Today you’re Linton Kwesi Johnson, tomorrow you’re Clinton who?

29 April 2009, 5:27 pm

No chance, but thus the said man said, explaining his constant touring as making hay while the sun shines.

It’s 7 years old, but here’s a great inter-overview with him by Maya Jaggi at The Gaurdian (May 2002). Check it.

A gracious friend offered me a ticket to his show on Friday, May Day; I had initially toyed with going, but it’s open air (I think), and it’s Cape Town in May. The weather might play a role. Besides, if it’s Denis Bovell’s band, you want that shit indoors, so that the bass reverberates off walls into your gut.

Anyhoo, I had to decline the ticket as I had then already made alternative plans.

I’ve been listening to LKJ quite a bit lately, especially ‘Reggae fi Radni’ (about Walter Rodney, for the uninitiated) and ‘Reggae fi Dada’ (about his dad’s passing). The latter remains one of my favourites. Some of the lines could so easily be about Cape Town:

Mi nevvah have no time when mi reach
fi see no sunny beach when mi reach.
Jus people a-live in shack
people livin’ back-to-back
‘mongst cackroach and rat
‘mongst dirt an disease
subject to terrorist attack
political intrigue
constant grief
and no sign of relief.


The mighty poet, I-Roy, was on de wire…*

8 February 2009, 12:05 pm

LOOKING FOR clips of Jerome Taylor’s five-for against England yesterday, I happened onto two golden oldies, toaster supreme, I-Roy, in a “Tribute to Michael Holding“: “Michael Holdin’, doun in Londontown is golden…” (from the album, Musical Shark Attack, 1976)

So, if you are of a certain age, pickling in collapso nostalgia, tun up de soun’ (No moving pictures):

*Linton Kwesi Johnson, “Street 66”

Dagga- Part Four

13 December 2008, 10:07 am

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

I did start smoking dagga. Details evade me, but the first time would have been on that large veld where die dam was, the farmhouse now abandoned. It would have been at some point during the last three years of high school, with Bokkie, Hare and MC, who had all already tried dope a few times.

By Std. 9 or 10, an obligatory drinking culture had developed among many of our peers, some of them friends. At an older friend’s flat or in Orleans Park with friends who were already at university, and who thus had bursary money to burn and were of legal age, some of my friends drank away their weekends. ‘n Kis biere, ‘n bottel hardehout (hard tack). Four people. One evening’s drinking. Or these were friends from school who were now already at university (I failed Std 8 in 1981 and thus had old class mates a year ahead of me). I didn’t drink. While I may have been intrigued by alcohol (advertising, or from seeing an uncle from my mother’s side lean on a fence on a hot day, a chilled can of Black Label in hand), as a good Muslim boy I stayed away from it, having developed the appropriate distaste towards it and its consumers. Even had I had the interest, I would not have been able to disappear from home for two days, which was needed for my drinking friends, ‘sleeping over’ at an older, independent friend, drinking, passing out, sobering up. Read the rest of this entry »

Dagga – Part Three

6 December 2008, 2:48 pm

Part One

Part Two

Mervin Morkel, a classmate, introduced me to reggae at some point during the long months that we were out on national school boycotts in 1980. Deep in winter, and bored with the ‘alternative education’ programme – listening to speeches, singing ‘freedom songs’ that were mostly old spirituals or hymns – or wary that police action may be imminent, we stayed home. Mervin would visit, carrying his sought-after army knapsack brimming with vinyl records: Linton Kwesi Johnson’s Forces of Victory, Peter Tosh’s Equal Rights, Jimmy Cliff’s Follow my Mind, “Remake the world” from the latter featuring as a freedom song sung at ‘mass meetings’ at school:

Too many people are suffering
Too many people are sad
Too little people got everything
While too many people got nothing

Remake the world
With love and happiness
Remake the world
Put your conscience to the test…

Bob Marley in there also, of course. Kaya, Natty Dread, Rastaman Vibration, Zimbabwe, later Uprising. Read the rest of this entry »

Now tell me someting…

29 July 2008, 5:36 pm

Mistah Police Spokesman, tell me someting:

How long yu really tink
we would a tek yu baton lick
yu jackboot kick
yu dirty bag o’ trick
an yu racist politics, racist politics, hey?

Well down in Bristal
dey had no pistal
but dem chase yu babylon away
man yu shoulda see yu babylon
how dem really run away
yu shoulda see yu babylon dem
dig up dat dey, dig up dat dey, dig up dat dey…

— Linton Kwesi Johnson, ‘Making History’

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