News Brief

South Africans Remember the Tragic Marikana Massacre at Lonmin Mine

Seven years ago today, 34 miners were gunned down by police and justice is still not yet on the horizon.

Today is the seventh year anniversary of the Marikana Massacre which took place at Lonmin Mine. Situated in South Africa's North West province, workers at the mine downed their tools and embarked on protests where they demanded that their salaries be increased. In the week leading up to the tragic day of August 16th, there were numerous attempts by trade unions such as the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) to bring an end to the clashes between the mineworkers and the police. Their attempts were in vain. Thirty-four miners were gunned down by police and several others injured in what was the worst loss of human life at the hands of the police since the Apartheid era.


There are a number of reasons why the Marikana Massacre has remained a wound in the hearts of many South Africans. Internationally-acclaimed South African filmmaker, Rehad Desai, produced the poignant and Emmy award-winning documentary, Miners Shot Down, two years after the massacre and the details revealed within the documentary were telling.

There was tremendous suspicion that the police had attempted to conceal the true events of that day. What's worse, there was actual footage that went against what the then National Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega, had reported. As Desai's documentary pointed out, it was unclear why the protesting miners, who were stationed on a large boulder and were not occupying any mine property or blocking any roads, were gunned down in the first place. The documentary also revealed that on the day, the police had ordered 4000 rounds of live ammunition and four vans from the mortuary. In addition, following the massacre, ambulances were reportedly barred access to any of the miners for an hour.

If that were not enough, President Cyril Ramaphosa, sat on the non-executive board of Lonmin Mine and allegedly sent damning emails the day before the massacre.

Although evidence pointing towards the crime scene having been tampered with and miners in hiding having been sought out and murdered, justice has still not been delivered for many of the families affected.

The Marikana Massacre remains to this day, one the darkest times in South Africa's fledgling democracy.

Watch the trailer to Miners Shot Down below.

Miners Shot Down - Cinema Trailer youtu.be

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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