Original Research

The role of political songs in the realisation of democracy in South Africa

H.C. Groenewald
Literator | Vol 26, No 2 | a231 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v26i2.231 | © 2005 H.C. Groenewald | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 July 2005 | Published: 31 July 2005

About the author(s)

H.C. Groenewald, Department of African Languages, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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The issue this article attempts to explore is whether a form of oral art – political songs – played a part in achieving democracy in South Africa, and, if so, how this aim was achieved. In this regard it should be kept in mind that political songs form part of the large, vibrant body of oral art in South Africa. An aspect of oral art that is particularly relevant to political songs is that it is often performed to be efficacious, that is, it is performed to achieve a desired result. Equally important is the attribute of performance. It is obvious that the political song derived much of its power from the dynamics of performance. Political songs evolved from church hymns with obscure references of suffering to power singing with an overt and belligerent political message. The conclusion arrived at is that political songs played a vital role in forging democracy from below.


Democracy; Oral Art; Performance; Political Songs


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