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Photo: Sabelo Mkhabela

South Africa Legalizes Marijuana—Smokers Rejoice​

The country's constitutional court announced today that dagga AKA ganja AKA weed AKA canibus can now be legally consumed in private places in South Africa.

Last year as Lesotho began growing weed for medical and research purposes we asked what would marijuana legalization look like in South Africa? Speculate no longer.


This morning South Africa's Constitutional Court declared the law criminalizing the use of weed unconstitutional and invalid, giving the government 24 months to come up with new ones that respected South Africans' right to privacy "in their private spheres." While it will "not be a criminal offence for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private for his or her personal consumption,"the BBC reports, it would still not be legal to use the drug in public, to sell it or supply it. Prior to the ruling, possession of marijuana in South Africa could earn you up to 15 years in prison and up to 25 years for dealing the substance.

Countries and jurisdictions across the globe have been moving toward legalizing consumption of marijuana, often pointing out the substance's relative lack of danger compared to alcohol and tobacco and, especially in the United States, the unequal application of laws related to is criminalization.

LISTEN: 11 South African Hip-Hop Songs About Weed

As cheekily reported in News24:

This is a joint victory for Dagga Party leader Jeremy Acton and Rastafarian Garreth Prince who argued on December 13 and 14, 2016, for the decriminalisation of the herb.

South African Rastafarians showed out for the announcement. As did a wide range of legalization activists who lit up joints outside the court. As expected, the news has overwhelmed discussion on South African social media with discussion ranging from the serious to the silly.










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Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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