Wednesday, 30 April 2014

"Jazz for the struggle, the struggle for Jazz" by Ntuthuko Khuzwayo

"Jazz for the struggle, the struggle for Jazz"
2 March 2014
Pinetown: at the Rainbow Restaurant, in my endeavor to reason with my conscious whether I should celebrate my 20 years’ experience since I voted for a New South Afrika Entsha. I went with Bra John Ramaota to witness a unique collaboration, a Jazz exhibition, Andile Yenana Quintet featuring Sazi Dlamini on Guitar, Paki Peloeole on Drums, Prince Bulo on Bass and Leon Scharnick on Tenor Sax and Yenana on Piano.
I really wish to state on record that this is how I start to celebrate. Susanne Thomas and her friend Helga sharing a table with us, asked 'how long have you been coming to this Jazz venue?' "We grew up here, remember we were not allowed to sit like this. So this was the only venue in the City. Where the immorality and the group areas Act was really challenged successfully." I responded. I recall a protest march by musicians just across the street in 1980's with the banner. "Jazz for the struggle, the struggle for Jazz" The power that was, a racist regime with Draconian laws, was defeated.
Back to the ritual on stage, at the Rainbow or under a shade of the Rainbow. Sazi Dlamini invoked Idlozi lase Rainbow, playing uMakhweyane. As I struggle to follow a delicate sound from this one string sacred instrument, my eyes wondered the walls. I saw an image of Sisi Busi Mhlongo. Elegantly dressed to kill. I had a flashback of private moments at her flat, a bowl of fruits, Jabu Khanyile and Sisi Busi video at the Market, a surgical glove and an unwelcome flowers delivery. Sisi Busi was a real joy to share time with. Bhuti John shown me a Victor Ntoni and Baba Mokoena photo. My memories flew back into the 1980's at the front of Durban City Hall. Victor Ntoni and the Castle Milk Stout Big Band. He was leading that big band which made a note, not only a note, but a major impact on me to follow and collect this unique music. In time Sazi Dlamini invited the band to the stage - THE RAINBOW!
The Rainbow Jazz Restaurant: A stage that has sustained the energy of our Jazz Revolution. Yes it was a struggle. 20 years thereafter, arts is still in a perpetual struggle to sustain creativity inside this sacred platform. Neil Comfort introduced their International seasonal performances. The lineup includes Lex Futshane Quartet, Oliver Mtukudzi, Shabalala Rhythms, Feya Faku and many more.
Live music is the best meal to nourish my soul. As the band was playing my pen danced on this page to write this article. Yes I can say with no doubt this band do epitomize a positive future for 'our kind of jazz' so said Bra Zakes Nkosi, what Bra Ntemi Piliso called South African Township Jazz.
Music performance is about relations. Andile Yenana and Sazi Dlamini depict such, at its best. Sazi on guitar presented his well-rounded skills. That one cannot compare with anyone. As he was playing his beautiful solos and accompanied by a very good band, I had a flashback again to the same stage when Baba Mokoena, Sandile Shange and Allen Kwela would be doing it with their guitars on the same stage. Yes, I salute them all beyond the grave, your music will always live with us.
I must also thank Concerts SA for hosting such a noble idea. I do commit to add all your shows on my endeavor to commemorate my 20 year old vote. Rainbow Jazz Restaurant really defeated the immoral old SA.
We had a great time.
Written by: Ntuthuko Khuzwayo (at the Rainbow Restaurant)

Monday, 10 February 2014

Two speeches, one country

When Ben Pretorius sent through the transcript of his speech from the Rainbow's 32nd birthday celebrations, it prompted me to go back into the archive in search of another speech that he gave in the height of the State of Emergency. Together, they make quite an interesting read.

Speech by Ben Pretorius : Malombo Concert 31.08.86

One of the interesting things about being a South African, is that this government of ours never ceases to surprise and amaze us.

THEY TOLD US THAT……sport and politics don’t mix, yet it was them that banned players of colour from playing in this country.

THEY TOLD US THAT…..politics and religion don’t mix, yet it was they who used the bible to justify apartheid.

THEY TOLD US THAT…..politics and education don’t mix, yet it was them who introduced Bantu education as a tool to control and dominate the masses.

THEY TOLD US THAT…..politics and music don’t mix, yet it was them that hounded the Masekela’s, Dyani’s, Makeba’s into exile.

Now, in 1986, when they have dumped this country into political chaos, surprise, surprise….this government tells us that politics and music DO mix. They now want to spend R4,300,000 of MY money, YOUR money, OUR money, for us to all get together and sing ourselves out of this political quagmire they have dumped us in.

Our reply here, at the Rainbow Restaurant to this ill conceived exercise, lies in our slogan that we used earlier this year; namely “The Struggle for Jazz and Jazz for the Struggle”.
Over the past three years our struggle for jazz has been well documented and the audience here today is testimony to the progress we’ve made.

When we say “Jazz for the Struggle” we mean the following:

                               The struggle for the end of the state of Emergency
The struggle for the release of all detainees
The struggle for the release of Nelson Mandela and all our leaders
The struggle for the unbanning of the ANC and all other political parties
And the struggle for all South Africans to have an equal say in the future of one, unified South Africa and people.

Only then, and Only then, will we sing a song with one voice for the future of this country.
As for now, the only song we’ll sing is for the struggle to continue.


By: Ben Pretorius
Date: 15 12 2013
Venue: Rainbow Restaurant and Jazz Club Pinetown.

Today as we celebrate the Rainbow’s 32nd birthday the country and the world at large lays to rest one of the finest human beings ever to have walked this earth -  Nelson Rohlihlahla Mandela, the revolutionary, the freedom fighter, the statesman, the reconciler, the father of our nation and a  man of principle and immense humility.

On behalf of all of us here today I wish to convey our deepest sympathy and deep felt sorrow to the Mandela family and thank them for sharing him with us.

Over the past ten days many many people have shared their Mandela moment with the world -  how their lives were inspired and enriched by this incredible man.  Here at the Rainbow we too have a Mandela story to tell….

The Rainbow’s very existence, established on 17 December 1981, was as a result of the fight against evils of apartheid and inspired by the ideals as set out in the Freedom Charter of 1955.  Those ideals for a free and democratic South Africa for all to share in the wealth of the country were championed by the likes of Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Robert Sobukwe and many others who were prepared to die for the attainment of those ideals.

Under the banner “Jazz for the struggle and the struggle for jazz” the Rainbow used the unifying qualities of South African jazz and other art forms to unite people of all races against the evil forces of apartheid.

The very name- The Rainbow – was chosen to reflect our diverse population groupings in a convivial and peaceful venue, this long before the name Rainbow Nation was coined by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Concerts commemorating and celebrating anti-apartheid days such as June 16, May Day and human rights day were staged at the Rainbow.  We also staged concerts in direct protest against days that were in support or sympathetic to the apartheid regime such as – “not the Day of the Vow” concerts, and “don’t vote” concerts and many others.

During those very dark and repressive days of the 1980s, when states of emergency were regularly declared and the detention and the killing of activists were the order of the day, the Rainbow too was the target of the state machinery with threats to close it and threats to my life.

With the formation of the UDF in 1983 many of the anti-apartheid organisations in the country united and the resistance to the Government became a far more co-ordinated and effective force.

Here again the Rainbow played a very important role in promoting art and especially music to articulate the growing opposition to the system.  We organised concerts at Universities, trade union conferences, at funerals of activists and of course here at the Rainbow.

In July of 1988  on the day of Mandela’s 70th birthday, two concerts were planned to celebrate the occasion – one at the University of Durban-Westville on the Saturday night and the other here at the Rainbow on the Sunday afternoon.

Permission for the UDW concert was granted by the state but was subject to numerous conditions, all of which were agreed to by the organisers.  Despite this, the concert was banned at 20h00 on Friday night.  The next day, accompanied by the late Baba Archie Gumede (who was a listed person at the time and not allowed to speak in public) and members of the band Sakhile,  I drove to the University to take stock of the situation and to finalise plans for the concert at the Rainbow.  On our way there we were amazed to see SADF soldiers encamped in private gardens, en route to the University, rifles at the ready. 
At the entrance to the university we were stopped by the military.  After explaining that we wanted to collect musical equipment from the venue the band members were told to get out and wait in the shade of a caspir vehicle.  At the concert venue we were met by security police who told Baba Gumede to get out of the vehicle and for him to confine himself to an empty parking space and not to talk to anyone.  I was told too that I had five minutes to speak to the concert organisers and was warned that if the concert at the Rainbow the following day just mentioned the name Mandela I would be locked up and the concert stopped.
I hastily spoke to the UDW organisers and arranged for them all to come to the Rainbow for a meeting to finalise details and contingency plans for the Sunday concert.

The seating capacity of the Rainbow is approximately 180 but during the regular Sunday afternoon jazz concerts we could have up to 350 paying guests who make use of every seat and available standing room to squeeze in.  On this particular day however we sold 500 tickets with many people not being able to get in. 
Prior to the concert starting 8 armed police officers entered and asked for me.  Josh, who sold the tickets at the reception told them that our liquor license prohibited people entering the premises carrying firearms.  The officer in charge begrudgingly told them to wait outside.  He questioned me about our license and other matters relating to our trading conditions and left. Shortly thereafter several plain clothes security police entered and said they wanted to attend the concert.

With the venue bursting at the seams, and sweat running off the walls I got up on stage to welcome every one and introduce the band members.  Having done so, I did try to placate the fears that some of unusual guests may have had about the jazz concert.  I explained that the sound of the crashing drums should not be confused with bombs going off and that soprano saxophones were not RPG rocket launchers and so and that this was just a normal Sunday afternoon concert for all to enjoy.

The band started playing and half way through their first tune the security police left en mass,  cajoled by all as they departed. 

At that point I stopped the band and announced that this was now “officially the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday concert.  The announcement was greeted by a deafening cheer and everyone stood up and with fists raised sang Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica.  There was not a dry tear in the house.

Needless to say this cocking a snoop in the face of the authorities was widely reported in the international media subsequently.

In February of 1990 shortly after Mandela’s release, I was a member of the organising committee of a rally at which Mandela was to speak in Durban.  We were refused the use of the Kings Park stadium and as a result a temporary podium was erected on the grounds adjacent to the stadium.  Built with scaffolding material with steps leading up to the stage platform some 20 meters high this was the stage that Mandela had to mount to address his supporters and speak to the violence that pervaded Kwa Zulu Natal at the time.  I had the pleasure of meeting him on the stage and experience the awe in which he was held by the 150,000 supporters in attendance.

In February of 1991 the Highway Branch of the ANC was launched here at the Rainbow.  Amid threats of violence from the AWB in the lead up to the launch, security for the meeting was provided by SANDF soldiers who were, ironically, under the command of a former security policeman who had interrogated me in the past.  His response to the irony was...”same job, different boss”!!

In July of 1991 I was asked to organise the cultural programme for the ANC’s National Conference at UDW, the first in South Africa since it’s unbanning.  It was here that Mandela was unanimously elected as the present of the ANC.

A week later at a Kings Park Stadium rally welcoming OR Tambo back from exile, Mandela spoke of his vision of a free and democratic South Africa for all to live in.

From 1991 to 1994 prior to Mandela being elected as the first president of a democratic South Africa, the country and especially KwaZulu Natal, experienced unprecedented civil violence as nefarious forces within the country tried to scupper a negotiated settlement.  Incidents such as the bloody clashes between ANC and Inkatha supporters, the Boipotong massacre, the killing of Chris Hani to name but a few.

Many regular clients of the Rainbow suffered or were killed during this time.  It was also during this time that the Rainbow served as a sanctuary for those people who fled the violence that flared up in Hammarsdale, when we fed and found safe accommodation for the many refugees.

In 1994 as the first president of a democratic South Africa, Mandela displayed his unique qualities as a statesman and a reconciler, bringing together former enemies to form the Rainbow nation.

After serving only one term as president he retired from formal politics to become this amazing humanitarian, highlighting the plight of the poor the vulnerable and children of this country and the world...

It was then and until his death that he became this world icon, showing us how to be better human beings.  With his passing we now have to ask ourselves as South Africans, what is the Mandela legacy?

Sadly since he left the political stage, many in Government speak of the Mandela values but have not followed them up with deeds.  What sets Mandela apart from all the subsequent and many of the current ANC leadership is that he was the embodiment of his values and principles – he walked the talk.

Many of the current leadership resort to empty rhetoric and shallow platitudes and must now, more than ever before, be judged, not by what they say, but by their deeds.  The Mandela message must be clear … service to the people of this country and not service to themselves!!

Today a giant of a man was laid to rest at his humble home in rural South Africa and today by comparison we are led by a small man living in a very big house. Our responsibility, in this democracy that Mandela and many others sacrificed so much for, is to hold those in Government accountable for what Mandela stood for and to elect leaders who will best serve the people of this country.

God bless Africa Hamba Kahle Madiba.


 On a personal note, the unified singing of our national anthem, Nkosi Sikelele iAfrika at the close of our concert on 15 December 2013 was, unquestionably one of the most moving experiences I have had. The Rainbow spirit will never die.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Neil's BEAT Column in The Mercury 15 Nov 2013

Being currently involved in a music development program, I am only too aware of how desperate our musicians are for viable platforms to perform on. Without much marketing effort the Concerts SA program at the Rainbow Restaurant in Pinetown was oversubscribed within no time.
            The Playhouse Company will be holding auditions for next years’ Test Drive program on 12 and 13 December. Applications for audition slots open on Monday and will close on 6 December. Contact Khulekani Kunene on 031 369 9440 during business hours to apply.
            Talking development, coming up on Tuesday 3 December at the BAT Centre, is a workshop entitled Introduction to Marketing, targeted at musicians, managers of music venues or groups and music promoters across all mediums and genres at any level of experience. It is presented by Concerts SA and the Arts and Culture Trust under the auspices of the SAMRO Foundation.
            The workshops will be facilitated by cultural practitioner, music researcher and academic, Brett Pyper. Pyper’s broad-based marketing and entrepreneurial knowledge, coupled with his specialised research and experience in the discipline of music, will ensure that participants gain an understanding of the importance of innovative marketing endeavors for the arts.
            With limited space, you have until 21 November to apply via or by contacting Karabo Legoabe on 011 712 8410 or
Yum Yum presents Local Motion at Uber Zulu, 295 Florida Road. The key element to this event is surfboard art created by eight of Durban’s top artists, which goes on display from 6pm at an invite only exhibition opening. This is followed by the Local Motion party from 8pm, which is open to all at a ticket price of R50. Proceeds from the sale of the jazzed up surfboards goes to the Umthombo Street Children charity, which uses surfing as a means to reintegrate abandoned and homeless children into healthy social activities.
            Summer Blues Friday at Live – The Venue, Matthews Meyiwa (Stamford Hill) Road features Bobby and the Dynamites, Gloucester Blues Project and East Coast Basement Blues Band. Music from 7:30pm and entrance is R50. Info on 084 510 3107.
            Carita Mottian Band at Jazzy Rainbow, Smiso Nkwanyana (Goble) Road, Morningside. Doors open 7pm and entrance is R60.
            The Incidentals at Amsterdam Bar, Helen Joseph (Davenport) Road, Glenwood from 8pm, free entrance.
            Charismatic, award-winning chanteuse Danièle Pascal hits the East Coast over the next two weeks with a jam-packed program. The Songs of Edith Piaf is the show at the Rhumbelow Theatre, Cunningham Avenue off Bartle Road, Umbilo from 8pm tonight. Tickets for all Rhumbelow shows (Durban and Pietermaritzberg) listed are R100 and can be booked via Computicket or 082 499 8636 or
The Kickstands at Wahooz on the promenade in front of uShaka Marine World from 12pm, free entrance and dependent on weather conditions.
            Salty Dog at Beach Bums, Casuarina Beach, Westbrook from 1pm. Table bookings on 032 943 1132.
            Sheila Mkhize and her eight-piece band project Sheila Da Blue Note at Rainbow Restaurant, Stanfield Lane, Pinetown on the Concerts SA development program. Free entrance, info on 083 463 8044.
            There is a Roller Derby happening at Hillcrest Primary from around 6pm with the after party heading down to the Winston Pub, Clark Road, Glenwood and kicking off at 9pm. Free entrance if you were at the derby, otherwise R20. Performing are Dirty Royal and Load Shedders.
            Danièle Pascal with The French Affair from 8pm at Rhumbelow Theatre, Umbilo.
The World Day of Remembrance is held on the third Sunday of November to remember those killed in road accidents. Kicking off from 10am on the Imbizo Lawns of Moses Mabhida Stadium you will find the regular I Heart Durban market plus a Bos Ice Tea acoustic music stage hosting John Ellis, Veranda Panda, The Incidentals, Badyn and Iris and the Tokoloshe. Lots of other activities that sound like they will make a good day out for the family, whilst at the same ramming home an anti-drunk driving message.
            Talking of new music platforms, it has taken me a while but I have managed to unravel what Music in the Meadow is all about. Might I give the people behind it a small nudge to consider the marketing workshop coming up? Anyway, Music in the Meadow takes place at Fig Tree Farm, Inanda Road from 3pm. The first ninety minutes is dedicated to the open mic format for aspiring musicians, who have pre-applied, to showcase themselves. This is then followed by a performance from an established artist. The established artist this week is Amy White, co-founder of RBT Music Group and one of the driving forces behind this new stage. There is a nominal fee at the gate to assist with costs. In the event of rain, the event will be postponed to next Sunday.
            Danièle Pascal with the Songs of Edith Piaf from 2pm at the Rhumbelow Theatre, Allan Wilson Shellhole, Allan Paton (Durban) Road, Pietermaritzberg. From 6:30pm she presents The French Affair. Two separate shows.
            Rowan Stuart at Seabrookes Theatre, Durban High School. St. Thomas Road from 6pm. Tickets R50 and bookings on
Danièle Pascal in the French Affair at Alliance Francais de Durban, Sutton Crescent, Morningside. Doors open 6:30pm and tickets R100, with concessions for Alliance members and students. Booking essential on 031 312 9582 or
To celebrate this years’ release of Beaujolais Nouveau there is a special dinner followed by a performance from Danièle Pascal at Alliance Francais. Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine and the most popular “vin de primeur”, fermented for just a few weeks before being released on the third Thursday in November. Thanks to Alliance Francais de Durban we get to participate in this global event. Tickets are R250 and booked on 031 312 9582 or