1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Just another music list

Prisoner – Lucky Dube

Prisoner - Lucky Dube

Prisoner – Lucky Dube

This is the story of a little boy whose father told him that education is the key, yet he knew better and ended up in jail. And he calls himself Lucky? Well of course he can call himself Lucky as he became a massive reggae star, known and loved throughout the continent and beyond.

I don’t know how much of his musical skills he learned in school, but they certainly put in him good stead as he crafted songs like ‘Prisoner’ with challenging lyrics and a Jamaica meets the townships lilting tune that is simultaneously uplifting and yet somehow slightly sad. This was 1989, in the twilight hours of apartheid. Black people in South Africa were tasting freedom, yet Lucky Dube decided to sing about being a prisoner so its hard to imagine that this song was not a reference to the suffering under apartheid, yet it could quite easily have been. However, it could also have been a message for the future, saying to the generations to come, that education is the key, you get nowhere without it.

The song would reach number 7 of the Radio 702 charts and 12 on the Capital 604 ones which was quite unusual as Dube was largely ignored by the white radio stations back then. However, ‘Prisoner’ remains as relevant today as it was back then. Despite running out of luck when he was murdered in 2007, the messages of Lucky live on in in his songs.

Where to find it:
Great South African Performers – Lucky Dube (2011), Gallo, CDPS16

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