free peoples concert at the Witwatersrand University March 12th 1972

free peoples concert no 1 cover

please take some time out to listen to both sides of this unique and ultra rare album, recorded at an open air festival at the Witwatersrand University March 12th 1972 in Johannesburg. It was not a free festival, visitors were expected to contribute money to the organisation TEACH (Teach Every African Child), but the idea of the festival was that all visitors were “free people”.

The line-up of artists shows all colors of the Rainbow Nation, the idealized nation of all peoples who inhabit South Africa. It was apparently well possible in 1972 in South Africa  that a festival brought together national musicians of all races and color in the spirit of Woodstock, the most famous rock concert and festival ever held in August 1969 in Bethel USA.  For many, Woodstock showed the counterculture of the 1960s and the “hippie era” and I guess that the same ideals also applied to the folk festival on the grounds of the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg on 12 March 1972. But at the same time it voiced a slight edge of protest against the apartheid government of the time.

The line-up consists of white folk groups and singers, black artists like the Casaloma Brothers, Malombo or The Malombos with Julian Bahula and Ahmed Mukhtar, an Indian group. Due to the limited space on this LP recording, the organisation had omitted  artists Jon Clegg, Sipho Mchunu and the dancers Wa Madhlebe, Johnny Horn, Mike Dues the Poet and the 5000 or so other ‘free’people who attended this festival.

paul clingman mike dickman


edi nederlanderthe dunbar street folk groupdes & dawn lindberg

casaloma brothers

ahmed mukhtar

Free Peoples Concert No 1 side 1

Tracklisting Side 1

Mahogany Row -Paul Clingman/Mel Miller/Edi Nederlander

Do-Re-Mi (written by Woody Guthrie) -Mel Miller

Jay Gould’s Daughter -Edi Nederlander

Let No Man Steal Your Time -The Dunbar Street Folk Group

You Don’t Have To Be Lonely -Kevin Hinds

Winnie -The South Country Band

Free Peoples Concert No 1 side 2

Tracklisting Side 2

Kwahlathi/Limehill -The Casaloma Brothers

What Did You Learn In School Today? -Des & Dawn Lindberg

Roelandstraat -Brian Beddington

Prayer When I Die -Paul Clingman

Tunin Up-Dhun (A Melody For The Occasion) -The Ahmed Mukhtar Group

Mama -Malombo; Julian Bahula (home made drums) Lucky Ranku (electric guitar)

I Just Can’t Be Satisfied, I Just Can’t Keep From Trying -Mike Dickman

pics and some text based on the liner notes of The South African Folk Music Association (Safma) presents on open air ‘Free Peoples Concert No 1’ at the Witwatersrand University on  Sunday the 12th of March 1972 -private pressing

Julian Bahula & Jabula -a call for freedom 1979

To start the week I propose this rare album by South African group Jabula, found just last friday on a local flea-market, not so surprising since Holland has always had a long tradition with the ANC. During the struggle against Apartheid Holland supported the cause and sheltered South African artists in exile. This often resulted in releasing music locally that was banned  in South Africa during those days. The record was recorded and released in London, UK. The pressing is on Jabula Records, and I noticed that it was published in 1979. There are other releases on Virgin and Plaene. See label and cover for more details.

Jabula -Siakala -We Are Sad + Our Fathers

Jabula -Let Us Be Free


side A

1. Jabula Happiness

2. Baile-They are Gone

3. Listen To Me Crying

4. Naledi

5. Badishi-Herdboys

Side B

1. Thandi

2. Siakala -We Are Sad

3. Our Fathers

4. Let Us Be Free

Musicians featured on this album

Vicky Busiswe Mhlongo -lead vocals, Ken Eley -Tenor, Soprano, Madumetja Ranku -Guitar, percusssion, Mgotsi Mothle -Bass guitar, acoustic bass, backing vocals, Graham Morgan -drums, percussion, Sebothane Bahula -leader, African drums, percussion, Willy Cheetham -congas, percussion, backing vocals, Dudu Pukwana -alto, Eddie Quansah -trumpet, George Larnyoh -tenor, flute, Peter Van Der Puije -baritone, Jean Alian Roussel -keyboards, Maureen Koto Lembede -background vocals.

Produced by Dave Bloxham. Artwork and painting by the late South African artist Dumile Feni.

Published Jabula Records 1979 -JBL 2002 UK

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Two other albums; ‘Afrika Awake’ and ‘Zuid Afrikaanse muziek’ are also in my collection and I will happily provide rips in case there is any interest, just let me know! More info on Jabula in future posts…

Jabula was formed in 1974 and consisted of:

Julian Bahula, lead vocals, formerly of Philip Tabane’s Malombo Jazzmen

Ernest Mothle, bass guitar

Lucky Ranku, guitar and percussion

Eddie Tatane, percussion

The four members that became Jabula met in London where they were living after leaving South Africa.  Under the Apartheid regime, traditional African music was largely banned from radio and even private play, and groups who performed it were often forced into exile.

Here is an excerpt from Jabula’s Music own website

The year was 1964; the venue, Orlando Stadium, the era’s music mecca of South Africa; the occasion, the Castle Lager Jazz Festival, organised by impresario Sipho Sydney Sepamla, the internationally known poet. Three young men from Mamelodi, a township in Pretoria, created a great impact on the crowd of 60.000; the new sound of their music heralded a cultural awakening.

 This was the public birth of the Malombo Jazzmen, consisting of leader and guitar wizard, Philip Tabane, flautist and harmonica player, Abbey Cindi and Julian Bahula on traditional African Drums. These drums gave the group it’s distinctive sound and became known simply as Malombo drums.

In the 60’s, festivals in South Africa were run on a competitive basis, and the honours went to the Malombo Jazzmen; primitive yet sophisticated, simple and soulful. The 1964 Castle Lager Festival was the first time that Julian Bahula had played for such a large crowd of people and he describes his drums as sounding like a call for freedom.

see also this excellent post on Jabula at freedomblues

a discography(not complete) can be found here