I couldn’t decide who to pick. Abdullah Ibrahim and Dollar brand, the subtle shuffling jazz of the Cape and District Six, or Johnny Clegg and Savuka, the “white Zulu” as they used to call him?
This was the stuff I grew up with, the sound of Sunday mornings and long road trips. Music-defined memories, of more than just my personal experiences, but the history that I remember when I hear it. It means something to me.
And yet… a few years ago, Abdullah Ibrahim played in Osaka, and I turned down the chance to see him. And a few years before that, I was buying croissants at Fournos Bakery in Jo’burg, and there sitting at a table was a man wearing wraparound sunglasses. He had that doughy look that people get when they’ve spent their whole life being young and vital and suddenly it’s not there anymore. It took me a long time to realise that it was Johnny Clegg. I didn’t ask for his autograph or anything, because famous musicians are just as entitled to enjoy their baked good in peace as anyone else. But it made me think that sometimes things live on in a very different way to what you thought when you first encountered it. The music, the memories – they’re gone now, shadows of themselves. No use turning the past into a zombie, right?
Anyway. It’s still nice sometimes to remember things. Hope you’ve had a super Sunday.