Graceland by Paul Simon, Stimela, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Graceland by Paul Simon from Apple Music

🎵 I listened to Graceland a lot after its release in 1986. It was a form of Happy Music for me, playing it often in my college dorm room on my compact disc player. The music sounded like a mix of African rhythms and American country-folk music. If you listen to the lyrics, you can hear where Paul Simon connected racial segregation in the American South with apartheid in South Africa.

The song Gumboots has a rhythm that reminds me of Caribbean Calypso, which I'm sure is connected. The zydeco influenced song That Was Your Mother had me listening to a genre of American music I had never heard, which led me to search for more, learning about the people and culture Louisianna as a result. I discovered a part of American culture that appeared familiar to me, a Caribbean native.

The Graceland album was controversial in many ways, and I can understand why some people wrote and said horrible things about Simon. But, I think overall, the album was influential in humanising the struggle for freedom of South African blacks.

I enjoyed the music but struggled with the fact my father still worked for Barclays Bank (he worked there for 38 years), which at the time had significant financial holdings in South Africa. I got a lot of flack for that in high school, so I mentioned nothing of it while in college.

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