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Interview Lucky Ranku

I am from Pretoria originally. I played in the band called Malombo Jazz Makers. I played with AB, Julian Bahula. That was the first band I played with. That was the first band that put me on the map in South Africa. I play guitar. It is indigenous music. Jazz originates from all this indigenous music.
Are you still playing the same indigenous sound?

I am still playing the same indigenous sound. I have been in the West so long it has Westernised a bit. I try hard to express the roots of where I come from.

Do you find you are promoting South Africa?
I have been doing it since we came here in exile. When I came here I met people like Chris Mcgregor so I played with them, Dudu Pukwana, Mongezi Feza, Johnny Dyani, most of them are late.

Was there a big community of exiles?
There was a lot.

How do you find it that some musicians created names for themselves in exile back at home and others didn't get known at home?
Music had changed a lot at home. People like myself and Claude, Mervyn Afrika, but myself particularly I have never been back since I left home. The youngsters don't know us so well anymore. The Manhattan brothers and some of them are still here, still playing. Those were the people that gave us a lot of advice when we came in exile. They are not even known at home and they were so big at home too. Miriam comes from Manhattan Brothers.

Do you miss a South African audience?
I left home many years ago. So much has changed. It is not like the 60's and 70's. You do miss your own people all the time. It is part of life.
Are you missing the South African influence in your sound?

I don't think so because I listened to a lot of South African music. The youngsters are very good. Some of the music I like some I don't like. You can go anywhere but there is no place like home. You can go all over the world and try to survive but you will always miss home. Home will always be home. You can be successful wherever you go. I do miss South African musicians. Sometimes you play with musicians and it is right but it misses that thing that comes from the heart. I miss a lot of South African musicians.

In the 70's when musicians were here shouting out against the inequities of apartheid in South Africa was there a lot of beautiful expression that came out then?
I miss people like Ernest Mothle. You know Ernest? We were together here but he went home.

What was exile like, was there a political agenda?
Exile is not nice. It was Ok when the community was so big. Now it has diminished. There are so very few, some have died, some have gone home. Sometimes I think I wish it was that I just went out of the house and went this way instead of standing here and thinking which way must I go. It is painful. For myself I start missing home a lot since most of the people left.
How does that change the style of your music?

Apartheid has gone and we have to keep on with our music. I wish we would have more South African musicians coming out from South Africa.
Is Europe racist?
It is painful. Wherever you go. I travelled the world so much with the ANC. Here it is. It is underneath.

Do you change this as a musician?
They know Africa is the motherland. You will always find it everywhere, everywhere. Any sickness like this aids thing, they say where does it come from? Africa. Why must it always be Africa. Why can't we say somewhere else? Why can't we say it was from Jupiter? Every bad thing that happens comes from Africa.

How do you change that perception through music. Everyone has a song about the African renaissance?
It is played on stage but we don't hear it too much played on air. On air it is some other things but you will never hear the African bands.

How do you change that?
That is a hard question to answer. All I can do is keep on pushing.

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