november, 2018

20nov6:00 pmSTACK EXCHANGE: Music has the power


Event Details

Mandela, Robben Island  & Music in the Apartheid Prisons

“Music has the power to elevate and liberate us. It sets people free to dream. It can unite us to sing with one voice” (Nelson Mandela)

Drawing on the wider historical context of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle, Janie Cole’s ground-breaking multi-media talk explores music’s critical role as a force for resistance and survival in the liberation movement, in particular at the maximum security prison on Robben Island and in women’s prisons.

Based on new interviews with former political prisoners, it reveals how black music performance – from African indigenous genres like isicathamiya, maskanda, kwela and mbaqanga  to freedom songs, cape jazz, traditional migrant work songs, classical, rock, reggae, and Indian ragas – provided resistance, critique, community, therapy, memory and identity for political prisoners, undermining the white supremacist government and transcending political, linguistic and ethnic differences to unite an oppressed people against a common enemy. Incarcerated and tortured, political prisoners sacrificed all for their belief in racial equality, democracy and human rights.”

Janie Cole PhD is a visiting professor at UCT  and a musicologist and oral historian with speciality research areas in 20th century South African music, protest and prison resistance during the anti-apartheid struggle; in Italian music, poetry, theatrical spectacle and cultural history of the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods. Janie is also founder/executive director at Music Beyond Borders ( which aims to preserve music and testimonies, this is an important South African cultural heritage preservation project.

Tuesday 20th November 2018

18h00 for 18h30 start

R250 for Stack members and R300 for non-members.

Book your seats by emailing


(Tuesday) 6:00 pm


The Stack

Leinster Hall, 7 Weltevreden Street, Gardens, Cape Town, South Africa

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