Nelson Mandela and the Spirit of South Africa

Mandela: "Father of the Nation"

Nelson  Mandela (18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was South Africa's first black chief executive, and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation.

Mandela served 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island, and later in Pollsmoor Prison and Victor Verster Prison. An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990 amid escalating civil strife. Mandela joined negotiations with Nationalist President F. W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994, in which he led the ANC to victory and became South Africa's first black president.

He gained international acclaim for his activism, having received more than 250 honours, including the 1993Nobel Peace Prize, the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Soviet Order of Lenin. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata ("Father"); he is often described as the "Father of the Nation".

The Power of Sports

While football was plagued by racism, it also played a role in protesting apartheid and its policies. With the international bans from FIFA and other major sporting events, South Africa would be in the spotlight internationally. In a 1977 survey, white South Africans ranked the lack of international sport as one of the three most damaging consequences of apartheid.[80] By the mid-1950s, Black South Africans would also use media to challenge the "racialisation" of sports in South Africa; anti-apartheid forces had begun to pinpoint sport as the "weakness" of white national morale. Black journalists for the Johannesburg Drum magazine were the first to give the issue public exposure, with an intrepid special issue in 1955 that asked, "Why shouldn't our blacks be allowed in the SA team?"[80] As time progressed, international standing with South Africa would continue to be strained. In the 1980s, as the oppressive system was slowly collapsing the ANC and National Party started negotiations on the end of apartheid. Football associations also discussed the formation of a single, non-racial controlling body. This unity process accelerated in the late 1980s and led to the creation, in December 1991, of an incorporated South African Football Association. On 3 July 1992, FIFA finally welcomed South Africa back into international football.

Sport has long been an important part of life in South Africa, and the boycotting of games by international teams had a profound effect on the white population, perhaps more so than the trade embargoes did. After the re-acceptance of South Africa's sports teams by the international community, sport played a major unifying role between the country's races. Mandela's open support of the previously white-dominated rugby fraternity when South Africa hosted and won the 1995 Rugby World Cup went a long way to repairing broken race relations.

Nelson Mandela speaking at the 1st Laureus World Sports Awards 2000 in Monaco

A show of traditional Zulu war dances in Gold Reef City.

In 2009, the Ndlovu Youth Choir was established. The choristers, who all hail from the very rural Limpopo community of Elandsdoorn, are all involved in the Ndlovu Children's Program and a few of the children even live in Child Headed Households.

Ndlovu Youth Choir, under the direction of Ralf Schmitt, performs at Ndlovu Miracle Theatre (its home venue) in the rural township of Elandsdoring, South Africa, for an audience including University of Pretoria Youth Choir and Canada's Kokopelli. For information on Ndlovu Care Group, visit

Gum Boots South African - Dance - Singers 15-11-99 Filmed at The Derngate Northampton.This dance group were on tour from South Africa for the first time. Camera Gary Mabee

In Gold Reef City the zulu dancers showed us a mine dance with helmets, boots and kaching kaching!

"Satchmo" and the Spirit of Jazz

He was born poor, died rich, and never hurt anyone along the way.
— Duke Ellington

Louis Armstrong (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971), nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, was an American jazz trumpeter, singer, and an influential figure in jazz music.

Coming to prominence in the 1920s as an "inventive" trumpet and cornet player, Armstrong was a foundational influence in jazz, shifting the focus of the music from collective improvisation to solo performance. With his instantly recognizable gravelly voice, Armstrong was also an influential singer, demonstrating great dexterity as an improviser, bending the lyrics and melody of a song for expressive purposes. He was also skilled at scat singing (vocalizing using sounds and syllables instead of actual lyrics).

What is Jazz?

It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.
— Irving Mills & Duke Ellington

Jazz was born in the United States and is really the best music to represent America because:

It is partly planned and partly spontaneous; that is, as the musicians perform a pre-determined tune, they have the opportunity to create their own interpretations within that tune in response to the other musicians' performances and whatever else may occur "in the moment" -- this is called improvisation and is the defining element of jazz.
In everything from regular conversation, to basketball, to everyday life, Americans are constantly improvising.

Improvisation is the key element of jazz.

There is no better example of democracy than a jazz ensemble: individual freedom but with responsibility to the group. In other words, individual musicians have the freedom to express themselves on their instrument as long as they maintain their responsibility to the other musicians by adhering to the overall framework and structure of the tune. 

Where Did It Come From?

Jazz was born in New Orleans about 100 years ago (early 20th century), but its roots can be found in the musical traditions of both Africa and Europe. In fact, some people say that jazz is a union of African and European music.

  1. From African music, jazz got its:
    1. rhythm and "feel"
    2. "blues" quality
    3. tradition of playing an instrument in your own expressive way, making it an "extension" of your own human voice
  2. From European music, jazz got its:
    1. harmony -- that is, the chords that accompany the tunes (the chords played on the piano); jazz harmony is similar to classical music's harmony
    2. instruments -- most of the instruments used in jazz originated in Europe (saxophone, trumpet, piano, etc.)
  3. Musical improvisation came from both traditions.

Who's Music City?

Who's Music City?

Through all the sorrow of the Sorrow Songs there breathes a hope—a faith in the ultimate justice of things. The minor cadences of despair change often to triumph and calm confidence. Sometimes it is faith in life, sometimes a faith in death, sometimes assurance of boundless justice in some fair world beyond. But whichever it is, the meaning is always clear: that sometime, somewhere, men will judge men by their souls and not by their skins.

~W.E.B. Dubois