All the bands in the movie express, debate or confront Africanness, but for the younger ones, the struggle with the question of who and what Africa is in these latter days seem to be a more conscious one, which they give form to in their music and lyrics. Who’s African now? Is white African? Is Afrikaans African?
Zimbabwean punk-metal band Evicted (below), with their thick, furry punk-metal urgency woven with African harmonies and high, dancing traditional guitar interludes answers the question sonically: this is something brand new, but with deep roots. Something African.
“This is our country, this is our home,” says Evicted’s Nick Newberry. “We love it here, love the people here.”
In the same way we all share the same basic makeup both physically and mentally – arms, legs, heads, psyches, souls – but our experience gives us individuality, punk is a common substrate but the specific efforts we make to drive our message through it gives us musical individuality. You see that process play out in living color in this movie.
“We Were Partying While the War Was Happening”
Mozambique shared many of the same concerns, musically, that South Africa had. But the pressure cooker of the capital, Maputo, created a highly centralized scene. There, Mozambicans of all backgrounds found an outlet for the fact that the simplest things – going to the beach – were impossible due to the civil war.
The strange discord of freedom – Mozambican radio was never censored, for instance – and violence (from a decades-long war between civil factions in the country) expressed itself musically by turning up ska higher in the mix.
“Ska is the African side of punk,” says Paulo Chibango of the multiracial band 340ml. “I don’t want to say it’s a happy music because thematically it isn’t always happy, but once you’re there and enjoying (yourself), that element is kind of happy.”
Zimbabwe struggled with its own civil unrests, yoked to the overwhelming influence of its president, Robert Mugabe, a hero-turned-villain who indulged in repeated massacres, large and small, against his own people in the wake of independence.
Here, too, with bands like The Rudimentals (above), led by Zimbabwean singer Teboho Maidza, the ska element tuned punk up, insisting on a kind of transcendence despite the politics rather than through it.
“The guys I was working with in Zimbabwe believed in the ruling party,” says Maidza. “We used to play music to…make people aware of what was happening in the country and suddenly, we were working with a politician? We’re not going to run a propaganda machine, because politicians change like chameleons!”
Evicted’s singer Derek Bailey says the reality of political repression, with music caught in the middle and having to respond to it, is not an historical situation in his country. There were rumors that security police had shown up at their gigs. “We’ve had to change our lyrics a couple of times so we don’t step on anyone’s toes… If they want to get rid of you, they will.”
Party On, Punkers
Punk at its best has never been a “cool” movement and “Punk in Africa” is militantly uncool, in that it accurately reflects the passion, anger, frustration, love and pure energy of the musicians it covers. It’s a music of ferocious joy and the movie is the retinal afterimage and echo of that joy. First, it moved us. It was a battle to keep the tears out of our eyes long enough to keep watching a lot of the time, a battle we didn’t always win. Second, it’s punk as f*ck.
See the original story here - OkayPlayer Africa