Censorship in apartheid South Africa: Documentary and school material


18 May 2005

Censorship in apartheid South Africa:
Documentary and school material

Freemuse, in conjunction with Cutting Grooves and the Rhodes University Department of Sociology is organizing a music and human rights project with school children in Grahamstown, South Africa

The project revolves around a film documentary and two publications, all of which are Freemuse initiatives. The film is ‘Stopping the Music’: a story of music censorship in apartheid South Africa, while the publications are a ZAPP magazine special edition on music, censorship and human rights and a 20-page student guide to ‘Stopping the Music’.

Michael Drewett produced, researched and co-scripted the ‘Stopping the Music’ film and has now written a 20 page guide to the film for scholars, as well an 8-page teachers’ guide. The materials will be used to explore issues concerning music and human rights. This will take place during a workshop on the 28th May 2005 at Nombulelo Secondary School, a township school in Grahamstown. Scholars from three other schools in Grahamstown will also attend the workshop.

Facing up to one’s past
The 50-minute documentary film ‘Stopping the Music’ is about a protest singer Roger Lucey and Paul Erasmus, the security policeman assigned to end his career. Through the songs he wrote, South African protest singer Roger Lucey challenged the injustices of the racist system of South African apartheid in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

20 years later, he is confronted face to face with the security branch policeman who teargassed the club where he performed and who was assigned to end Lucey’s career.

It is ultimately a story of reconciliation in a country once torn apart by severe racial and ideological conflict. In a country where a Truth and Reconciliation Commission assisted a traumatic process of exploring its dark past and attempting reconciliation, the meeting between Erasmus and Lucey offers an insight into the cathartic process of facing up to one’s past.

The ‘Stopping the Music’ DVD and the accompanying guides have been produced by Cutting Grooves – which is a non-governmental organization based in Grahamstown in South Africa – in conjunction with Freemuse. Cutting Grooves both archives material relating to the censorship of popular music during apartheid and undertakes educational projects which inform South Africans and others about the politics of South Africa’s musical past.

Scholars’ and teachers’ guides
The project now takes the ‘Stopping the Music’ film into South African schools, and in order to do so effectively, the scholars’ guide and teachers’ manual have been produced to assist the educational process. It tells the how the film was produced, explains the reasons for banning music, and also contains exercises and notes on the lyrics of Roger Lucey.

Staff and particularly the students from the Rhodes University Department of Sociology are collaborating on this project, both working with scholars, observing the classroom situations, undertaking evaluation and doing additional research on the censorship of popular music during the apartheid era. In addition Roger Lucey and Paul Erasmus will come to Grahamstown to conduct a workshop, and Roger will perform some of his music.

Not only will this exercise educate scholars about their cultural history, we hope it will also be an exciting participatory and multimedia exercise which allows scholars to actively experience the enjoyable challenge of historical research.

Freemuse is funding the entire project. When a report is written about the school project, we will include sections of it on this webpage.
Michael Drewett has extra copies of most of the material, so if you wish to get hold of a sample copy, send him an e-mail . He will not be able to deal with bulk requests, though - ie. enough for a class or a school - without additional funding.

ZAPP magazine on censorship

In October 2008 the US radio show Soundprint featured a documentary by Judfith Kampner featuring Roger Lucey and Paul Erasmus. Listen to the documentary 'Tuning into the Enemy'

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The DVD with the 50-minutes documentary film

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The student guide

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The tearcher's guide

Michael Drewett

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'Stopping the Music' School Workshop in South Africa

On Saturday 28 May, 2005, former anti-apartheid protest singer and the cop who assigned to end his career took part in a schools workshop in Grahamstown.

They were there as part of an educational project funded by the international Human Rights Organisation Freemuse, and co-ordinated by Michael Drewett of the Rhodes University Sociology Department.

In 2002 Freemuse funded the film ‘Stopping the Music’ which tells the story of Roger Lucey and Paul Erasmus, and brought them together for the first time. The historic meeting formed a sort of Truth and Reconciliation process between the two men.

They were invited to Grahamstown to participate in a workshop for Grahamstown scholars, held at Nombulelo Secondary School. The workshop included background talks on music censorship, a small exhibition of Sociology 3 research projects on apartheid music censorship (also funded by Freemuse), the showing of ‘Stopping the Music’ and the chance for scholars to ask Roger and Paul questions about their experience. Roger also performed three of his songs, and scholars were given the opportunity to win fun music prizes. Including copies of the film and Roger’s music.

The workshop was a great success. Paul and Roger both found it a meaningful experience, as did Michael Drewett and the 3rd year Rhodes University Sociology Students who helped with facilitating the workshop. The students also conducted interviews with the students, and a questionnaire was conducted about the scholars’ perceptions of the Freemuse and ZAPP Magazine ‘Don’t Stop the Music’ special edition and the Freemuse-sponsored ‘Stopping the Music’ Scholars’ Guide, written by Michael Drewett. A report on the workshop and the findings of the research will be completed by the end of August 2005.

Michael Drewett in Sweden

On Saturday 18 June, 2005, Michael Drewett presented the film 'Stopping the Music' on Världskulturmuseet in Göteborg, Sweden. 
Read the abstract

After the showing of ‘Stopping the Music’ on 28 May, 2005, scholars at the workshop had the opportunity to ask Paul and Roger questions.

Download this Word-document for a print-friendly version of:
1. Session with scholars, questions and answers
2. Interview with Paul Erasmus
3. Interview with Roger Lucey

"...The Government’s response was to become terrorists ourselves and solve problems without going through courts and going through the whole legal process and having this in the papers. So what actually happened is a secret war took place in this country..."
Paul Erasmus

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Read more:

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