More African musical memories

Yesterday I embedded a couple of music videos by Juluka from their 1983 album ‘Work For All‘.  They expressed the violence and bitterness of the years of interracial and inter-tribal warfare I experienced in South Africa.

Hearing them again brought back lots of memories.  I’ve been on a bit of a Juluka binge since then, listening to old favorites, associating faces with the music (many of them, sadly, no longer with us), and generally remembering things I often wish I didn’t have in my mind.  Anyway, I thought it might interest you if I put up a few of my favorite Juluka melodies.

This one isn’t a ‘cosy’ favorite – it brings back very bad memories – but it’s important for that reason.  It’s also from the ‘Work For All’ album, and it’s titled ‘Gunship Ghetto’.  The lyrics may be found here, and are worth reading in order to fully understand the sense of the times that produced this song.

Here’s one from their first breakout album, ‘Universal Men‘, released in 1979.  It’s called ‘Deliwe’, and sings of a man about to leave his ancestral lands.  In a very real sense, it’s the soil of Africa talking to one of her children, asking him not to go.  The song still speaks very strongly to me, because I’ll “always be a child of Africa” myself, whether I like it or not.  Africa is like malaria.  Once it’s in your blood, you can never really leave it behind.  (Lyrics are here.)

From their album ‘African Litany‘, released in 1981, here’s ‘Heart of the Dancer’.  Think of this as Johnny Clegg, speaking as a white man growing more and more familiar with the Zulu people, expressing his wonder at the power that traditional dance exerts in African tribal culture.  He’s almost talking to African dance as if it were a real, thinking person, trying to engage in a dialog with it.  (He was, of course, by this time fluent in Zulu and immersed in that tribe’s culture – he’s been referred to as ‘the white Zulu’ for many years.)  It’s a very meditative, powerful song.  (Lyrics here.)

Finally, from their 1983 album ‘Scatterlings‘, here’s ‘Spirit is the Journey’.  It’s another very meditative song in its own way, but much more powerful – pulsing, driving, demanding in its tone, declaring rather than wondering.  Powerful stuff to those with ears to hear.  (Lyrics here.)

Even if you don’t have the memories to go with the songs, I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to them.  I recommend all four of the albums linked above.



  1. Peter, I really enjoy these songs and reminiscences, thank you. I hope you didn't mind my filking yesterday – I wanted to express my appreciation.

  2. @ R: Yes, I am. I enjoyed Rodriguez' music in South Africa in the 1970's and 1980's. He was hugely popular there: his 'Cold Fact' was one of the albums one encountered in almost everyone's music collection. I was delighted to learn that he was still alive, and at his renewed success before and after the documentary was released.

  3. I have only been separated from the land of my birth during the period of my military service; 30 months in southern Germany.
    I can't begin to imagine what it's like to sit by the rivers of Babylon and weep, except for that experience.
    I pray that the sweet soil and cleansing rain of your adopted land bring you peace, and rest from your wandering.

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