Ethnography of Fiddle/Township Jive

Township Jive (more properly Jaiva or"TJ") is a Music genre|sub-genre of South African township music and African danceform [1][2] which has influenced Western break dance[3] and emerged from the shebeen culture of the apartheid era townships Jaiva obtained international prominence with the 1986 release of Paul Simon's "Graceland" album which featured the track Township Jive[4] with Miriam Makeba and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

Influences and particularityEdit

[5] While closely associated with umbaquanga, Township Jive more broadly incorporates some influences from mariba which was somewhat sanitized as TJ broke into the international commercial arena.[6]

Emergence in world music circlesEdit

Also featured on the Graceland album were The Boyoyo Boys, who received additional press coverage when Malcolm McLaren allegedly plagiarized their song "Puleng" and released it as the hit "Double Dutch," capitalizing on the emergence of breakdance and hip-hop.[7]

Additional momentum for world beat attention to South African music developed as a result of international attention to the demise of apartheid and Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday concert in Wembley Stadium, London in 1988[citation needed]


According to Ambrose Ehirim, a US based Nigeria specialist,[8] township music traces to the fifties when it was proscribed by South African police.[9] This is contradicted by the assertion of "white Zulu" anti-apartheid activist Johnny Clegg,[10] that "by the 1960's, the development of umbaqanga hadn't even really started". Umbaquanga or Mbaqanga has been characterized as urban pop music "with high-pitched, choppy guitar and a powerful bass line" influenced by "funk, reggae, American R&B, soul and drawing on South African Marabi, gospel music".[11]

Township Jive is closely associated with the development of baquanga, umbaquanga or m'baquanga but is distinguished in that it is more closely associated with emergent international trends and not as insular and rooted in tradition as umbaquanga.[12] Christopher Ballantine traces the “shift from imitating American jazz to localizing the sound with African features. This he connects to the emergence of the ideology of New Africanism…” [13] While the international market was absorbing “Township Jive” under the swirl of commercial activity culminating in the McLaren copyright infringement lawsuit and the subsequent release of triumphant BBoy’s new album was preferred amongst a more elite listening audience closely associated with the black diasphora consciousness movements.[14]

TJ and globalizationEdit

The homogenization of Township Jive with US and UK culture, due to Globalization, is viewed by African artists as a threat to the preservation of their local tradition and credibility. Thus, artist focus on maintaining an emotional link between customer and brand. This explains why Transnational corporations are much less interested in homogenizing or Americanizing Kwaito music because true Kwaito represents and dictates South African experience.[15] Americanizing Kwaito, as is many artists' opinion, can potentially dilute the substance Kwaito was originally based on.[16]

On the upside, critical awareness of TJ has enhanced appreciation of fusion artists and others influenced by its style. For instance, Vibration Bookings bills its artist Nomfusi as a proponent of "a new style where South African Township Jive ("Jaiva") meets Motown". [17] And the Boyoyo Boys have, subsequent to the copyright scandal, signed by Rounder Records which released "T. J.[i.e., Township Jive] Today" in 1998.

External linksEdit

Audio track Soweto Jive Zambia Association of Musicians website [18]

Additional scholarly referencesEdit

  • Charles Hamm (1987). Review of David B. Coplan 'In Township Tonight! South Africa's Black City Music and Theatre' Popular Music, 6, pp 352–355 doi:10.1017/S0261143000002427
  • THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF CAPE TOWN Cape Town: The Making of a City: An Illustrated Social History. Edited by NIGEL WORDEN, ELIZABETH VAN HEYNINGEN and VIVIAN BICKFORD-SMITH. Cape Town: David Philip, 1998. Pp. 283. Rand 250 ISBN 0-86486-435-3. Cape Town in the Twentieth Century: An Illustrated Social History. Edited by NIGEL WORDEN, ELIZABETH VAN HEYNINGEN and VIVIAN BICKFORD-SMITH. Cape Town: David Philip, 1999. Pp. 255. Rand 225 ISBN 0-86486-384-5.
  • David Copeland| Cape Town| 1994: operation and impact of Musical Action for People's Progress in disadvantaged communities in the Cape Flats
  • David Copeland| 1985 In township tonight! South Africa's black city music and theater. London ; New York: Longman ; Johannesburg: Raven Press, 1985. (French edition, published in 1990 by Karthala)
  • Barbara Browning (1998) Infectious Rhythm: Metaphors of Contagion and the Spread of African Culture [Paperback] Routledge
  • Louise Meintjes’ Sound of Africa (2003)
  • Gwen Ansell’s Soweto Blues (2004).

References and notesEdit

  2. and Mvuyisi jiving at the Ikamva Lethu centre in Kayamandi South Africa
  3. band=Wozani |title= Township Jive |
  4. artist=Paul Simon|title=Township Jive|
  5. aul Simon: Township jive, graceland, concert Zimbabwe 1987/ South Africa, miriam makeba, ladysmith black mamba
  6. Stone, Ruth (1998). Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: Vol. 1. New York: Garland Pub.. 
  7. Ambrose Ehirim|Sunday, December 9, 2007|The Boyoyo Boys and Township Jive Today|
  8. Ambrose Ehirim|Sunday, December 9, 2007|The Boyoyo Boys and Township Jive Today|
  12. Louise Meintjes (1996). Review of Christopher Ballantine 'Marabi Nights: Early South African Jazz and Vaudeville' Popular Music, 15, pp 245-247 doi:10.1017/S0261143000008187
  13. Christopher Ballantine|Christopher Ballantine 'Marabi Nights: Early South African Jazz and Vaudeville|xxxx|xxxx
  15. Magubane, Zine. The Vinyl Aint Final "Globalization and Gangster Rap: Hip Hop in the post-Apartheid City". 220
  16. Swartz, Sharlene. "Is Kwaito South African Hip Hop? Why the answer matters and who it matters to". May 2003