Ladysmith Black Mambazo to South Africans: Stop Attacking Immigrants : Goats and Soda There's been a wave of violence against immigrant workers. Now the Grammy-winning singers have joined their voices with Mali's superstar Salif Keita. The message: "United we stand."
NPR logo

Ladysmith Black Mambazo to South Africans: Stop Attacking Immigrants

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/405816922/405816923" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Ladysmith Black Mambazo to South Africans: Stop Attacking Immigrants

Ladysmith Black Mambazo to South Africans: Stop Attacking Immigrants

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/405816922/405816923" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

South Africa is grappling with the fallout from recent violence, a wave of deadly attacks on outsiders - migrants mostly - from other parts of Africa. In an effort to promote peace and harmony, the Grammy Award-winning South African group Ladysmith Black Mambazo has teamed up with Salif Keita, the man known as the golden voice of Mali. They recorded a song to send a message against xenophobia. To learn more, NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton met up with one of the members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UNITED WE STAND")

LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO AND SALIF KEITA: (Singing) United we stand. Divided we shall fall. (Singing in foreign language).

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: Ladysmith Black Mambazo come from KwaZulu-Natal, where the xenophobic violence erupted.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UNITED WE STAND")

LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO AND SALIF KEITA: (Singing) Africa is our home. Make it a better place. (Singing in foreign language) Peace, love and harmony...

QUIST-ARCTON: Distinctive Zulu Isicathamiya rhythms blend with a soaring voice of Mali's Salif Keita with one joint message - peace, love and harmony and an end to xenophobia.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UNITED WE STAND")

LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO AND SALIF KEITA: (Singing in foreign language).

QUIST-ARCTON: The son of the founder of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Sibongiseni Shabalala, says the group has always advocated peace, so it came as a shock when deadly attacks against mainly African immigrants broke out in their own province in South Africa, here in KwaZulu.

SIBONGISENI SHABALALA: We feel very ashamed, especially because we travel all over the world of peace. They come as brothers. But now when this thing happened, it make us feel very bad that our people can do such things to our brothers and sisters from Africa. That's why we have to send this message that we are all Africans. Africa is for us all. South Africa is their country. It's for us all. That's exactly how we were brought up at home. My father always taught us to be respectful, to live in peace with other people, to love other people.

QUIST-ARCTON: Shabalala says...

SHABALALA: If I'm in Nigeria, I must feel at home. If I'm in Zimbabwe, I must feel at home. If people from Nigeria are here, they must feel at home because they are home. We are all human beings. Sometimes you can't control how you feel anger, but you must always control your anger. If there's problems, people must sit down and talk, but fighting, killing each other will never solve the problems. (Singing) United we stand, divided...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UNITED WE STAND")

LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO AND SALIF KEITA: (Singing in foreign language).

QUIST-ARCTON: Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Mali's Salif Keita recorded the new song here in Durban, a city that is home to thousands of African immigrants. Many fled the violence and hundreds of foreign workers still fearful are in a dusty transit camp. Sibongiseni Shabalala says the atmosphere in the recording studio should be an example to everyone.

SHABALALA: You know, it was like this is how people should live together. This is the example. If people could come and see us sitting with our brothers and sisters from Mali, from South Africa, working on a song of peace, trying to send this message that people should stop and think before killing each other.

QUIST-ARCTON: Shabalala sums it up this way.

SHABALALA: Once you start the song, people will listen. If the song has a good message, people can get the message that we should all live in peace. We are all brothers and sisters. Music, when you are sad, it calms you. You sing, it heals you. So united we stand, divided we shall fall. Let's get together - do it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UNITED WE STAND")

LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO AND SALIF KEITA: (Singing in foreign language).

QUIST-ARCTON: Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Durban.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UNITED WE STAND")

LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO AND SALIF KEITA: (Singing in foreign language).

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.