Musicians and poets will descend on Stellenbosch this Friday for #YouAreInChainsToo, a jazz and poetry concert in solidarity with students in light of the recent events on campuses due to student protests and the universities’ armed responses.
The featured musicians include Kyle Shepherd, Jitsvinger and Louis Moholo Moholo. Featured poets include Lesego Rampolokeng, Afurakan and Siphokazi Jonas, and more.
The event is free, but donations are welcome and the proceeds go to distressed students. Curated by Aryan Kaganof, the concert is a collaboration between the Stellenbosch University Staff Student Collective, Africa Open, South African Jazz Cultures, as well as The Archive Project at the University of York.
We spoke to the curator of #YouAreInChainsToo ahead of the event tomorrow.
KG: Tell us about how and why you chose this name for the concert?
AK: On Sunday 9 October 2016 my colleague Dr. Jonathan Eato and I had the extraordinary privilege to film the recording of Brother Nduduzo Makhathini’s first solo piano album which took place in the Fismer Hall of Stellenbosch University. The playing was impeccable, all of it, and I am certain that the album, when released, will be regarded as a classic in the South African jazz piano genre. One track in particular stood out for me, it had a gravitas, a weight, that reminded me of Mahalia Jackson, of Nina Simone, of chain gang recordings, of Mary Lou Williams, of a seam of music that sears as much as it heals. The music spoke to me of the black condition in South Africa and the perversity of having more than 800 students arrested, many without bail been granted, for exercising the rights that their parents had fought for. When I asked Brother Nduduzo what the composition was called he said “You’re In Chains Too”.
KG: Why did you decide to have the concert and what are some of the outcomes you are looking forward to?
AK: The FeesMustFall movement seems to have reached an impasse, a deadlock with University managements across the country and I noticed that media fatigue has set in. The problem with the spectacular violence that has hallmarked the state’s inept and draconian response to the legitimate grievances of a generation is that the ante is upped and very soon media outlets and the public at large lose interest in the deep underlying issues and only take notice, fleetingly, if somebody is shot or a building burned down. This is of course a dead end. It struck me that the healing power of music was necessary to muster support for our children and show them that we care about them and their future. FeesMustFall is a just and noble cause that seeks to bring an end to racialised inequality. Think about that for a moment. If you really are against FeesMustFall then you are actually saying that you agree with racialized inequality.
KG: Please tell us a little about the lineup and the decision to pair jazz and poetry.
AK: Deeply inspired by the relationship that Ntate Lefifi Tladi’s Black Consciousness group Dashiki had with the students of the 1976 uprising it struck me that an entire generation of jazz musicians and poets were not only sympathetic to the FeesMustFall philosophical movement but were indeed of it, that it was the most important new critical discourse capable of breaking through the retarded and redundant Rainboist obscurantism that had kept many South Africans on pause for nearly two decades. Entirely self-indulgently I reached out to the people that I consider the absolute cream of contemporary SA jazz and poetry. Tellingly, not a single person that I approached said no. The lineup is worth flying over from another continent for, and that is exactly what Dr. Jonathan Eato is doing on Thursday night, flying from Heathrow London in order to arrive in Stellenbosch in time to set up his recording gear and preserve this historic occasion for posterity.
You’re In Chains Too Solidarity Concert: Kruiskert, Stellenbosch, Friday 18 November 7pm, Admission Free!