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Wednesday November 26, 2014
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Anti-apartheid Legend

 

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formed a band, Juluka ("Sweat"), and released an album, Universal Men, describing the multiple worlds experienced by a Zulu migrant worker. Under South Africa's apartheid laws, public performances by mixed-race ensembles were illegal. The band was shunned by radio and harassed by police, but its music spread by word of mouth.

Clegg and Juluka, and later his second band, Savuka, gained a hearing in the U.S. during the heyday of the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s. "Scatterlings of Africa," perhaps Clegg's best-known composition, dates from that period. It's as profound as it is insanely catchy, with a lyric that moves from enslaved and refugee Africans to the roots of all humanity on the African continent, intoning a hopeful "African idea, make the future clear." Some of his songs were openly political and resulted several times in his arrest; he called in song for the release of the imprisoned Nelson Mandela, who later appeared with him on stage.

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