News

Thirty One Years Ago Today Stevie Wonder’s Music Was Banned In South Africa

Stevie Wonder's public support for Nelson Mandela prompted the apartheid regime to censor his music.


In his 1985 Oscar speech for “I Just Called To Say I Loved You” Stevie Wonder accepted the statuette on behalf of Nelson Mandela before moving on to thank Dionne Warwick and Gene Wilder.

A fleeting moment, perhaps, but for the white supremacist regime in South Africa it was enough to issue a broadcast ban on Wonder’s music. But Stevie Wonder’s connection to the anti-apartheid struggle went deeper than just the one speech. The same year—1985—Wonder hired exiled South African musicians to play on the song “It’s Wrong (Apartheid)" for the album “In Square Circle.”

Earlier that year, on Valentine’s day, he was arrested during an anti-apartheid protest in Washington DC, telling the Washington Post that he was guilty of being "a conscientious criminal for world equality and against racial oppression and apartheid." It looked liked this.

Less than four months after the ban, South African President P.W. Botha would announce a state of emergency, giving the police and military broad powers to implement curfews, censor the media and detain people without trial. A violent crackdown on black South Africans ensued. By 1988, 30,000 people had been detained and many tortured.

In 1997, Wonder would get to sing Happy Birthday to, now President, Mandela on his 80th birthday

News Brief
Photo credit should read RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images.

'Africa Is a Country Radio' Spotlights Cape Town in Latest Episode

Hosted by Chief Boima, the latest episode from 'Africa is a Country Radio' explores Cape Town's vibrant music scene from rapper YoungstaCPT to Cape Malay choral music, jazz and more.

Africa Is a Country Radio has shared its latest episode which puts Cape Town into the spotlight. The theme for the show's current season is port cities. Having explored the Black Atlantic and the Black Indian Ocean in their previous episodes, this latest episode positions Cape Town's history and so-called Cape Malay culture in the middle. The show is hosted by Sierra Leonean-American music producer and managing editor of the publication, Africa Is a Country, Chief Boima and also features two additional guests.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Veteran South African Journalist Karima Brown Has Died

Tributes have been pouring in for journalist, political commentator and activist, Karima Brown, who has recently passed away from COVID-19.