By Kendea Smith
Oct 29, 2015
The Bahamas Weekly
Nassau, Bahamas – The world famous Soweto Gospel Choir of South Africa will sing songs of freedom in Parliament Square this Thursday, in celebration of The Bahamas’ role in freeing Nelson Mandela from prison.
This month marks the 30th Anniversary of the signing of the Nassau Accord, and the Grammy Award-winning group made its first trip to The Bahamas to commemorate the historic occasion.
The Nassau Accord was signed by 45 leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Nassau on 20 October 1985.
The package of sanctions and inducements increased pressure on the South African government to dismantle its system of racial segregation. It is hailed as the key step toward ending apartheid in South Africa and securing Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.
Among the songs being performed, the Soweto Gospel Choir will include a selection of Mandela’s favorite hymns.
Patricia Bazard, director of the Bahamas Children Choir hosted the Soweto Choir in a People-to-People experience.
“To know a country, you have to know the people and know them in their natural setting because tonight was very informal and we were able to do some things that we don’t naturally do and usually for my hosting I try to expose them to our culture so that they go away with a memory,” she said.
Diniloxolo Ndlakuse, the choir director of Soweto Choir, said it’s his first time in The Bahamas and he’s enjoying the weather, the surroundings and the people.
He vowed to come back next year.
“It’s been a nice experience. One thing for sure it is so awesome. Music is universal language and it has the power to create and to unite. Coming here to share music, dance and love for God is very awesome,” Mr. Ndlakuse said.
“Mandela played a really huge role. He was arrested in 1964 so that when he was released we were all liberated. He opened the doors for us to mingle with people around the world so it is an honour for us to be a part of this event.”
Bahamas Ministry of Tourism has signed on as the host sponsor of the Caribbean Muzik Festival, which will this year commemorate a momentous milestone in the history of The Bahamas.
On October 20 1985, Commonwealth leaders gathered in Nassau to sign the accord. Sir Lynden Pindling was chairman of CHOGM at the time and led the charge. Sir Lynden is credited for persuading the majority of heads of senior Commonwealth members to support the position.
Sir Lynden Pindling was appointed to the Eminent Persons Group, which was established by the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The EPG visited South Africa in 1986 and reported on the situation there, reinforcing the call for sanctions against South Africa.
The economic sanctions against South Africa articulated in the Nassau Accord set off a chain of events that would eventually lead to the abolition of apartheid and the first democratic general elections in South Africa in 1994.
On February 11, 1990, South African anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela was released from prison, and soon after, visited The Bahamas, to thank Sir Lynden for the critical role that he had played in the process.
Caribbean Muzik Festival has dedicated the second night of the four-day festival to the celebration of Bahamian history and culture. Organizers will also highlight The Bahamas’ ties to South Africa.
Along with several talented Bahamian acts, the South African Soweto Gospel Choir will perform at the commemoration on October 29.
A Living Legend award will also be presented to South African musician Masekela. Other Living Legend awardees are Ronnie Butler (Bahamas), Jimmy Cliff (Jamaica), Omara Portuondo (Cuba), Emile Straker (Barbados), and McCartha “Calypso Rose” Sandy-Lewis (Trinidad and Tobago).
Several dignitaries from South Africa and other Commonwealth countries have been invited to attend the event.