Music is an instrument for movements. It is an apparatus strategically utilized by those who fight in the name of the struggle. It is a means to an end that places final solutions in the context of what is only a hope of achieving genuine equality. Music is voice, and voices, and collectives who speak truth to a power that never intended to share the advantage. Music is best played by those who use wounded feet to march down streets that whole populations for several generations, were not allowed to walk onto. Streets paved historically that played music to the beat of delicate tensions between those who once oppressed and those who were found to be the oppressor. Music is the songs that come from those who resisted, those who were intimidated but still chose to fight, and those who stood up not only for themselves but also for those who would be singing after them. Music is a tune played by equalizers who organize for the future of babies currently in the wombs on their mothers. It is the rhythm of two steps forward, one step back, but progress detained as the inevitable, as long as those musicians and activist decide to never remain stagnant.
At the Equal Education offices in South Africa, I am currently organizing a choir to basically do what the young students in this organization already do so well, lead a movement that is fueled by music, driven by zeal, and sustained by the commitments of those who face inequality everyday in their lives, schools, and communities. We want to be able to provide new members (learners, equalisers, teachers, principals, outside NGOs, partnering movements) a recording of the powerful music that has encouraged Equal Education for the almost 5 years now. We also want to give people an opportunity to read the lyrics and learn the songs that have grown out of EE’s organizing.
There is something that movements around the world need to learn from Equal Education and the history South African resistance overall. The lesson is about how the power of music can be a driving force to organize, encourage, build fellowship, spread messages, and sustain movements.
The lyrics of their music still ring through school hallways around townships today:
My Mother is a Kitchen Girl
My Father is a garden boy
That’s Why I’m an Equalizer
Im an Equalizer, An Equalizer
Umama Wam Wayesebenza E Khitshini
Utata Wam Wayesebenza e gadini
Yiyo Lento Ndiyi Equalizer, Equalizer