Punk in Africa

Punk in Africa

Punk in Africa

directed by Keith Jones Deon Maas

MVD Visual

No matter how you slice or dice it, no matter how much reggae or ska you sprinkle in the mix, punk rock is a white man’s gig. This documentary takes a look at the punk scene that sprung up in South Africa shortly after the British punks took over the late ’70s. Their influences were a hybrid of the local native music, the sounds of India and rare import 45’s. Apartheid was still in force as colonialism hung on to a rapidly shrinking ship, and like all times and all places, there was a disaffected youth ready to do something, anything, to defeat boredom. Defeating apartheid was as good a cause as any and while punk rock was a small force in its dissolution, it WAS on the right side of history.

Perhaps you’ve never heard of these bands: “suck” or “The Safari Suits” or “Screaming Foetus” but they were the headliners. Archival footage and present day interviews show a scene not unlike DC or Milwaukee or Portland: there were motivated skilled people who “got” the deal but resided in the obscurity of so many lost bands. Middle aged men now take us on a tour of clubs that are no more in places that went from creepy to gentrified; their baldness and white beards are signs of survival, not revolution. The footage is fun, but females and blacks are rare to non-existent and the message here is pure nostalgia. The scene has died away, the walls between black and white are partially down but at least no longer entrenched in law. And while this film claims to cover bands in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, the last two countries are mere afterthoughts.

The punk movement galvanized the youth of the ’70s, it was political, exciting, and technical skill was unnecessary. These bands are competent, yet none of them jump out sonically. As musicians, they are dedicated, committed, and likeable, and you can’t say they weren’t a positive force in the necessary social changes in South Africa. Did you miss any truly great bands? Maybe, but punk wasn’t about being great. It was about getting out and DOING it, and these guys DID it. They got beat up, arrested, drunk, high, and laid. Did you?

Punk in Africa: www.punkinafrica.com • MVD Video: mvdb2b.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Sweet Crude
    Sweet Crude

    Sweet Crude brought a bit of New Orleans to Tampa. Bob Pomeroy catches up with the group.

  • Butch Walker
    Butch Walker

    Stay Gold (Dangerbird Records). Review by Andrew Ellis.

  • Belly
    Belly

    Belly brought lot of grit and a touch of grace to the Bowery Ballroom in NYC.

  • Pickathon 2016
    Pickathon 2016

    Pendarvis Farms transforms for three extraordinary days into the fun and psychedelic fest of your wildest indie music loving dreams, Pickathon. Alexa Harris was there to experience the joys of farm life for the weekend.

  • Money Chicha
    Money Chicha

    Echo En Mexico (Vampisoul). Review by James Mann.

  • Micronotz reissues
    Micronotz reissues

    Mortal Micronotz, Smash, Live, The Beast that Devoured Itself, 40 Fingers (Bar/None). Review by Scott Adams.

  • Big Eyes
    Big Eyes

    Stake My Claim (Don Giovanni Records). Review by Jen Cray.

  • Various Artists
    Various Artists

    Money Maker (Studio One). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Pawns
    Pawns

    A triple bill of underground Goth, led by NYC’s Pawns, transforms Uncle Lou’s into a time machine. Jen Cray did not wear eye makeup, but she did wear a black shirt to the show.

  • Bossacucanova
    Bossacucanova

    The Best of Bossacucanova (Six Degrees Records). Review by James Mann.

From the Archives