STLT#172, Siph’ Amandla

This is another freedom song from South Africa, from during the time of apartheid.

It’s got energy and power and a sense of urgency that is compelling and captivating. And while it isn’t the only thing that makes liberation happen, song does remain a powerful tool in the activist toolbox. From the songs of enslaved Africans, to the protest songs of the civil rights movement, to the Singing Revolution in Estonia, to the songs of the Anti-Apartheid movement – along with many other examples I am too precaffeinated to think of – music makes a difference.

Music has power to give voice to our spirits, to soothe our nerves, to engage us, to motivate and awaken us, to bring us together, to provide not just a soundtrack but a unifying …. something… for what freedom and justice sound like. Music doesn’t just come from our heads through our mouths and to our ears, it vibrates our entire bodies. And when my body, vibrating in song, is next to your body, vibrating in song, we change the atmosphere and matter itself.

(Zulu) Siph’ amandla N’kosi. Wokungeverysabi.
Siph’ amandla N’kosi. Siyawadinga.

O God, give us power to rip down prisons.
O God, give us power to lift the people.

O God, give us courage to withstand hatred.
O God, give us courage not to be bitter.

O God, give us power and make us fearless.
O God, give us power because we need it.

I’m waxing a bit poetic today without much content about this particular song, I know. I am still not sure if the language of our first verse is Zulu or Xhosa – again, some varying sources. But it is inspiring nonetheless – such strong words of prayer, not just to make change but to keep us whole and remind us of our humanity. Good stuff.

Good good stuff.