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Soweto, Gauteng, South Africa | SELF

Soweto, Gauteng, South Africa | SELF
Band R&B Funk




"Funky music from Ancestors"

They are not dressed in traditional African robes, but wearing trendy sunglasses and Mohawks. With their music, straight from their ancestors, BCUC wants to question the situation after the abolishment of Apartheid. Mandela and Tutu are not their heroes. “After seeing our instruments ready on stage, the audience expects traditional African singers with wide robes, not six young funky punks dressed like us”

Jovi Nkosi (33), singer and leader of the South African Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness, in short BCUC, from Soweto, outlines the confusion that the band initially creates. “People need to adjust to our appearance and sound. After one or two tracks they understand what we sing, start to dance and are lured into our secret world”.

In that world everybody wears colored sunglasses, trendy bow ties, afro-Mohawks and the music is hard to categorize. “It is about the drum and the guitar”, Jovi tries to explain. “Those are the basic ingredients of our sound”. But next to that the traditional whistle, the raw combative voice of Jovi, the sweet clear vocals of Kgomotso – the only woman – are central components. As well as rap. They have baptized their unique sound indigenous funky soul.

It is also mainly about the message with BCUC. “With our music we want to rectify a few assumptions and show the South Africa from after apartheid from our perspective”. The World Cup? A hypocritical sham, according to the members of BCUC. Mandela and Tutu heroes? Not for us, they say. Mandela is a millionaire, a shameless fundraiser and Tutu is a spy. “For us they lost all their credibility. Someone like Hector Pieterson, who died without fame during the uprising against the use of Afriikaans in the classroom in 1976, is a hero in our eyes.

Indeed a very different perspective. A young, contemporary and black perspective, according to the band members. That color still matters in South Africa was proved again last week. Four white students were convicted for a racial incident: they forced black employers of their university to consume food and drink over which they urinated.

In the street language ‘Tsotsi’ and in English BCUC discusses in length the harsh reality of South Africa, where especially the unemployed worker forever stays at the bottom of the food chain. The track ‘Mr van der Merwe’ talks about the sorrows of the miners. But also the elusiveness of the spirit world fascinates the musicians. ‘Sebelele’ worships the ancestors. “We believe that our music comes straight from them. Our music is created for us, it is divine. To explain our songs we accompany them with storytelling, especially here in Europe. A performance of BCUC is a journey to the secret, universal ethnical world in which we can all experience a moment of humanity. It is unique experience”.
Jovi, Hloni Maphunye (vocals, flute, harmonica), Luja Ngoepe (bassdrum), Lerato Lichaba (guitar), mr Chix (conga) and Kgomotso Mokone (vocals) do not like false modesty. On a live recording from their performance in the Sugar Factory we hear how Jovi thanks the Amsterdam audience for ‘beholding the miracle that BCUC is’. “We are not arrogant, but self confident. We do not doubt ourselves”, Kgomotso explains.

“We are not modest, but we are humble”, Jovi continues. “The responses we get from our performances are very intense. Especially in the Netherlands. Probably because of the historical connection between the Netherlands and South Africa”. An uncomfortable connection due to apartheid and the language Afrikaans? “No way”, the six say out loud. “That is just another misunderstanding; that we are simply angry at the whites. That is history. Jack Parow, a white South African rapper, rapping in Afrikaans is popular right now in the Netherlands. We think he is cool. Because he is a poor white, who kind of lives in the township just like us. He is proud of where he comes from, just like we are”.

The past months they already performed 26 times in the Netherlands. They are finishing their tour tonight at the Amsterdam Melkweg, which they want to pack. Like a final challenge and task. “We see ourselves as modern freedom fighters who have to tell the story of Soweto’s past, present and future over and over again. Everywhere in the world”.
- Saeda Nourhussen, Trouw (Dutch national newspaper), 31 July 2010, translation by Jorien Waanders

"Funky Jazz from South Africa"

Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness touring through the Netherlands and Belgium

Meanwhile the World Cup takes place in fancy stadiums back home in South Africa, the funky band Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness (BCUC) from Soweto is touring through the Netherlands. They will play at Bevrijdingsfestival Amsterdam, Festival Mundial, Nyama and Afro-Latino. The musicians will not only spread a sound derived from traditional instuments and tight beats but also their opinion on a modern Africa. The image of the pathetic black had better disappear, they think.

BCUC breaks with prejudices about Africa. They express the vision of township entrepreneurs who do not see themselves as poor, but rich in talent and tradition. Nelson Mandela for them is not a hero but a sell-out. Development aid functions not as ‘help’ but as ‘opium for the people’, distracting people from the real cause of all the problems in the country: the issue of land that is still in the hands of the white people and the animals. For BCUC music is a weapon in the fight for freedom (uhuru) for the common man (bantu) in South Africa. A fight that is far from over, according to BCUC.

Typical about BCUC’s music is the innovative blend of rap and chants, storro torro and electric guitar. With minimal instruments, the band creates a passionate contemporary African sound that makes the audience jump and swing, but also think and feel. Before the start of the concert the musicians burn herbs to call upon their ancestors to guide them and the audience through the performance. If BCUC is on stage you feel: this music comes from deep within the heart and soul.

For the third time in a row the band is touring through Europe. The band is an example of do-it-yourself-music-management to fellow musicians. Without being signed to a record label, even without recording a full album and without the money of international development agencies they have managed themselves to tour through Europe. This year on tour they hope to raise enough money through crowdfunding on Africa Unsigned.com for the recording of their debut album. They passed a jury of critical music connoiseurs among which Tony Allen former drummer of Fela Kuti. See AfricaUnsigned.com.

- Mixed World Music Magazine (translation by Jorien Waanders)

"A movement by youth has changed the perception on South African music"

Who said the revolution cannot be televised? A human movement characterised by music, spoken words and fashion has been an aim for Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness (BCUC).

The Afro ethnic band which started in 2003 believes that they were chosen by the hands of time to be the new leaders in fighting for freedom for all. The band members said they retell the future, the present and the past of Soweto through their music. They said stories come from within what the world offers. "We are aspiring role models for the Soweto youth and make music for the soul".

The group's music is firmly rooted in the rhythms of hip hop, but they incorporate ragga and rock. However they also give props to their homeland, adding the sounds from South Africa's many homegrown genres. BCUC's singular mix of groove and spirituality, cutting edge and tradition has already made them one of the eminent bands in Soweto.

The band said its music is branded by traditional instruments, bells, whistles, topped by rap singing and howling voices. “We transform frustrations and daily struggles into positive action”, BCUC said.

BCUC's - Protea Urban News (Sowetan Newspaper), October 16, 2009, by Neria Nhlakotsa


BCUC live at Sugar Factory
1. Amazing grace
2. Mr van der Merwe
3. Sebelele
Release date: June 2010
Label: BCUC

BCUC live in Amsterdam @ 112 Bloemstraat
1. Journey
2 . Man, woman, child
3. Ngihawukele
4. Spiritual train
5. Yithi
Release date: June 2009
Label: BCUC

Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness
1. Radio 11
2. Lefatshe lena
3. Native minds
4. Bantu music
5. Vumani
6. Accoustic news
Release date: 2008
Label: Blazabo Records



"Music is seldom so inspiring and straight from the heart"
- Into The Great Wide Open -

Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness (BCUC) moves the audience – both physically and emotionally with an explosion of passion, funk and rhythm. With their music, straight from the ancestors BCUC wants to question the common worldview on modern Africa.

The basic ingredients of BCUC’s sound are the traditional whistle, percussion and a rocking guitar. Topped by the raw combative voice of Jovi, flowing rap by Luja and Hloni, the sweet and clear vocals of Kgomotso – the only woman in the band – and chants of all four vocals together. They baptized their unique sound as ‘indigenous funky soul’.

BCUC takes the audience along on an intriguing journey to the secret world of modern Africa. They want to rectify western assumptions and show the South Africa from after apartheid from a young, contemporary, different perspective. Mandela and Tutu are not their heroes. Mandela is a millionaire, a shameless fundraiser and Tutu a spy. In eleven languages BCUC discusses the harsh reality of Africa where especially the unemployed worker forever stays at the bottom of the food chain. And also they tap into the elusiveness of the spirit world of ancestors that fascinates them. Africa portrayed by BCUC is not poor at all, but rich in tradition, rituals and believe.

“We see ourselves as modern freedom fighters who have to tell the story of Soweto’s past, present and future to the world”
- Jovi Nkosi, singer of BCUC -

Highlights of BCUC’s musical journey are performances at Gentse Feesten (Belgium), Festival Mundial Tilburg and Melkweg Amsterdam (Netherlands). BCUC was selected as one of the finalists by a panel of Tony Allen (drummer Fela Kuti) and others at AfricaUnsigned.com. Africa Unsigned supports African unsigned musicians to record music funded by fans.

BCUC introduction: http://youtu.be/SOshnfOn3zI