Johnny Clegg was born in Lancashire in England in 1953. He grew up in the United Kingdom, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Zambia and South Africa. He’s an important figure in South African popular music history. His songs are a mix of Zulu and English lyrics. When he was a young man he became interested in Zulu street music and took part in traditional Zulu dance competitions. He’s commonly known as “The White Zulu” in South Africa (and a few other countries). He formed the first mixed South African inter-racial band Jaluka (frowned upon but not forbidden by law by the Apartheid government) in the late 1970s. Jaluka (meaning “sweat” in Zulu) was disbanded in 1986.
Johnny Clegg formed his second mixed inter-racial band Savuka (meaning “we have risen” or “we have awakened”) shortly afterwards. Spirit of the Great is a well-known song in South Africa and remains as one of my favorite songs of all time. The song was the theme song for the 1992 film Jock of the Bushveld (based on the true story by South African author Sir Percy Fitzpatrick). Johnny Clegg was named at #23 in the SABC 3’s Great South Africans in 2004.
This is a video for Spirit of the Great Heart, followed by the lyrics:
Watch this space for regular updates in the Music category on Running Wolf’s Rant.