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Backed by silky synthisizers and downtempo electronic beats, South African singer Msaki’s new album recalls the 2012 massacre of dozens of striking mine workers that she says inspired her to protest against social injustice.
Singing in her Xhosa mother tongue, Msaki’s lilting voice aims to capture the sadness and disappointment felt after the 2015 showdown between police and strikers at the Marikana platinum mine. Forty four people were killed there in the most violent police crackdown since the end of white minority rule.
Her Afropop album ‘Platinumb Heart Beating’ was released at the end of last year. The title is a play on words, referring to South Africa’s platinum belt but also to “the emotional state of numbness” that many felt after such witnessing police brutality, she said.
“The first song I wrote was ‘Blood, Guns and Revolutions’ which was about Marikana and the Platinum Belt,” she told Reuters TV in an interview. “It seemed fitting. That was the moment that got me moving to make an album of protest.”
Among those killed in the so called ‘Marikana massacre’ were 34 miners whom police shot dead. For many South Africans, it seemed to dash hopes that the violent repression of protests had been relegated to their ugly apartheid past.
Msaki’s songs also feature some household names in South Africa’s dance music scene, including DJ Black Coffee, Kabza De Small and rapper Focalistic.