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Ladysmith Black Mambazo – Shaka Zulu (1987)

July 8, 2020

Learning to be anti-racist

“I never lose. I either win or I learn.”
– Nelson Mandela

For years, I have been mistakenly under the impression that ‘racist’ and ‘not racist’ were opposites. I’ve since realized that ‘anti-racism’ is actually the opposite or ‘racism’ & I need to do a better job of being actively anti-racist.

As a starting point, I want to commit to doing two small things every week:

  1. Listen & Learn. Share resources that I’ve found helpful.
  2. Amplify Black Voices. Each Wednesday, feature a Black Artist from the 1001 list.


So far, I’ve looked at Curtis Mayfield’s There’s No Place Like America Today, The Crusaders’ Street Life, Cypress Hill’s Cypress Hill, Cee-Lo Green’s Cee-Lo Green…Is the Soul Machine, and Maxwell’s Maxwell’s Urban Hang Suite.

This week, the 1987 album by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Shaka Zulu.


[Album 784/1001]

I learned a new word this week:


It’s a genre of music that originated in South Africa and is performed a cappella (with voices only, no musical instruments).Shaka_Zulu

There’s an emphasis on harmonizing and the performers also dance while singing.

And I imagine audiences would be dancing right along with the performers.

The vocal performances here are terrific & although the studio recording is nice, it feels like this would be something else to experience in person.

Even though I don’t understand all of the messages (some of the lyrics are in English, some are in Zulu), due to the power & beauty of the vocal arrangements, I still walk away from each listening session feeling optimistic / hopeful.

So I suppose in this case, I both learned (about a new-to-me genre) and won (by finding a really enjoyable / well-performed album)!


Helpful Resources

As shown in the clip below (and also in this article), Nelson Mandela called Ladysmith Black Mambazo “South Africa’s Cultural Ambassadors.”

In the video, one of the group’s members shares their mission, “We’re trying to encourage the generation after us to know who they are. Because you must know your heritage. You must know your culture.”

Music to educate, inspire & unify?

Sounds good to me.


From → 1980s

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