By Elcott Coleby
Oct 30, 2015
NASSAU, Bahamas — In a relatively low key affair, the Grammy Award winning Soweto Gospel Choir were in The Bahamas this week to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the NASSAU ACCORD.
Music enthusiasts would remember that this choir was formed in Soweto by choir directors David Mulovhedzi and Beverly Bryer. Their blend of gospel, Negro spirituals, reggae and American popular music has won them two Grammy Awards. Their albums Blessed and African Spirit both won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional World Music Album in 2007 and 2008 respectively.
It was in October 1985 right here in Nassau on the Cable Beach property now known as the Baha Mar resorts campus when Commonwealth Heads of Government held their inter-sessional meetings and high on the agenda was apartheid in South Africa and the imprisonment of freedom fighter Nelson Mandela. The world community considered Nelson Mandela a prisoner of conscience and a political prisoner.
As fate would have it, Tourism Minister the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe was the lead journalist from the Bahamas Broadcasting Corporation (ZNS) to cover this event and record its historic significance. The Religious Tourism Department of the Ministry of Tourism is playing host to this choir’s visit this week.
Then Prime Minister the late Sir Lynden Pindling was elected chair of the CHOCM, a policy decision was made to impose broad based sanctions against South Africa because of its race-based policies and the rest as they say is history. All formally banned political parties were legalized on 2nd February 1990; Mandela left the Victor Verster prison on 11th February a free man and was sworn in as the country’s president on 10th May 1994, forming the first majority rule cabinet since the imposition of apartheid. Mr. Mandela would serve until the 14th June 1999.
During their tour, the Soweto Choir was serenaded by the National Boys Choir, the National Youth Choir and components of the College of The Bahamas Choir on Wednesday night at the Center for the Performing Arts. They also performed in concert during the Caribbean Music Festival in Rawson Square on Thursday evening at 7pm.