Kwela For Mandela – Randy Rambo En Die Rough Riders (aka Die Naaimasjiene)

From 1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Kwela For Mandela – Randy Rambo En Die Rough Riders (aka Die Naaimasjiene) (Prisoner 46664 probably never heard this on its release)

Die Saai Lewe by Die Naaimasjiene
Die Saai Lewe by Die Naaimasjiene

Randy Rambo sounds like a promiscuous machine gun toting all American hero, but he wasn’t, he was Theuns Engelbrecht, a disaffected Afrikaaner growing up during apartheid’s death throes. He and his Rough Riders recorded an album called ‘Die Saai Lewe’ which achieved the unique feat of being the only Afrikaans album to ever be banned in its entirety by the apartheid government. The album was re-released in 1997 but under the guise of Die Naaimasjiene, the group’s new name.

‘Kwela For Mandela’ was one of the tracks on this album and was performed live at the Houtstok Rokfees and sounds like The Aeroplanes recording in a township in the 80’s. It’s got that township bass that I have always imagined is what actually powers the minibus taxis, and the 80’s synthesizers and slightly off key vocals that give it a home cooked feel. There is also a lovely jazzy trumpet interlude.

Of course the lyrics were controversial at the time. No one with a white skin was allowed to give Mandela the time of day, let alone a whole kwela (despite the song not really being kwela), but Randy was prepared to break with tradition and the result was this little gem which, although it got zero attention from the mainstream, was an important building block in the growth of Afrikaans rock music.

by John Samson

Where to find it:

Houtstok Rockfees – Various Artists (LP, 1990), Gallo, HOUT1
Houtstok Rockfees – Various Artists (CD, 1998) Wildebeest, WILD013
Die Saai Lewe – Die Naaimasjiene (1997)


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