Oliver Tambo

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Humanity is a disease to mother Earth thus motherfuckers don’t deserve my love. Why are we so destructive, unprogressive and hopelessly retarded in our pursuit of happiness? As I pen this piece of mind it is the 7th of May 2019. The day before South Africa holds its sixth democratic election to select the political organisation which will get to rule my home country for the next half a decade.
The winner will most certainly be the African National Congress. A well organised collection of liars, thieves and killers. Everybody knows what they are but nobody can prove it and most of us do not care. Admittedly lying, thieving and killing are a necessary component in a social struggle against oppression.

That does not translate well when a liberation movement becomes the governing party. The history of Africa since its independence bares testament to this unfortunate truth. Although that history is not without its heroes and heroines. Thomas Sankara, Steve Bantu Biko, Ruben Um Nyobè, Tambo just to name a few. Their courage in the face of Caucasian tyranny transformed their lives into monuments of beauty in this cold white world.
Beauty is the source of joy in life and for this not so humble writer, the beauty in anything lies in the thought behind it. This is why some of us as pretentious Hip Hop heads do not fuck with Trap music and refuse to acknowledge it as a fundamental part of Hip Hop culture. We simply do not understand the intent and the thought behind it.

I only started to appreciate the beauty of Trap after watching a documentary series called Noisy Atlanta. In the series a nerdy and scrawny white male follows influential Trap artists through the American city of Atlanta. The city is a critical transportation point for that country’s economy. Consequentially illegal drugs coming in from Mexico have to go through the city. This creates an opportunity for the disenfranchised African American population in the city. With a heavy drug and gang culture, Trap houses spring up all over the city like mushrooms.

A Trap house is basically a comprehensively fortified house in which dealers produce and sells narcotics. Those menaces to society live in a constant state of fear. They are always on the lookout for the pigs and snitches who try to put another black man behind bars, but there need for the all mighty dollar drives them to remain in the game. Some of these delinquents are able to express that state of mind through music. That is how Trap music came to be.

Generally Trap beats are filled with sonic textures that create an atmosphere of fear, which is contrasted with cheerful bells or strings. The lyrics are always about drugs, money and sex. With that said, when one takes a deeper listen to the music, you will come to understand that Trap is about the hustle. Trappers take pride in their work ethic and the ability to come out on top with the odds stacked against them. Which is quite effective when one is in the gym or on their way to a stressful meeting and they need to kill it. Trappers do not allow fear to get in the way of what they want and what they need.

Fear is a necessary evolutionary response when one finds themselves in a dangerous situation. It inspires action where a person either has to fight or flee to survive but fear stifles thought. Without thought there is no beauty and a life without beauty is a life filled with misery. This is the reason why the South African Bantu is such a sorry excuse for a human. We are filled with fear.
With 17 million people on social welfare, we have chosen to live on our knees rather than dying on our feet. We afraid of truth, sacrifice and change. The truth is that the consequence of capitalism is inequality. Free markets do not give a fuck about social cohesion and the common good. Its only concern is profits and losses. We as a people have to sacrifice luxury and a bit of comfort. In order to effectively address the issues that we face as a society. We are afraid of change. We need to let go of unprogressive tribal, cultural, and social norms that are no longer relevant in this current space and time.

Thus it is fear that retards our pursuit of happiness. It has turned us into illiterate, binge drinking and brash people. In other words fear has made us ugly.


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Given that they are on the microphone and talking directly to the audience, soloists will be the ones hogging the attention. While the bassist, who has the thankless job of carrying the music, is relegated to the background.

History has placed Oliver Tambo’s crucial role in the struggle in that precarious position, while an individual is upheld as the messiah of a movement.

In a year swamped with centenary celebrations for the late Nelson Mandela, South African and USA artists plus their politicians will pay homage to the life of Tambo through a double disc album titled Voices On OR- a musical tribute to Tambo.

“To me, movements are always about more than just the person who is sort of the leader or spearhead of it,” says L.A bassist Miles Mosely.

“That person is very important, we know for the freedom fighters, that the work [Nelson] Mandela did is something that the entire world celebrates. But for me, as a bass player who is often times behind the soloist, to me studying the story of Tambo allowed me to understand that he was this foundational character. Somebody who was the kind of earth of the movement and had to explain complicated ideas to the rest of the world- I really connected with that idea. Oliver Tambo was the bass player of the freedom fighters, you know,” says Mosely, laughing.

The Upright bassists talks to Tha Bravado about his his involvement in the project. The vocalist, producer, composer and arranger was asked to be part of Voices On OR after his performance at the Cape Town Jazz Festival last year.

Mosely is an accomplished musician that has worked with Mos Def, India Arie, Lauryn Hill, Terrence Howard and also played on three tracks on Kendrick’s To Pimp A Butterfly.

He also worked on three songs on Voices On OR, one of the songs I got a chance to listen to at the Downtown Studios where the recording takes place, was Roving Ambassador, which has an unmistakable African sound that captures continent’s warmth and enthusiasm.

Miles Mosley_Photo cred Aaron Woolf Haxton

“Unfortunately my lineage was thrown in the ocean. So I don’t know what specific cultures, tribes and traditions I come from. So I try to celebrate as many as I can and I try to understand as many as I can. Some of them ring in my heart and come out on my bass or the piano, a bit truer. That feeling and that sound for that song, is something that resonates deeply with me in my heart.”

He credits this to his time at UCLA, where he studied Ethnomusicology, learning music of the world. “All music, as far as I’m concerned, starts and stops in Africa and African traditions. Everybody says that and keeps it moving. But I really wanted to make sure that it was an inescapable part of it, not something that’s to be modernised or changed.”

The double album is musically directed by renowned singer Gloria Bosman while seasoned saxophonist McCoy Mrubata is tasked with the role of producing. Among others, the project will include Jonathan Butler, Tsepo Tshola, Mandisa Dlanga, Jabu Magubane, Herbie Tsoaeli and Steve Dyer. Performances in the recording will be characterized by interpretations of musical themes based on events around OR’s life. Included will be a composition titled Tambo’s Dance – a song inspired by an event in 1963 where Tambo got so excited by the contents of a document for Operation Mayibuye, that he leapt out of his chair and did a jubilant dance.

Crossing the Limpopo with Father Tambo – blends poetry by Mongane “Wally” Serote, narration by former President Thabo Mbeki and singing by Ladysmith Black Mambazo with music accompaniment from  the Beda Hall Double Quartet Band. The band is named after Tambo’s band at Fort Hare, to which Tambo was vocalist.

Forming part of today’s Quartet is Paul Hanmer, Ayanda Sikade, Khaya Ceza, Shane Cooper, Tlale Makhene and Feya Faku.

The US is represented by R&B singer Eric Bennet, rapper Javier Starks and former US president Barack Obama who will be narrating some of Tambo’s life. The project is funded by the National Lotteries Commission and should be out in October.



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