Mayibuye - The Spear of the Nation



The spear of the nation
by Mayibuye

The system of apartheid is a crime against humanity.

Apartheid is nothing more than a shameless system of oppression and exploitation. The white minority defends its privileged position by means of truncheons, bullets and torture. The non-violent resistance of the blacks to apartheid has always been answered by the whites with harsh laws, heavy penalties and violent action by police and army. This resistance to the apartheid regime has been led by the African National Congress of South Africa (ANC) since 1912; in 1955 their Freedom Charter called for the end to apartheid and its replacement with a non-racial democratic society. After the massacre at Sharpeville in 1960, the ANC was banned, but continued its work underground.

Having exhausted all avenues of peaceful protest, the ANC launched in 1961 its military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe, the Spear of the Nation. In 1976 a widespread uprising followed the June 16 Soweto massacre of black school children and students demonstrating against apartheid.

The oppressive laws became even harsher, the penalties still heavier and the police still more trigger-happy.

And on 19 October 1977, the only remaining legal organisations of the voteless black people were banned. On that day, the ANC declared: "Today's events have once again vindicated the line of action chartered by the ANC and its allies in the grim years of repression since the organisation was banned in 1960.

In South Africa today, there is no road to freedom exept the armed road. The patch of non-violence and negotiation has been shut, not by us, but by Vorster and his police torturers and executioners' Mayibuye, the poetry- and musical collective of the ANC, gives artistic voice to the fight against apartheid. Their confident expectation is for a liberated future. Because no matter how fierce the struggle will be: the outcome is clear; apartheid will disappear and justice will inevitably prevail within the foreseeable future in South Africa.

Mayibuye i Africa! Come back Africa!

Song 1.
Mandela Mandela

narrator: For over 60 years the African National Congress of South Africa has been leading the people and mobilising them for struggle against oppression.
It is a great privilege for us to extend friendship and greetings to the international solidarity forces support we so greatly value in our struggle against Apartheid, colonialism and imperialism. Our songs and poems have grown out of this struggle and express our determination to win our freedom.


Dedicated to Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela
the ANC leader serving life imprisonment on
Robben Island.
'Mandela Mandela
Mandela says fight for freedom
Mandela says freedom now
All we say is away with slavery
In our land of Africa.

Rolihlahla Mandela
Freedom is in your hands
Show us now the way to freedom
In our land of Africa.'

narrator: Our proud tradition of struggle is reflected in this song first sung in the fifties during the Defiance Campaign. It says "we are the followers of Luthuli, the jails are full, they show that we struggle for freedom".

Song 2.
(Xhosa) Vuyusile Mini

"We shall follow him". This song is one of those sung during the Defiance Campaign of 1952: The jails are full, they show that we struggle for our freedom'. It assures successive ANC leaders like Luthuli, Mandela and Tambo of the constant support of their followers. Its composer Vuyusile Mini was executed by the fascist regime on 6 November 1964.

narrator: Many of our revolutionary songs were composed by Vuyusile Mini a trade unionist and ANC leader who had a magnificent bass voice. In 1964 he and two of his cbmrades were hanged by Verwoerd's government on trumped-up charges.

Poem 1.
A Poem of Vengeance

Big strong smiling Mini
and Khayinga and Mkaba who loved life
no less, have been robbed
of their most precious possession,

Our comrades fell
in Verwoerd's Pretoria
bitten in the neck
by the hangman's knot.

Have you seen life slipping away?
I once saw my mother die
on the sharp sand at Sharpeville.

I hear Babla my brother cry
and his body hitting concrete
one hundred feet down
from the interrogator's window.

Have you seen the face of a man being beaten up?
In prison
when you hear the noise
your heart-beats race.

But worst of all
is the sigh
or shriek
or cough
or nothing
just escaping air
as life slips away.

How did Mini and my brothers die
in that secret hanging place?
You may ask - please let me tell you -
I know.

Singing? Yes - but how they sing!
Big firm Mini
not smiling on this day
a smile at the lips perhaps
but the eyes grim
always grim
when facing the enemy.

Heads high they walk
strong united together
singing Mini's own song
'Naants' indod' emnyama Verwoerd'
- Watch out Verwoerd the black man will get you
'Watch out Verwoerd'
the people have taken up this song
'Watch out Verwoerd'
the world sings with Mini.

And meeting Death
in their front-line trench
the three heroes shout
into the grey teeth of the enemy
'We shall be avenged'
and the people take up the shout
'Our heroes shall be avenged.'

It is vengeance we want
as the last precious gasps
escape into the Pretoria air.

Song 3.
Naants' Indod' e Mnyama
(Xhosa) Vuyusile Mini

'Beware! Verwoerd/Vorster,
Behold the advancing black masses'
This song was sung by its composer and his two comrades while on the gallows. Mini uses the Afrikaans phrase 'pas op'! (beware!) in this song as well as in Song 11.

narrator: As our struggle has intensified so has the savagery of the regime increased. At least 46 political detainees have died during interrogation by the Secret Police. This poem is dedicated to Joseph Mkhuthusi Mdluli, an ANC veteran, brutally murdered by his interrogators in March 1976.

Poem 2.
Death of a Militant
(A.N.C. Kumalo)

He was a broad, powerfully-made man
hard and tough as the baked earth
burning with love for his country.

He was a militant, tireless and fearless
who to the cheers of a freedom rally
pursued with war-cry and fighting sticks
a police dog and its brute handler
the length of Beatrice Street, Durban
a decade and a half ago.

He wore the volunteers uniform
soldiered through the Defiance Campaign
broke rock in prison quarries
and at the age of fifty
refused to set-aside the punishing load.

They dragged him away
in raincoat and slippers
gentle Lydia trembling on the doorstep;
by morning his life was over.

He was of the rank-and-file
and there were two thousand and his funeral.

With the sound of their singing
rising through the sombre mists
we call to the widow
stooped over the corpse
and we vow:
He shall be avenged!

To the children
limp beside the coffin
we vow:
He shall be avenged!

To his comrades
caged in prison
we vow:
He shall be avenged!

To the people
chained but unbroken
we vow:
He shall be avenged!

To the brutes
who battered his body
we vow:
He shade be avenged!

And to their masters
bestriding our birthright
we vow:
He shall be avenged!

In the name of Mini, Ngudle, Saloojee
By the deeds of Patrick, Michael, Basil
and yesterday Reggie
who fell on the fields of Zimbabwe
we vow:
He shall be avenged!

And we raise the flag of
black, green and gold
colours smeared red with
the blood of our fallen
colours running red with
the blood of Mkhuthuzi
we vow:
He shall be avenged!

narrator: On 16 June 1976 racist police murdered hundreds of demonstrating schoolchildren, students and workers at Soweto.
A nationwide uprising followed in which hundreds more were slaughtered and maimed by Vorster's gun-men.

Poem 3.
Where No Seed Bore Fruit Before
(Barry Feinberg)

In an authorised ghetto
well-known as Soweto
mine-dust blots
a million dreams;
which clung to gold
deface the sun
undermine the eyes
make sweat speak
of idle metal;
shade is nowhere
shadows dimly seen
life and expectation
appear only as illusion;
chained to the sky
the aged horizon
shudders through
a veil of grit

Staggering this haze
like an animated oasis
a light brigade
of freedom's apprentices
- all eyes on rapid fire -
advances with steady
but adolescent stride
throwing fists
striking banners
no slaves to afrikaans!
(or to any usurper
for that matter).

A bite at the tongue
of the tyrant

With shriek and roar
the saracens encircle
armoured hides
greased and gleaming
sabre horns
keen to dismember

And blood raced
where no water ran before

The enraged and undernourished
stand their ground
stave off the metal herd
with fragile crack of
wood and rebounded stone off steel

And blood raced
where no water ran before

An orgy of goring
opened fountains onto sand
and blood raced
where no water ran before
opened craters in rebel children
and blood races
where no water ran before
opened canyons in bold mothers
sank mines in proud fathers
emptied their histories
into ditches and dongas
and blood raced
where no water ran before
and blood raced
where no water ran before
And seeks take root
where no seed bore fruit before.

Song 4.
Unzima Lomthwalo
(Zulu) Reverend Calata

'The burden of oppression is heavy, dedicated and selfless people are needed, prison and death will not deter us, we will continue to struggle until we have won our freedom'.

narrator: Our song says "the burden of oppression is heavy, men and women are needed, prison and death will not deter us, we will continue to struggle until we have won our freedom.


narrator: The people responded to the massacres with the slogan "mobilise don't mourn!" Massive strike action brought the Apartheid state to a standstill.

This song was sung by the people as they faced the bullets of the police and soldiers. It says "don't be afraid, go forward, we are not far from freedom".

Song 5.

Cowards are now hesitating and saying its better to retreat —
Heroes will be even more militant, for freedom is in Sight'.
The sound of guns could not drown the sound of this song which was sung from Soweto to Gugulethu during the 1976 uprising. It typifies the spirit of courage and militancy of the present phase of the struggle.

Poem 4
Standing armed on our own ground
(Barry Feinberg)

Remember the agony years
(will they ever pass?)
tears and blood like rain
(but we are still bleeding!)
This deluge dampened our fathers,
diluted our mothers' milk,
rendered tepid the heat of young sons.

The land waxed fat on plunder,
investors reaped thick harvest:
a thieves rule keyed to chains.
Man-bone hewn for paving stone
the marrow served as mortar,
man-sweat grew concrete towers
and muscle nourished millionaires.

Now looking back becalmed
piercing with sharp black eyes,
standing armed on our own ground
firm on our feet of steel,
we assess both cause and toll
and cost the sacred path
from casualty to liberty.

narrator: The peoples patience is not endless. The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only 2 choices-submit or fight. That time has now come in South Africa. That challenge was laid down by the ANC on the foundation of its armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe, which means the Spear of the Nation. And this is Umkhonto's song - a song of battle.

Song 6.
Hamba Kahle Mkhonto

'Go well Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation) We Umkhonto cadres are prepared to kill the Boers'.
This song was sung during the Zimbabwe campaign of 1967-8 when an Umkhonto unit ('Luthuli's detachment') alongside a ZAPU unit fought racist troops and inflicted heavy casualties.

narrator: The armed struggle will take root in South Africa soil!
The enemy's strength is not underestimated but neither is he invincible! The example of Algeria, Vietnam, Mozambique and Angola have shown the possibilities of defeating powerful military regimes. What counts is the determination to struggle of a united and armed people until final victory is secured.
Our song says that the sound of gunfire is already being heard. Vorster and Kruger will be shot down.

Song 7.
Sizakuba Dubula
(Xhosa) Vuyusile Mini

'We shall shoot them with rocket launchers
They shall flee -
Shoot them with rocket launchers!'
This song is being sung all over South Africa
at the present time.

Poem 5.
In Memory of a Warrior
(Maxie Rodgers Lechuba)

Son of Africa,
you have gone to the ages.
Carry the message of the times
- that we are still on the journey.
Move on the roaring thunder of our feet.
Tell the sounds of gallantry armed with faith.

To this unknown future,
the journey is long.
And it warns of its agony
- yet the call beckons.
We will move (fury tells on our minds)
to this, the battle cry.

Warrior, not long
you were amongst the counted.
Today you lie,
cold in body but true to the spirit of
all our yearnings
- Freedom in our lifetime.
Brave son of Africa, faithful to the
spirit of the times
- Freedom in our lifetime -
you are still amongst the counted.
It will not be in vain.

Rest your bones, warrior,
with this message:
It will not be in vain.

narrator: That poem is a memorial to Stanley Molefe and other Umkhonto soldiers who were killed in the Zimbabwe campaign of 1967/1968 when ANC soldiers joined with their ZAPU brothers against the combined forces of Smith and Forster.
This song commemorates that campaign where Umkhonto used bazookas to wipe out the enemy.


Song 8.
E Rile
(Sotho & Xhosa)

'Going back to South Africa they (Umkhonto cadres) first passed through Mozambique, then advanced to Zimbabwe where they took the enemy by surprise with bazookas. The same method shall be used to kill Vorster.' The first part of the song is in Sotho and the last part in Xhosa.

narrator: The US and its Common Market allies are desperately trying to preserve Southern Africa for Imperialism. With the collapse of Portuguese colonialism one of their tactics is to search for collaborators among the Black people. The Bantustans and their puppet leaders have been exposed to the world as a fraud. This song is about Mathanzima "a murderer, and traitor to the people of Africa".

Song 9.
Wena Mathanzima

This song denounces Mathanzima the puppet leader of the Transkei Bantustan as a murderer and a traitor to the African people. The song stresses that hope for the future lies in the armed struggle spearheaded by Umkhonto.

narrator: In the wake of the Soweto uprising an ANC leaflet was distributed by leaflet bombs in the major city centres of South Africa. The leaflet included the following declaration: "We shall harras the enemy, his police,, soldiers, officials and spies wherever we can. Above all we shall arm ourselves with modern weapons and hit back through our organised fighting force UMKHONTO WE SIZWE!

These racist murderers who slaughter unarmed children and women, fled in panic when they came face to face with the armed freedom fighters of UMKHONTO in Zimbabwe in 1967 and 1968.
Their racist arrogance shrank when our MPLA comrades thrashed them in Angola. And now the time is coming when UMKHONTO will punish the racists on our own soil. The mass struggle of our people helps to bring that day nearer!

These are not empty phrases. Since the leaflet a number of sabotage and guerilla actions have indeed taken place within South Africa.

Our song calls on our people to rise up and fight for our country: "We will destroy Smith and Vorster with grenades and bazookas".

Song 10.
Abantu Bakithi

'Our people are poverty stricken
Rise up and fight for our country
Throw grenades and fire bazookas
to defeat both Smith and Vorster'

This song was first sung by the people during the uprising of 1976.

Poem 6.
Flight of the Spear
(A.N.C. Kumalo)

Let all behold
the fiery trajectory
of the spear of our ancestors:
the unswerving course
dissecting the fermament.

Let all behold
the flight of the spear
piercing the night-time mind
of generations;
the gleaming spring
of our progenitors
illuminating the heavens.

Let all behold
the spear in flight;
the singing metal
cast from the mould
of our red earth;
the great shaft
fashioned from the trees
of our timeless forests.

Let all behold
the fearless truth;
the spear of the nation
the flash of lightning
heralding the atmosphere

Inheritors of the land;
you black ones;
Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa, Shangaan;
seize the spear!

Seize the spear
sons and daughters of giants;
off-spring of Shaka, Makana,
Moshoeshoe, Sekhukhuni;
seize the spear
that wings out of the mists
of our exultant dawn!

Seize the spear
that can only be grasped
when the blood is united!

Seize the spear
that can only strike pure
when the mind is as sharp and firm
as the cutting blade!

Seize the spear that can only coot
when we are masters
in our own house!

Seize the spear
that can only sleep
when our planet is reborn!

Seize the spear
O people, who are giants
of this new age.

narrator: The message to Vorster, Smith and to imperialism is clear: Izakunyatheli Africa! Africa will trample you underfoot!

Song 11.
Izakunyathel' I Africa
(Xhosa) Vuyusile Mini

'Africa will trample you underfoot Vorster, beware!

Poem 7.
Today in Prison
(Dennis Brutus)

Today in prison
by tacit agreement
they will sing just one song:
Nkosi Sikelela;
slowly and solemnly
with suppressed passion
and pent up feeling:
the voices strong and steady
but with tears close and sharp
behind the eyes
and the mind ranging
wildly as a strayed bird
seeking some names to settle on
and deeds being done
and those who do the much
that still needs to be done.

Song 12.
Nkosi Sikelel 'I Africa
(Xhosa & Sotho) Enoch Sontonga

'Lord bless Africa
Exalted be its fame
Hear our prayers
Lord grant us thy blessing

Come spirit
Come spirit come
Come spirit come

Come, holy spirit
And bless us, her children'

The national anthem of the ANC, which was composed as a hymn, has spread to many parts of Africa and has become the national anthem in several African states. The first part is sung in Xhosa; it is then repeated in Sotho.

narrator: Long live solidarity with the Namibians, Zimbabweans, Chileans and Palestinians and with all people struggling against oppression!

Long live sollidarity with all progressive forces!

Long live internationalism!

Amandla Ngawethu!

Mayibuye Africa!


Distributed by:
African National Congress,
28 Pentonstreet, London N 1,
and all other offices of A.N.C.

Photos: Roland Sweering

Grafische redaktie VARA

Recording Engineers:
Ruud Klein and Bert van Dijk.



recorded 1978c
issued 1978
made in Netherlands
ET 44
matrix A 1135005-1-4
matrix B 1135006-1-4
33 rpm
first issue
cover images by Roland Sweering
cover design by Grafische Redaktie VARA
source: flatinternational Archive






(Vuyusile Mini)

1.3A Poem of Vengence

(ANC Kumalo)

1.4Naants' Indod 'E Mnyama

(Vuyusile Mini)

1.5Death of a Militant

(ANC Kumalo)

1.6Where No Seen Bore Fruit Before

(Barry Feinberg)

1.7Unzima Lomthwalo

(Rev. Calata)



1.9Standing Armed on Our Ground

(Barry Feinberg)

1.10Hamba Kahle Mkonto


2.11Sizakuba Dubula

(Vuyusile Mini)

2.12In Memory of a Warrior

(Maxie Rodgers Lechuba)

2.13E Rile


2.14Wena Mathanzima


2.15Abantu Bakithi


2.16Flight of the Spear

(ANC Kumalo)

2.17Izakunyathel' I Africa

(Vuyusile Mini)

2.18Today in Prison

(Dennis Brutus)

2.19Nkosi Sikelelel' I Africa

(Enoch Sontonga)






* It should be mentioned that some lyrics featured in these songs as well as others not included on this album have become quite contentious in current debates in contemporary South Africa. Most notably "kill the Whites" and "kill the Boer" have drawn legal action maintaining that, although historic, they are unconstitutional and should be banned.

Shirli Gilbert decribes Mayibuye as a "London-based ANC grouping that achieved considerable success in Europe with its agitprop performances incorporating narrative, poetry and song. Mayibuye was established in early 1975, and despite its rapidly shifting and amateur membership, functioned successfully for approximately five years, raising international awareness about the anti-apartheid cause, and simultaneously raising consciousness within the movement about the practical ways in which cultural activity could further the project of national liberation."

The group was formed in January 1975 when ANC activists Barry Feinberg and Ronnie Kasrils approached, John Matshikiza (son of Todd Matshikiza and who was studying drama in London) and Billy Nannan (former member of the SA Indian Congress) about the project. Over the next five years key participants in the group included Godfrey Motsepe, Zarina Chiba, Melody Mancube, James Madhlope Phillips, Pallo Jordan, Bongi Dhlomo, Poppy Nokwe and others.

For more about Mayibuye and Amandla, another ANC anti-apartheid cultural group, check out Shirli Gilbert's excellent essay "Singing Against Apartheid - ANC Cultural Groups and the International Anti-Apartheid Struggle" in COMPOSING APARTHEID, edited by Grant Olwage.

Also check out Barry Feinberg's account of his experience with Mayibuye in his book A Time to Tell. Many thanks to Mike Pentelow for this reference. From that source we were able to able to identify all the artists involved. From left to right on the front cover: Zarina Chiba, Barry Feinberg, Jackie Maimane, Mandla Lubanga, Bongi Dhlomo, James Philips, Godfrey Motsepe, Simangela Mathabula, Wilson Nqose and Sobuzana Ngqakane.

View the 1982 Russian issued album by Amandla here.

The Mayibuye LP was also issued in Dutch as Die Speer van het Volk (ET 44) by the Dutch broadcasting organisation VARA.