VIDEO BY ROB SAVAGE

In 2012 "Rivonia" was born while I was reading Nelson Mandela's "Long Walk to Freedom". The book stirred up a whirlwind in my heart that started me researching the history of my home country, South Africa (about which I was shamefully ignorant). 

The first song I wrote was "Took Them Away". It poured out of me - an account of the events that took place at Liliesleaf Farm in 1963, when the Apartheid government captured most of the members of Umkhonto We Sizwe. I tell the story through the eyes of a young boy called George Mellis, a neighbour to the residents at the farm. Aged 11, he reported suspicious activity to the police, which might have led to the capture of the freedom fighters - who went on to spend decades in prison.

 

After writing "Took Them Away" I decided to write a whole album inspired by the history of South Africa. Each song draws on a different story - the shipwrecks on the Cape of Good Hope; the story of Shaka Zulu and his advisor; the inception of my hometown, Johannesburg, during the gold-rush; and the story of my great grandfather, who shared his bed with Ghandi when a hotel owner would not give him a room (and tried to convert him to Christianity! Cringe!)