Isicathamiya is a genre of South African a capella music sung by male choirs. It was first sung in Zulu and later also in English. The choral speaking is often done in call and response.



In the ‘20s and ‘30s of the last century, a wave of industrialization led to rapid growth in the urban population of South Africa. The music of this time was the Marabi, a concept attributed to a certain music genre, but also standing for an entire era of South African urban culture.



The Marabi subculture stood in stark contrast to the values of the so-called oppressed elite of South Africa, the African middle-level population with mostly missionary educational background. They criticized the Marabi and the jazz imported at the same time from America for their proximity to crime and for their non-Christian values.



At Concert and Dance evenings, a vaudeville group appeared until midnight and was then replaced by a jazz ensemble, which played until 4 o’clock in the morning. The performing artists were often members of both the vaudeville group and the band, and bands often accompanied the vaudeville show at certain moments before their official appearance.



The sound of urban South Africa is often referred to as Township Jazz. It changed its basic form in the 1950s and early 1960s, however, and evolved into Mbaqanga. This genre was created from Kwela, Marabi, and African and American Jazz.


Freedom Songs

Today, “Music against Apartheid” refers to the innumerable freedom songs that, as carriers of messages of resistance to the authoritarian regime of South Africa, acted for local musicians as an important means of communication in relation to mobilization and uprising against Apartheid.


Cultural Boycott

Social Movements to oppose the apartheid regime began in the 1950s. The aims of these anti-apartheid movements were to educate people about the situation in South Africa, to bring out of the shadows the cooperation of European states with the apartheid regime, and consequently to isolate the regime economically and culturally.



In 1985, the American folk-rock musician Paul Simon aroused international attention when he rehearsed and recorded in Soweto with South African musicians, including Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The resulting album, Graceland, was released on September 1, 1986.


Hip Hop

Hip Hop has had a presence in South Africa since the mid-1980s. Hip Hop music was played in the clubs, kids danced and dressed along the lines of US American Hip Hop movies, and graffiti began to appear on the walls of Cape Town.



Kwaito is a contradictory genre. To this day, the stigma of an exclusive orientation towards parties and material values and a lack of political awareness clings to the music and its listeners. And yet music is always political.


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