Punk In Africa is a surprise to me.  First, because it is a concept I did not know existed – for someone who had lived the punk-rock life or worshiped at its altar from inception, this is unacceptable that I had no idea.  Second, because I would not have guessed that in such a racially/culturally/socially divided place such as South Africa (where the majority of this is based) that something as free-thinking, politically charged and provocative as punk could ever be allowed to seep in, let alone have bands take seed and grow.  However, filmmakers Keith Jones and Deon Maas have given me an education on the punk scene that, indeed, rose in the late ’70’s in South Africa.

Bands such as Wild Youth and Power Age were amongst the first to question the long-standing Afrikaaner way or to disavow it completely; many of the songs were diatribes against the machinations of apartheid.  However, there did not seem to be a great deal of continuity in the punk scene as the movie shifts from the late 1970’s to the late 1980’s and the sounds of the music start to be less of a “punk” nature and become more infused with a “traditional” sound and melody.  By the early ’90’s, much of the music was a mixture of punk-y rhythms mixed with ska, as performed by bands like Hog Hoggidy Hog and Fuzigish.

By and large, this is an interesting documentary; one that does give you information as well as exposes you to “new” music.  Seek this one out; it’s worth the time.

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About the Author

Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been, for good, bad or indifferent, involved in the music industry for over 30 years - first as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, then as freelance journalist, producer and manager to working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star and his orange Gretsch. Doesn't that make him neat?

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