In February 1990 Nelson Mandela was released from prison. For me, it meant I could now travel across the border from my home in Botswana to visit the fantastic country of South Africa. I went many times over the next few years often to Sun City in Bophuthatswana.
Beyond my own minuscule protest, I was not really present to the truth of what was happening until on one visit to Sun City I saw Johnny Clegg perform. I knew a little of his music but not much about him other than he was one of the few white musicians to integrate himself fully into black Africa.
Near the middle of the set, he introduced what he said was a new song called ‘The Crossing’ dedicated to his friend Dudu Ndlovu who was assassinated during the apartheid struggle. It talks about how the spirit crosses over, the spirit of a friend.
I am playing it now and cannot control the sobs for this truth cradles the soul.
Many years later when Johnny Clegg came to Australia I went to see him play in Sydney.
Older and wiser, and now very familiar with his music, I realised that this man was pure of heart and soul, his songs and his presence letting the world know of his love for his fellow man and for Africa, a love that we should all embrace.
Johnny Clegg passed away this week of pancreatic cancer at the age of 66.
My tears are in sadness and memory of a musician and a man that helped me understand part of my own journey.
They are also in thanks for his life and his music that blessed this earth.