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© 2019 by Yara Alasad

Two lullabies with extraordinary history 

Do not miss these two professional recordings!

Thula Mama Version 1 and Version 2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=671bQeaJ9Pc

Njabulo Madlala

 

Version 1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKQhmniyWtI

Sibongile Khumalo

Lyrics/translation Thula Mama Version 1

Score Thula Mama  Version 1

Lyrics/translation Thula Mama Version 2

Score Thula Mama  Version 2

 

Interview Zandi Sutton  

February 22, 2019

 

Joan Litman (JL): Zandi, we’re honored that you have been willing to share Thula Mama, the lullaby that was so important to you as a high school student under apartheid in South Africa.

 

 I’m curious about the fact that you have given us two strikingly different versions of the same lullaby! Not only are the melodies and lyrics different, but also the context. Can you talk about this? Who would have guessed the two versions would have such completely different meanings?

 

Zandi Sutton (ZS): The first version I gave you was sung to comfort a child when his (or her) father (or mother) was out in the field, or gathering wood, or away somewhere. This is why you hear the lyrics “Thula sana [child], be still, child. Your father will be back in the morning.”

 

The second version was specifically sung to mothers during the struggle. These were the mothers whose sons had been sent to work in the dangerous mines of Zimbabwe. 

Many of these sons did not return. 

 

We used to sing this lullaby as we walked door-to-door

in our neighborhood. We sang to comfort the mothers whose sons had been killed. You have to understand that there was no money to buy coffins, the grave, or money to feed the family. We sang this version and carried little jars to collect the change.

 

JL: Why had the men gone to these dangerous mines? Who went? Is it true that under apartheid, the young black men were given no choice?

 

ZS: Yes. 1980-1989 were particularly rough years. Soldiers enforced the rules. The soldiers were usually white. And some were from a black political party that was left over from the homelands.

 

This is the era of Nelson Mandela. He spent 27 years imprisoned for speaking out, and for organizing against injustice.

 

JL: I feel like these lullabies could be deeply relevant to America today. How would it be valuable to connect our students to these songs?

 

ZS: We all know there is injustice in America today. How do we respond? We need to not stand by idly and watch injustice. We should not turn the other way from, for example, immigrants. We must believe “You are my brother!” We must be willing to stop and think and feel. If I do nothing because the laws do not personally affect me, then it becomes too late.

 

In South Africa, if all of the people had acted sooner (against injustice) there would not have been a reason to sing Thula Mama.

 

 

 

 

JL : Here’s a question that currently concerns many American educators. Would you consider it appropriation if we sing

Thula Mama

 

ZS: I would consider it appropriation if you didn’t bother yourself with finding out who sang it and why. Where is the song from? How do we pronounce the words? What is the meaning? Don’t bury the meaning.

 

I am happy when people like our music and want to learn it. Let’s do this right.

 

JL: I think Thula Mama would be a beautiful song to sing at a school assembly. Maybe even both lullabies, for contrast in meaning.  The lullaby sung to the mothers would be a reminder for students and teachers alike that they can stand up for justice wherever they are.

 

Zandi Sutton is a native of Durban, South Africa; and lives in Jersey City with her husband Jeff and son, Sbu.

 

Thula Mama is a traditional Zulu song.

The score provided here is only “owned” in the hearts of South African people.

Sharing is encouraged and does not require permission.

 

Two lullabies with extraordinary history 

Do not miss these two professional recordings!

Thula Mama Version 1 and Version 2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=671bQeaJ9Pc

Njabulo Madlala

 

Version 1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKQhmniyWtI

Sibongile Khumalo

Lyrics/translation Thula Mama Version 1

Score Thula Mama  Version 1

Lyrics/translation Thula Mama Version 2

Score Thula Mama  Version 2

 

Interview Zandi Sutton  

February 22, 2019

 

Joan Litman (JL): Zandi, we’re honored that you have been willing to share Thula Mama, the lullaby that was so important to you as a high school student under apartheid in South Africa.

 

 I’m curious about the fact that you have given us two strikingly different versions of the same lullaby! Not only are the melodies and lyrics different, but also the context. Can you talk about this? Who would have guessed the two versions would have such completely different meanings?

 

Zandi Sutton (ZS): The first version I gave you was sung to comfort a child when his (or her) father (or mother) was out in the field, or gathering wood, or away somewhere. This is why you hear the lyrics “Thula sana [child], be still, child. Your father will be back in the morning.”

 

The second version was specifically sung to mothers during the struggle. These were the mothers whose sons had been sent to work in the dangerous mines of Zimbabwe. 

Many of these sons did not return. 

 

We used to sing this lullaby as we walked door-to-door

in our neighborhood. We sang to comfort the mothers whose sons had been killed. You have to understand that there was no money to buy coffins, the grave, or money to feed the family. We sang this version and carried little jars to collect the change.

 

JL: Why had the men gone to these dangerous mines? Who went? Is it true that under apartheid, the young black men were given no choice?

 

ZS: Yes. 1980-1989 were particularly rough years. Soldiers enforced the rules. The soldiers were usually white. And some were from a black political party that was left over from the homelands.

 

This is the era of Nelson Mandela. He spent 27 years imprisoned for speaking out, and for organizing against injustice.

 

JL: I feel like these lullabies could be deeply relevant to America today. How would it be valuable to connect our students to these songs?

 

ZS: We all know there is injustice in America today. How do we respond? We need to not stand by idly and watch injustice. We should not turn the other way from, for example, immigrants. We must believe “You are my brother!” We must be willing to stop and think and feel. If I do nothing because the laws do not personally affect me, then it becomes too late.

 

In South Africa, if all of the people had acted sooner (against injustice) there would not have been a reason to sing Thula Mama.

 

 

 

 

JL : Here’s a question that currently concerns many American educators. Would you consider it appropriation if we sing

Thula Mama

 

ZS: I would consider it appropriation if you didn’t bother yourself with finding out who sang it and why. Where is the song from? How do we pronounce the words? What is the meaning? Don’t bury the meaning.

 

I am happy when people like our music and want to learn it. Let’s do this right.

 

JL: I think Thula Mama would be a beautiful song to sing at a school assembly. Maybe even both lullabies, for contrast in meaning.  The lullaby sung to the mothers would be a reminder for students and teachers alike that they can stand up for justice wherever they are.

 

Zandi Sutton is a native of Durban, South Africa; and lives in Jersey City with her husband Jeff and son, Sbu.

 

Thula Mama is a traditional Zulu song.

The score provided here is only “owned” in the hearts of South African people.

Sharing is encouraged and does not require permission.