15 Anti-Apartheid Reggae Songs

It’s been over 20 years since apartheid (literally meaning ‘separateness’) died in South Africa. That evil regime which systematically separated people along race lines began in 1948 by the ruling Afikaner National Party and ran until June 5, 1991 when South Africa’s last white president FW de Klerk declared the end of apartheid rule. Between those dates a number of reggae albums and songs with strong anti-apartheid messages were released, bringing worldwide exposure to the oppressive regime ruling South Africa. Therefor it is necessary to recognize Reggae music as one of the main reasons why apartheid has thankfully become a horrible thing from the past. 

In honor of this overlooked historical fact, I'm presenting a list of crucial reggae anthems that deal with apartheid and social injustices in South Africa. Reggae has a strong tradition there and South Africa even gave birth to one of the greatest and most respected Non-Jamaican reggae artist ever - Lucky Dube. So light your spliffs and take a musical trip back to an era and place we should all be grateful our children will never have to experience.

Alpha Blondy - Apartheid is Nazism

Blondy is a West African reggae singer from the Ivory Coast that has been singing about the shitstem for more than four decades

Peter Tosh - Anti-Apartheid

Rare dub plate from 1977 showcasing Peter Tosh playing the Melodica, a dub instrument made famous by Augustus Pablo. The riddim was produced by Bunny Wailer and features Aston "Family Man" Barrett on Bass.

Lucky Dube - Come together as One

Mighty Diamonds - Apartheid

The legendary Mighty Diamonds are a roots reggae band from the notorious Trench Town. Their harmonies and spaced out production are legendary as exemplified in the track below...

Frankie Jones - Free South Africa

Another Kingston bred reggae artist, Jones had a string of minor hits in the late 70's and early 80's before disappearing into obscurity.

Sonny Okosun - Fire in Soweto

Sonny was a reggae artist from Nigeria and one of Africa's best and most important musicians. 


UB40 - Sing our own Song

Bob Marley - War


The Twinkle Brothers - Free Africa

Real life brothers Norman and Ralston Grant formed this irie roots band in the 60's and have been jamming ever since. They have recorded several albums and songs with strong anti-apartheid messages and themes.

Tappa Zukie - Tribute to Steve Biko

Zukie, another Kingston reggae pioneer sings about famous South African non-violent activist Steve Biko, who was unjustly tortured to death by the South African Police.

Don Carlos - Deeply Concerned

Carlos was a member of the legendary reggae group Black Uhuru before branching out into a solo career in the 80's. A roots artist from the Waterhouse district of West Kingston, a famous hotbed of reggae history, Carlos sings directly to the oppressed everywhere.

Black Uhuru - Freedom Fighters

The Congos - Apartheid

A Jamaican roots band from the 70's, the Congos have been fighting  for equal rights since their very first album.

Peter Tosh -  Apartheid and Fight Against Apartheid

Peter Tosh is the hardest and toughest reggae singer of all time. He wrote and sang endlessly about poverty, justice for the poor and the African struggle. Originally released on his landmark album "Equal Rights" and re-recorded and released a decade later on his final alum "No Nuclear War" The oppressive apartheid rule in South Africa was heavy in his heart up until the day he was murdered on 9/11 1987.  Tosh was granted a posthumous grammy for the album although the Illuminatti was surely glad to see him go. For the death of Tosh ended roots reggae as a viable commercial artform in the United States. 

Bonus Documentary about the grammy award winning South African singer and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba. Nicknamed "Mama Africa" She was the first artist from Africa to popularize African music internationally. Makeba campaigned against the racist South African system until the government responded by revoking her passport in 1960 and her citizenship and right of return in 1963. As the apartheid system crumbled she returned home for the first time in 1990. Makeba died of a heart attack on 9 November 2008

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