Saturday, December 07, 2013

We Miss you Manelo - Chicco Twala (1989)

Back in the dark days of apartheid in South Africa, censors were ready to ban books, songs and people. In the 1980s, one of the most popular South African musicians was Sello "Chicco" Twala who is still a stalwart in the South African music industry today. In 1989, he released a pop tune called "We miss you Manelo" that was accompanied by a seemingly innocuous video that tells the story of a teenage girl Manelo. Poor Manelo gets herself knocked-up and eventually runs away from her very angry parents. Later in the song, Manelo's parents reflect on their move and are distraught over her continual absence. Hence the song's refrain is "We miss you Manelo, where are you??"

If you listen to the song carefully, you will understand the genius of Chicco and other artists of the time. Here are some of the lyrics:

"It's been a long time,  Manelo where are you? We are missing you, Manelo Where are you? Come back, come back home!" 

Was the song about a teenage girl Manelo who ran away from home? Most probably not.

The song was actually "We miss you Mandela, where are you?" but to evade the censors, Chicco released this track complete with the Manelo facade. Talk about sticking it to The Man. Perhaps the censors may have suspected something was amiss but with a video like that, what could they say?

Fortunately for Chicco and the rest of South Africa, Nelson Mandela was to be released the very next year in 1990 and the already unraveling apartheid system was to completely collapse in a few years and be relegated to the dustbin of history.

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