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South Africa Holiday: Johnny Clegg

Johnny Clegg is a popular South Africa musician who has recorded and performed with his bands Juluka and Savuka. Sometimes called "The White Zulu", he is an important figure in South African popular music.

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Jonathan (Johnny) Clegg was born June 7, 1953 in Rochdale near Manchester in England.
Already in his youth, Johnny Clegg, a white, English-speaking person with what he called a "secular Jewish" upbringing in Britain, Israel, Zimbabwe and South Africa, became interested in Zulu street music and took part in traditional Zulu dance competitions.
As a young man, in the early stages of his musical career, he combined his music with the study of anthropology, a subject which he also taught for a while at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where he was influenced, among others, by the work of David Webster, a social anthropologist who was assassinated in 1989.
Clegg formed the first inter-racial South African band, Juluka, with gardener and Zulu street musician Sipho Mchunu. Because it was illegal for inter-racial bands to perform in South Africa during apartheid, their first album Universal Man received no air play, but it became a word-of-mouth hit.
The music was both implicitly and explicitly political: not only was the fact of the success of the band (which openly celebrated African culture in a non-racial band) a thorn in the flesh of a political system based on racial separation; the band also produced some explicitly political songs.
The album "Work for all" picked up on South African trade union slogans in the mid-80s. Even more explicit was the Savuka album "Third World Child" in 1987, with songs like "Asimbonanga", which called for the release of Nelson Mandela, and which called out the names of three representative martyrs of the South African liberation struggle: Steve Biko, Victoria Mxenge, and Neil Aggett.

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Juluka were able to tour in Europe, and had two platinum and five gold albums, becoming an international success. Juluka was disbanded in 1986, when Mchunu was asked by his father to return home and herd the family goats, although Mchunu made some solo recordings afterwards. Clegg went on to form his second inter-racial band, Savuka, continuing to blend African music with European, especially Celtic, influences.
Briefly reunited with Mchunu in the mid-90's, Clegg reformed Juluka and toured throughout the world as the opening act for King Sunny Ade, as well as headliner performances.
The name Juluka is based on the Zulu word for "sweat", and Savuka is based on the Zulu word for "we have risen" or "we have awakened".
Clegg and his band often make an international tour during May-August (South African winter). However, the tours are usually limited to France and surrounding countries.
In June 2004, the Johnny Clegg Band toured North America for the first time in over eight years, doing 22 concerts in one month. Even though they had no albums for sale in North America during those eight years, and no significant media coverage, they filled most of their venues.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation Licence. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Johnny Clegg"
Abdulla Ibrahim | Alan Paton | Brend Fassie | Hugh Masekela | Johnny Clegg | Joseph Shabalala | Miriam Makeba | Olive Schreiner | Rudyard Kipling | Yvonne Chaka Chaka
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