Punk in Africa: The sound of resistance

punk-africa-national-wake
Photo: Rob Muir

Punk music has never really had an easy time, but never has that statement been truer than in South Africa during apartheid. Not only were records by alternative artists not played, they were destroyed and legislated.

Up until the early 1980s there had been only one mainstream band that had dared to be multi-racial, the music group Juluka. In fact, prior to this, it had been illegal for musicians of different ethnic backgrounds to perform together in a public place under the Separate Amenities Act of 1953. This didn’t deter the punks however.

In Johannesburg, something was beginning to happen. In the 1970s, a number of promising musicians, from a variety of different backgrounds, started to form punk bands.

Bands such as National Wake, Kalahari Surfers, and Corporal Punishment were born out of this punk scene. They wrote unashamedly about issues that were facing South Africa during apartheid.

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