In the years leading up to the advent of democracy in 1994, artists such as Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Abdullah Ibrahim, Johnny Clegg and Brenda Fassie, among many others, led the fight against apartheid with their music and activism. While in exile, Masekela, Makeba and Ibrahim continued to release protest songs despite the censorship laws back home, sensitising the West to the inhumane treatment of people by the apartheid government. Artists outside of South Africa like Youssou N’Dour, Stevie Wonder, Peter Gabriel and Eddy Grant also joined the chorus to speak out against the regime.
Since 1994, music has continued to play a major role in the fight against police brutality and socio-economic oppression, with many artists continuing the work of the aforementioned greats.
In honour of Human Rights Day, we have put together a playlist of protest songs that speak to social injustice and human rights abuses, while honouring the anti-apartheid actors who dedicated their lives to freedom.