The Rise and Fall of National Wake, South Africa’s first multiracial punk band at the height of apartheid, that sang about state violence and political freedoms.
The history of South African music under apartheid can roughly be divided into two categories. The first, and arguably the best documented, is that associated with the exile Jazz diaspora—think Miriam Makeba at the UN and Hugh Masekela performing at London’s anti-apartheid rallies. The second is of those musicians who remained in the country and carved out musical spaces and subcultures in a context of police harassment, surveillance, and relative isolation.
A new documentary, This is National Wake, by Mirissa Neff sheds valuable light on this under- examined second category.