Swart September -Koos Kombuis
In South Africa September is usually a pretty good month weatherwise. Things are beginning to cheer up again after the winter. It may still be a little too cold to jump in the pool on the 1st of the month, but certainly by the time October comes you welcome the cool water. So why does Koos sing of a black Sepember?
Well its about a particular Sepember, September 1984, a time a huge upheaval in the country with bombs going off and riots in the Vaal Triangle during which some people believed to be police spies are burnt alive. It is also the month when the position of Prime Minister was abolished and P.W. Botha was inaugurated as the first State President. So, yes, it was a black time in the nation’s history.
And when Koos was singing about it on his 1989 album, Niemandsland’, things hadn’t got much better. It was this sot of awareness of what was happening in the country and the way that he could translate it into biting lyrics and dramatic songs that really put Koos on the map. ‘Swart September is a dramatic piano driven piece that underpins the lyrics that talk of the troubles in the townships, pass laws, necklacing, and police actions. It gets to the heart of what was happening then – ‘Groot masjiene oor die land, September ’84 wat oorkook in ‘n noodtoestand ‘n lente bleek en dor’.
Yes we’ve moved on since then and ‘Swart September’ is still difficult listening, but it is part of our history, it is part of what made South Africa and still stands as great document of what we went through.
Where to find it:
Niemandsland – Koos Kombuis (1990), Shifty Records
Shot Down (Resistance Music from Apartheid South Africa) – Various Artists (2006),Shifty Records