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Voelvry: the legacy

Voelvry tour poster

“In a two-month blitz of nation-wide gigs, musicians on the Voëlvry tour won hearts and minds, and damaged countless livers and lungs. Somewhere in the vrot rubble of scattered beer cans, a committed cult following jumped up screaming, flicking their Bics and chanting for more. Hiding behind subversive pseudonyms, yelling inciteful slogans … the Voëlvry brigade mocks the total onslaught with a rock and roll beat.”

- Michael Markovitz, Scope

Total onslaught - se naam is Voëlvry

Organised by Shifty Records and upstart Afrikaans paper Vrye weekblad, the Voëlvry tour of 1989 was the apex of Afrikaans protest rock, as Shifty’s merry band of irreverent musicians climbed aboard the ossewa and took their youth uprising on the road, intent on making it cool to be an Afrikaner.

"What those of us who were Afrikaans really wanted to do, was escape from the Afrikaner tribe instead of just attacking its values. Just look at the name we gave ourselves: Voëlvry. It means, literally, 'outlawed', 'wanted dead or alive'"

- Koos Kombuis ii

Described as an “unprecedented orgy of Afrikaner anarchy”i, when they weren’t banned, they performed to packed audiences at universities, in town halls, even churches, leaving “Boere Beatlemania” in their wake. After they were banished from the Stellenbosch campus, the supposed stronghold of liberal Afrikaners, the town witnessed one of the biggest demonstrations it had seen in years as 1500 students protested in anger.

The Voëlvry pioneers steered their revolution into both the platteland and the crux of the volk identity: “it was rock ‘n’ roll learning to speak Die Taal that turned the cry of protest into a juggernaut.”

i Afterword inPat Hopkins, Voelvry: the movement that rocked South Africa. Cape Town: Zebra Press, 2006

ii Pat Hopkins, Voelvry: the movement that rocked South Africa. Cape Town: Zebra Press, 2006

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