Where Is the Way?

Helen Q. Kivnick, Author, Mbongeni Ngema, Introduction by Penguin Books $9.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-14-012895-6
Kivnick, an ethnomusicologist and psychologist ( The Meaning of Grandparenthood ), presents an overview of black South African music, with compelling anecdotes drawn from her three-month stay in the country in 1984. Quoting some of the powerful lyrics she heard (``Freedom shines before us / Freedom is in our hand'') and introducing determined, gifted musicians (such as Joseph Shabalala of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the group that performed on Paul Simon's Grace land album), the author conveys the passion of their love songs, their religious music and their songs of protest. She probes the social as well as political meanings of music to these people, although her style is sometimes overwrought (singing is ``a way of being together today and moving ahead, together, toward tomorrow''). Her narrative is also marred by her need to remind the reader that she is white (``my white, city feet'' and ``my white American ears''). The book offers a guide to South African recordings available from U.S. record stores and mail-order suppliers, including two records coproduced by Kivnick and her husband. Photos not seen by PW . (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1990
Release date: 09/01/1990
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