MUSICIANS UNITE TO BOOST EDUCATION
By Peter Burdin
A new education campaign has been launched in South Africa in honour of the country’s legendary musician Johnny Clegg.
Friends of Johnny Clegg brought together more than fifty of South Africa’s leading music stars to raise money for schools and to perform a moving tribute to Clegg who has been suffering from pancreatic cancer for the past three years.
In scenes reminiscent of Bob Geldoff’s Band Aid collaboration which raised money for famine, relief in Ethiopia, this recording of one of Clegg’s most famous songs will raise funds to improve education in the country.
The rearrangement and performance of Clegg’s 1993 classic, The Crossing, kick-starts a fund to improve education standards which Clegg has described as his “biggest passion”.
Clegg is a former Professor of Anthropology at Wits University in Johannesburg before going on to forge a highly successful musical career which made him one of South Africa’s most popular stars.
He sold over five million albums and won many awards over a three decade career in which he was celebrated for his non-racial political activism as well as his song-writing and performances. He developed a fusion of African and western music and became a pioneer of racial integration in South Africa where he played in mixed race bands like Juluka in defiance of South Africa’s apartheid laws.
The fund - called Friends of Johnny Clegg- aims to alleviate the education crisis in the country.
South Africa currently sits almost at the bottom of the international league tables for maths and literacy, falling behind countries like Bangladesh and Botswana who spend far less on education.
All the proceeds from the downloads of the song will be channelled into developing an online phonetics-based learning programme to help young people to read and write.
The Friends of Johnny Clegg sees this fund as a tribute to Clegg and a constructive way of supporting his love of education:
According to the charity’s organisers: “The Fund is aimed at changing lives for the young learners, supporting them on their journey and creating lifelong learners through their ability to read and use technology”.
Johnny Clegg said the launch of the Fund has left him speechless:
“To have so many of my peers acknowledge the song and its sentiments, and then use it to further something much bigger than all of us is an amazing moment”.