The Robben Island Singers | Stories from South Africa's Freedom Struggle

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World: African Folk: Political Moods: Type: Live Recordings
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Stories from South Africa's Freedom Struggle

by The Robben Island Singers

To free their country from Apartheid, three ordinary teenagers took up arms and joined the MK. They met as political prisoners on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was also serving a life sentence. Listen to their stories of struggle and life in prison.
Genre: World: African
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
clip
1. "Singoban’ Thina” (Who are We?)
0:58 $0.99
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2. "Sizothabatha Umthwalo" (We Will Take Our Belongings)
1:17 $0.99
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3. My Name is... Muntu, Thembinkosi, Grant
5:16 $0.99
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4. "Sikhalela Izwe lakithi”- (We Are Crying for Our Country That Was Taken by the Colonizers)
1:40 $0.99
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5. Thembinkosi – Mzulu, Mxhosa & Msotho Unite Against the Common Enemy
1:00 $0.99
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6. Thembinkosi - The Buttocks of the Unemployed (Are as Hard as Concrete)
1:16 $0.99
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7. "Izinqa ZikaMahlalela" (The Buttocks of the Unemployed Are as Hard as Concrete)
1:07 $0.99
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8. Thembinkosi – Big Guns for Muntu
0:27 $0.99
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9. "Sizobadubula Ngombayimbayi" (We Are Going to Fight by Using Big Cannons)
2:19 $0.99
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10. Grant - Devoted to Comrades Who Died in Action
0:47 $0.99
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11. "Sihole we Mqabuko” (Lead Us Joshua Nkomo Into Zimbabwe)
0:59 $0.99
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12. Thembinkosi - Let the War Begin!
0:51 $0.99
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13. "Silindel’ Impendulo” (We Are Waiting for an Answer)
1:33 $0.99
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14. Thembinkosi – A Dedication to Bab_ uMdlalose, a Wise Old Man Serving a Life Sentence
1:36 $0.99
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15. "Luthuli Bambiza E Oslo" (Tribute to Chief Albert Luthuli – Noble Prize Winner)
1:32 $0.99
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16. Muntu - Learned at Training Camp in Angola
0:35 $0.99
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17. "Guerilla Sizobabulala" (Guerilla, We Will Kill Them)
1:28 $0.99
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18. Grant - The TV Story: Pulling the Blanket Over My Head
2:10 $0.99
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19. "Sasolburg" (The Oil Refinery is Burning- ANC Boys Sabotaged it Yesterday)
1:25 $0.99
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20. The War Medley - "Toi Toi" (War Dance)
2:46 $0.99
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21. Thembinkosi – A Dedication to the Cubans
0:55 $0.99
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22. "Take Over" (Take Our Country the Castro Way)
1:49 $0.99
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23. Thembinkosi - Ants and Cockroaches
1:50 $0.99
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24. "Avante Popular" (in Spanish: Viva Communism)
1:40 $0.99
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25. Thembinkosi - We Did Not Go to Europe, Europe Came to Us
0:48 $0.99
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26. "Chimurenga Dzakatanga" (The Struggle Continues in Zimbabwe)
1:37 $0.99
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27. Interlude
1:12 $0.99
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28. Thembinkosi – Celebrating Zimbabwe's Independence
1:00 $0.99
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29. “Kure Kure Kwa Ndinobva” (Far Away is My Home)
2:11 $0.99
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30. Muntu's Arrest: Detention, Torture, Interrogation, Trial, Sentenced to 22 Years
5:11 $0.99
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31. Muntu - In Prison Sugar and Water Kept Us Alive During Hunger Strikes
0:37 $0.99
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32. "Sugar Lump" - Sing-A-Long With Kids
2:29 $0.99
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33. Muntu's Clementine Duet
1:46 $0.99
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34. "What a System" (What a Crime)
4:33 $0.99
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35. Thembinkosi - Letters from Loved Ones
2:33 $0.99
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36. "Ama Come Duze" (Come Closer Sweetheart, Daddy is Here)
0:58 $0.99
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37. Thembinkosi - Dedicated to Gizenga, an Old Man Who Taught us to Survive in Prison
0:58 $0.99
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38. "Bulawayo" (The Enemy Appears From Around the Corner?)
1:22 $0.99
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39. Grant – "Kuyahanjwa" – We Are Going Home!
2:59 $0.99
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40. Grant – The World Seemed as if it Was Just One Country With One President: Mandela
2:22 $0.99
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41. "Umzabalazo Uyasivumela" (Everywhere the Struggle is in Our Favor)
1:12 $0.99
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42. Closing Words
1:01 $0.99
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43. "Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica" – God Bless Afrika (South Africa's National Anthem)
3:06 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
The Robben Island Singers are a group of three ex-political prisoners from South Africa. They tell stories from life in the townships, joining the armed struggle to free their country, and their time in prison on Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was serving a life sentence. One of the things that sustained them in prison was singing. The songs they sang, mostly traditional folk songs, took on new meanings through the context of the struggle. This album includes some of those stories and songs.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s Grant Shezi, Muntu Nxumalo and Thembinkosi Sithole were incarcerated for taking up arms to end Apartheid. They served 10, 13 and 9 years in prison on Robben Island, the infamous apartheid era prison. Like thousands of young men and women, they joined Umkhonto weSizwe, or MK, the armed wing of the African National Congress – a banned organization under apartheid (now the governing party of South Africa). Individually each man was captured, chained, tortured, tried for treason and terrorism and sent in the bottom of a ship to an island prison.

They would soon meet older prisoners who taught them how to survive and how to sing the history of their struggle. Prisoners sang traditional folk, freedom and worker songs in various African languages and in English, sometimes just adding new phrase or two to a vintage song to give it a new meaning. Entire sections of the prison, or just a few prisoners might launch into one of these simple and stirring acapella phrases in celebration of good news, or in resistance to prison authorities, or simply to express the desperate need for a morale boost during a long struggle against oppression, racism, loneliness. Frequently prisoners would sing a familiar melody and improvise new lyrics to challenge prison authorities. In this album, you will hear these stories and songs. It is a history of struggle that will surprise you for it speaks in rich harmonies across all the boundaries that divide by race, poverty and privilege.

Ironically, these three singers had never performed together outside of the prison until a documentary filmmaker, Jeff Spitz, brought them halfway across the world to the United States. Now through collaboration with Groundswell Educational films, they have been invited to sing at universities, high schools, churches and cultural institutions.

The Robben Island Singers are now taking their unique, unscripted musical performances into American communities, including disadvantaged, violence-stricken neighborhoods. Because of their own life experiences, their bravery and sacrifice for freedom, and their creative, wise insights into forgiveness, The Robben Island Singers give voice to youth and inspire audiences of all ages.

The story of the Robben Island Singers will soon be released in a feature documentary film.

See http://robbenislandsingers.com for trailers, video clips, and more about this extraordinary trio – and a remarkable documentary film in progress.

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