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>> 221 6 Sounds of Exile “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” and ANC Ambassadors Who can keep us down as long as we have our music? —Miriam Makeba Carnegie Hall was like a second home for Nina Simone. She performed there on more than ten occasions, each time as a more accomplished and higher profile artist. Yet it was her May 1961 show that marked an early “milestone” in her career and made an indelible mark on her personal life. The event was a benefit for a Harlem church, and despite her misgivings about religion she obliged their request. It was there that she made her first acquaintance with a woman who would become a close friend, confidant, and mentor: Miriam Makeba.1 Hardly a household name at the time, the young Makeba made her first popular appearance in the United States in 1959, the same year that Simone burst onto the blues and jazz scene in New York City. Makeba was mentored and supported early in her international career by artist-activist Harry Belafonte , the man responsible for organizing a number of civil rights benefits during the decade. His influence offered tremendous opportunities for Makeba, who was able to plug into existent Black arts networks with relative ease. It is within this orbit that she met and befriended Simone and began a decades-long friendship that would alter both women’s lives and those of their audiences, and highlight and challenge the perceptions and practices of each woman’s native land. 222 > 223 seventeenth century. The deputized Dutch used their small, yet occupying , presence in South Africa to escalate Britain’s race-specific system of governance. Late-nineteenth-century laws, including the Masters and Servants Acts enacted between 1856 and 1910, which regulated public and domestic spaces through prohibitions on the social and labor practices of unskilled workers, set the foundation for what would soon become the ideology and practice of “apartheid,” an Afrikaner word, literally translated as “apart-hood.” This radical segregationist policy codified and centralized racial difference through legislative maneuverings and violence. The seeds of the institution were already evident and became more draconian as the century progressed. As indigenous communities across Africa struggled against colonial rule, they strategized and moved alongside other African-descended populations. Black Americans were crucial players in both the rhetorical and political maneuvers of Black South Africans. Historians Amanda Kemp and Robert Vinson argue that Black Americans were evoked by Black South Africans in two distinct ways: “[F]irst, black South Africans pointed to black American political, socioeconomic, and religious achievement as proof of African capacities to successfully traverse modern society. Second, black Americans, often coupled with black Caribbeans to form the generic category of ‘American Negroes,’ provided a political template for Africans seeking to improve their status in an increasingly segregationist-minded South Africa.” Marcus Garvey and his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) became central figures in these formulations of solidarity. As chapter 1 argued, Garvey’s Black nationalist designs of race-specific philosophies and institutions modeled the potential he saw elsewhere within diaspora. South African intellectual and activist James Thaele was a Garveyite who met with some success in his attempts to argue for African modernity through his work with the ANC and other leftist organizations, including the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU), which developed after the explosion of industry stemming from the late-nineteenth-century discovery of gold and diamonds. It was his education and experiences of travel that most radically shaped his worldview. After studying at South Africa’s Lovedale Institute—a location described by Thaele as having failed “to teach the Blackman that culture of refinement and the Babylonian civilization of his forefathers”—Thaele went on to study at 224 > 225 taking another cue from Garvey—this time in the cultural realm—the song was institutionalized as the recessional hymn for ANC functions. It was used by the NNC as early as 1912, yet it was under the ANC that the song became an anthem. By the time of adoption for “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” by the ANC, the song had lived a life of local resistance. Nearly fifty years before the juridical adoption of apartheid Enoch Sontonga, a Xhosa clergyman, composed the anthem that, as sociologists Bennetta Jules-Rosette and David Coplan argue, “symbolize[d] more than any other piece of expressive culture the struggle for African unity and liberation in South Africa.”6 A musician and composer, Sontonga used his Christian belief system to order his piece; in...


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