GRAHAMSTOWN, South Africa – Here in South Africa, the downfall of apartheid, the first multi-racial election in 1993 and the victory at the ballot box of the formerly outlawed African National Congress remains a source of considerable pride and celebration. And there is also an examination of the public diplomacy tools used by the ANC – especially music, arts and culture – as key elements in the ANC’s victory over the apartheid government, which possessed far more “hard power.”
An article, “Remix of struggle songs hits a dissonant crescendo,” published here recently describes many of these tools; particularly music, much of it derived from the music of the church. This will be familiar to Americans familiar with “We Shall Overcome” and other anthems of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. Since the election of the ANC in 1994, the South African government has developed a strong public diplomacy program, using music and culture to project the country’s identity to the world.
However, this article argues that the ANC in its role as ruling party may not be fully utilizing its musical and cultural tradition inside the country. Again, there may be parallels to the U.S. Civil Rights Movement and with other movements in the U.S. and in other parts of the world. But that is another blog post . . .
Adam Clayton Powell III is USC’s vice provost for Globalization. He is also a university fellow at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy. Powell recently published a book entitled Reinventing Local News: Connecting with Communities Using New Technologies (Figueroa Press, 2006). He has also written for a number of publications, including The New York Times, Wired Magazine and Online Journalism Review.