Jazz Against Apartheid: BEYOND EXILE 2023

Built around the timeless musical compositions of Johnny Dyani: 30.11.45 – 24.10.86: JAA BEYOND HOMECOMING is extending the 35 years of consistent musical performances of the star-studded international ensemble to a collaboration with a sestet of dynamic rising stars of Eastern Cape Jazz, packed with talent and curiosity.

The musical collaboration and confrontation between the highly experienced JAA apartheid veterans from Germany, London and Canada together with Eastern Cape stars, as young as 24 years old, offers tremendous surprise and excitement for what may come forth.

Johnny was the bandleader of the Jazz Against Apartheid band. His original vision was to create a platform where ‘home’ musicians interact with ‘exile’ musicians.

Jazz Against Apartheid in Germany enabled him to grow his oeuvre and take to different audiences. Johnny was outspoken in his condemnation of apartheid. He was a member of the ANC. Magdalena recalled, “He wanted to bring together jazz musicians still living in South Africa with those in exile. He liked to work with people who understood his music, his fight. He remained open and incorporated American and European musicians. This tour was the beginning of something he always postponed.”

“It was the time of the Cold War between the West and the Soviet Union which dominated the standing of the Anti-Apartheid struggle. The Southern African liberation movements, including the ANC, were anchored in Russia and the east European countries. The Anti-Apartheid movement was quiet diversified in its focus, activities and philosophies. The exiles in West Berlin and West Germany developed and worked with committees from the Christian church, student groups, political formations, the trade unions, the social movements, progressive arts platforms and media platforms to highlight the issues happening in Apartheid South Africa. Germany played an important part in isolating, boycotting and contributing to bring the apartheid regime down.

“Undoubtedly, the arts in general were the mainstay and visible aspects of the political work that involved cultural and economic boycotts, pickets and demonstrations, conferences and meetings. As a cultural activist, this was my main arena to help bring down the Apartheid python,” explained Macingwane.

At the first Jazz Against Apartheid concert in October 1986 at Quartier Latin Concert Hall Johnny Mbizo Dyani chanted "Think think think, it is good for you!" and collapsed on stage. He was rushed to hospital. He remained in a coma for a week and eventually died from heart failure and internal bleeding.

Jazz Against Apartheid had begun to play a significant role in the dismantling of Apartheid as together with other South African cultural contributions including music, paintings, photography, drama and dance performance, writing; the South African culture as a whole united and profiled the liberation movement whilst connecting to the progressive cultural activism of the Germans during this period. “Johnny’s passing away was apocalyptic similar to a volcanic eruption to the music and his followers at the world and at home. It was as though the dreaded impundulu bird of darkness hovered and lingered above a crimson sky. His healing music aimed to stimulate reflection, meditation and creative healing approaches to the complex of human existence. Diminutive as he had been in physical stature he remains a giant in music and interpretation. Significant players that were his contemporaries like Dollar Brand produced songs in his memory. Dedications by younger musicians inside SA, includes Sipho Gumede “A Song for Johnny Dyani.” Pianist Andile Yenana “Wish you Sunshine.” Also, the painter Mothlebane Moshiangwako “the efforts of those that came before us” and the amazing rap poet Lesego Rampolokeng produced amazing works to celebrate their prophet that had come like a comet and had vanished again leaving a star path of sprouting seeds and gems,” wrote Macingwane in the tribute.

After his death, The Jazz Against Apartheid series in Frankfurt and platform was to remain central in spreading his message. Thanks to Jürgen Leinhos and his team of activists.

In 2007 The Blue Notes received the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver, for excellent achievement in the genre of jazz music, contributing to the development of music in the South African townships and defying apartheid laws by forming a multiracial group.

In 2021 Jürgen Leinhos received the "Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in Silver" Award for his work in Jazz Against Apartheid

Jazz Against Apartheid Buffalo City Homecoming - Steve Biko Centre - December 18th 2022

The Buffalo City Homecoming is the return of Jazz Against Apartheid and the legacy of musical prodigy Johnny Dyani to his roots in the Eastern Cape. It is a profound cross-fertilization and is developed on a foundation of 60 years of exile history and 36 years of friendships formed in the struggle. On the 18th of December the Jazz Against Apartheid Band of esteemed musicians from the Eastern Cape, Europe and Canada performed 13 of Dyani’s world-renowned compositions, including one of his most famous tunes, “Song for Biko” at the Steve Biko Centre on the date of what would have been Steve Biko's 76th Birthday.

Another Story of South African Jazz