Cape Town’s multiethnic Rosa Choir is a fine place to consider the legacy of Nelson Mandela.
There is not much we can add to the news of Mandela’s death. The Internet is serving up some fine eulogies and some evergreen media, from Madiba’s first televised interview to my friend Tony Karon’s lovingly acerbic puncturing of American myths about the man.
Roads & Kingdoms was in South Africa’s Western Cape last year and found the place to be a staggeringly complex melt of people and ideas and injustices and outlooks. So we tried to take small bites, to tell small stories until we, as journalists and humans, got closer to something resembling an understanding of the place. One of those stories we did was of the Rosa Choir, led in part by Mansoor Jaffer, an old friend of Tony’s from their days as young men fighting against Apartheid.
Jaffer is an activist still, and the choir is an extension of an ur-dream of Mandela and the South African resistance: that people of different races should be able to just be together. The choir is studiously diverse—black, white and Malay—and, led by choral director Farid Adams, they sing traditional songs in Xhosa, Afrikaner, English. It’s a beautiful project, really, and there couldn’t be a finer day that today to watch our humble little video from their practice in hardscrabble Langa Township.