled for a new dawn”.
The verse transitions into the period of present injustices of corruption and how we the people have been forgotten: “though power defeats present leaders … like a right that’s turned into a wrong”.
The song ends with extracts of the speech I delivered at the Believe in Change rally:
“Some don’t agree with the political choices we are making. But our leaders have betrayed the struggle of our people. Everyone who marks their ballot paper in 2014 can choose change, if they just believe. Never, ever again will we allow South Africa to go backwards. Our destiny is in our hands.”
To all those who have written, sang and performed in support of change, thank you from the bottom of my heart. There is much to do and more songs to be sung.
Ours is to find songs that inspire hope in tomorrow. Let freedom songs reign.
I hope the festive season has brought you joy, and a very happy new year to all of you. In 2014 may the songs we sing become the stuff of reality. DM
Watermelons were originally cultivated in Africa.