Propaganda and politics tunnel vision history of art activism in South Africa by Percy Mabandu

Writer’s Brief

Diana Wylie‘s book Art and Revolution – The Life and Death of Thami Mnyele, published in April 2008 preceded a torrent of books examining South African art’s “forgotten” story: BC artists and collectives and alternative art histories.  The Johannesburg Art Gallery opened the Thami Mnyele and Medu Art Ensemble exhibition in the last months of 2008. It was followed by the Thami Mnyele & Medu Art Ensemble Retrospective, a book which brings together the myriad artworks exhibited and the stories of the original members of Medu who created them in a generously illustrated work. John Peffer’s Art and the End of Apartheid billed as “the first book to fully explore cosmopolitan modern art by black South Africans under apartheid” was published in early 2009.

We read Wylie’s biography in this context, exploring the resurgence of interest in BC artists and collectives and the need to revise South African art history.

Reading List

  • LEFIFI TLADI – DASHIKI & THE POETS – Live Hidden Year’s Recordings 1972 to 1974
  • 3rd Ear Music Hidden Years Music Archive Project (HYMAProject) CDR 933 / 934, <>
  • Lefifi Tladi performing at Poetry Africa 2006 in Durban, YouTube, Uploaded Oct 29 2006,<>
  • ‘Giant Steps’ 2005 Dir. geoff mphakati & aryan kaganof.  ziyanda ngcaba for african noise foundation, <>
  • Tabane, P & Malombo. 1964 Castle Larger Jazz Festival, Gallo, Johannesburg
  • —. 1969 The Indigenous Afro-Jazz Sounds of Philip Tabane and his Malombo Jazzman, UPL
  • —.  1971 Music of the Spirit , 3rd Ear Music
  • —. 1973 Pele Pele, ATC
  • —. 1976, Malombo, Kaya
  • —. 1978, Sangoma , ATH
  • —. 1980,Unh! , Electra/Nonesuch
  • —. 1989, Silent Beauty, Erdenklang Music
  • —. 1997, Ke A Bereka, Gallo
  • —. 1998, Muvhango, Gallo, Johannesburg
  • Kellner, C (ed) & Gonzales, S A 2010, Thami Mnyele + Medu Art Ensemble Retrospective. Jacana Media
  • Wylie, D 2008, Art + Revolution: The life and death of Thami Mnyele, University of Virginia Press
  • Serote, M W 1983, Yakhal’Inkomo, Ad Donker
  • —. 1994, Come and Hope With Me. David Philips
  • —.1997, Freedom Lament and Song. New Africa Books
  • 2004, History is the Home Address. Kwela Books
  • —.1999, Gods of Our Time. Ravan Press
  • —. 2002, Scatter the Ashes and Go. Ravan Press
  • —. 2011, Revelations. Jacana Media
  • Williamson, S & Jamal, A 2010, Resistance Art in South Africa (1989),  Juta and Company Ltd
  • Williamson, S & Jamal, A 1996, Art in South Africa: the future present, David Philip
  • Oliphant, A W & Vladislavić, I 1988, Ten years of Staffrider, 1978-1988. Ravan Press

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