National Museum of African Art hosts ‘punk in Africa’ program

December 6, 2013

Saturday afternoon, the National Museum of African Art hosts a documentary screening and performance featuring Ivan Kadey, one of the original members of the group National Wake (pictured above). (Photo courtesy of Ivan Kadey)

The National Museum of African Art will host a screening of “Punk in Africa” Saturday at 2 p.m. The 2012 documentary explores the history and impact of the punk movement on the political and social climates of South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. National Wake, a band formed in South Africa following the Soweto Uprising of 1976 is a part of that story and is known as the country's first multiracial punk band.

During a phone interview, Ivan Kadey, one of the band's founding members, recalled the connection between the music and the time saying,  "Rock and roll doesn't really live without the spirit of rebellion." The band came about during South Africa's period of racial segregation and were affected by the restrictions of the society, receiving little radio play. Unable to sustain themselves financially, the group split in 1982 following the release of the first album "National Wake."

Tomorrow, Kadey will be joined by local musicians at the museum's program for a performance featuring some of National Wake's original songs. One such song is "International News," a song Kadey says is a reflection of the censorship and control imposed on citizens of South Africa. Last month, Light in the Attic Records released a compilation of the group's music titled "Walk in Africa."

Upon hearing of the death of former South African president Nelson Mandela, Kadey said: “He became the symbol for freedom for everyone; he really became the world’s symbol of what it is to be free and what it is to stand up and battle for that freedom.”

Producer Jeffe Brown will take part in a Q&A session following the documentary screening, and you can see Kadey and local musicians perform Friday night at IOTA Club and Café in Arlington at 9 p.m.  Tickets are $12.

Macy L. Freeman is an editorial aide for the Weekend/Going Out Guide section at The Washington Post.
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