JJazz Against Apartheid was conceived by Jürgen Leinhos and Kultur im Ghetto as a multi-media and a cultural programme and was created in 1986 in cooperation with the exile musician Johnny Dyani in Frankfurt/M. Jazz Against Apartheid is a testimony to the passionate struggle against apartheid, a biography of a life in exile and a complete documentation of 25 years of exile history.
Although Dyani died shortly after the inaugural event in 1986, Leinhos has preserved this treasure for South Africans with roughly 100 Concerts, Poetry recitals, Workshops, Exhibitions and Symposia in Germany, Switzerland and the USA presenting the music of Johnny Mbizo Dyani.
Leinhos’s life’s work was recognised in South Africa with the prestigious OR Tambo presidential award (2021) which triggered the return of the political and cultural achievements of exiled South African jazz musicians together with the supportive creative and collaborative German jazz musicians to South Africa for the first time in 2022.
“Our concern was and is to save this art of exile from oblivion with the music of Johnny Dyani. In our project “Jazz against Apartheid” we therefore also see a key for the cultural memory of South Africa. And we are convinced: the life works of Johnny Dyani, Chris McGregor, Neville Alexander (pedagogy of liberation), Jürgen Schadeberg (photography), Ben Khumalo (Bible translations in 10 languages) and Vusi Mchunu (poetry) deserve to be heard everywhere in the world – not least by the citizens of South Africa.” Jürgen Leinhos
Mr Jürgen Leinhos, a now 82-year old German, and the Frankfurt-based initiative „Kultur im Ghetto” (Culture in the Ghetto), brought the Jazz Against Apartheid concert series to life in 1986 in cooperation with the South African composer, bandleader, bassist and composer, Johnny Mbizo Dyani, who tragically passed on in the same year.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has bestowed the Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in silver in 2021 on Mr Leinhos for his commitment and determination against apartheid and for standing by the oppressed and fighting for their cause as an anti-apartheid activist. The award was accepted at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House, on Mr Leinhos’ behalf by the South African poet and director Mr Vusi Mchunu, who spent many years in exile in Germany.
“I studied, lived and was culturally active in the German anti-Apartheid Movement, whilst in exile in Berlin. As a writer, a poet, Herr Juergen Leinhos invited me to participate in a number of Jazz Against Apartheid concerts, moreso the workshops where I rendered poetry and shared information on the dire situation in our country then. For South African Jazz musicians based in Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, the U.K. and Denmark, these concerts were always a highlight of the year, and an opportunity to contribute in the solidarity work.” Vusi Mchunu
A discussion with Juergen Leinhos
Neville Alexander, South African political scientist, said to Juergen, “Don’t be astonished if what will happen in South Africa, will be more or less the same, as what happened in Germany, that the ones who are went into exile are not welcome when they come home to their own countries.
This is an experience that German intellectual artists had when they had to leave, Nazi Germany during the Nazi period. When they returned, they were looked upon with suspicion or outright rejection. The quote “to return or to stay,” is a quote by a German author called Klaus Mann, he is the son of Thomas Mann. Jazz Against Apartheid changed this to say between returning and staying in exile. It’s that situation in-between. You’re not quite home at home. You’re in an existence in-between because of the experiences of the people in exile.
As Jürgen Leinhos explained, “If conditions are bad, for people, if the political conditions are awful, it’s usually the best people who leave a country and who have their works, done not in the country they live. It’s that people who go into exile, very often create marvellous works in exile in those conditions under exile. It was not just musicians, not just artists, also political people like Neville Alexander. Under the conditions of exile they do create wonderful works. And they teach us to listen. And this is why they’re so very helpful and fruitful for our society as well, for the society in which exiles live.”
This was part of the special mission of Jazz Against Apartheid, Jürgen Leinhos and his Frankfurt-based initiative “Kultur im Ghetto” (Culture in the Ghetto).