analysisBy Marianne Thamm
In the early 1980s, a small graphic of a caravan parked on a vinyl record was the logo of the pioneering, independent record label, Shifty. It came to represent the musical hopes and dreams of a generation of South Africans. Thirty years later the Shifty September Festival, culminating in a concert on September 24, will pay homage to a remarkable generation of musical activists and those who recorded them.
"New morning, new morning
Old ways get away
But here in my cradle
I lie incapable
I'm a white boy who looked at his life gathered in his hands
And saw it was all due to the sweat of some other man
That one who got shot down in the street"
- James Phillips - Shot Down in the Street, 1984 -
It was the worst of times politically but musically, it was the best of times. In the early 1980s, as bombs exploded in cities and rebellion reached fever pitch in the country's townships, a young man with a caravan and a plan embarked literally on musical journey that ultimately resulted in a treasure trove of the best resistance music ever recorded in South Africa.