Hailing from Soweto, South Africa, Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness, or BCUC for short, is a band that makes “music for the people by the people with the people.” True to their name, they pursue freedom, life, and light. BCUC seeks to challenge stereotypical narratives of the African continent and to demystify the general worldviews around modern Africa. Ayiba’s Sanet Oberholzer spoke to the band about their formation, their unique political message, upcoming shows, and the launch of their new EP Our Truth.
How was BCUC formed?
BCUC was formed in a park by a gang of street freestylers including guitarists, djembe players, flute artists, and spoken word assassins. Days prior to that session in the park, random acts of musical gods made young people from Soweto coincidentally meet. They discovered that they’ve got the same drive and passion to create an indigenous band that can fuse the youth social politics and take on the digital music storm that was being pumped by the radio. Years went by, numbers decreased, and the band formally took off.
How would you describe your sound?
The constant thing about our sound is the fact that it’s a concoction of traditional music from our different cultures packaged to create nostalgia for the audience. Some call it “Afro‐psychedelic,” we now call it “Africa Ngungungu,” but when it is played it becomes whatever the day requires.
How has your hometown of Soweto shaped your music and your message?
Without Soweto there is no BCUC. We are a reflection of the perception that Soweto has about our global community. All in all we are a voice of the marginalised worldwide that has Soweto as its base camp.
I saw you perform at Park Acoustics in November where I was struck by the positive, inclusive narrative of modern, post-apartheid South Africa that you promote. What do you want to say to South Africans today, especially during this time in which we find ourselves in a racially-charged environment?
We are all trapped by our past. We are all frustrated by our present, yet our future is still in our hands. Every South African has a duty to uphold the principles that they wish for or that they are in pursuit of. This unique environment is nothing new in a global sense but what we have that is unique as South Africans is that we have seen countries go down because they didn’t invest their brains when their world became unstable. In our little corner, full of optimism and so-called naïve thoughts, we think that if everyone can micro‐manage their future and be the model parent or model kid for your parents, a good neighbour, an excellent employee, a considerate employer, be fair and kind as a South African – those little bits of positivity that we have just pointed out, if you combine them they make a beautiful country. The clock is ticking and tempers are high but if we become good students of life and use our professions to instil the things that we as individuals desire, collectively we can make the disaster that is looming disappear.
Which Western assumptions around Africa and South Africa do you feel most compelled to challenge?
We want to challenge the notion that Africans don’t see the injustices that are happening to them and around them and that they need help from a system or tools that are not in Africa. We think Africa has got solutions in the beauty of its languages, pre‐western history, and its names.the plight of the uneducated workers at the bottom of the social food chainthe plight of the uneducated workers at the bottom of the social food chain
On your Facebook page you talk about tackling the harsh realities of the voiceless, especially the “plight of the uneducated workers at the bottom of the food chain.” How do you attempt to tackle these realities in your music?
We tackle them by not being blame-orientated but by being solutions-driven. Too much blame is being thrown around and it is easy to be negative – plus it sells CDs. We are not opting for that. We choose to be positive with the gift that we were given by the ones before us.
You’ve been exploding on the music scene and performing at various shows and festivals locally and internationally. What have you got lined up in the upcoming months?
We just came back from Spain and soon we are off to the Reunion Islands. We are also lucky to be one of the bands celebrating Catharine Grenfell’s birthday at The Good Luck Bar. We are also playing at PIC NIC in Newton, the legendary place that raised us. We are performing at Endless Daze Festival and Rocking the Daisies in the Cape of Dope (Awe Ma Se kinders). We also have a tour in France lined up.
I’m very excited for your upcoming EP Our Truth. What can fans expect?
They can expect Our Truth undiluted. They can expect our present sound in all its might. Like we usually say in our shows, “Don’t anticipate but be ready to receive.” It’s our truth.
Your music is currently available on SoundCloud. Do you have any plans to launch your upcoming EP?
We are planning on having mini pre‐launches in Soweto and possibly in Johannesburg or Pretoria. The official release of the EP will be in Paris, France.
What is your wish for Africa?
We wish for acceptance in our uniqueness as a people of this complex continent. “Africa is not for sissies” as one of our friends usually says it. TIA!
If you have not been fortunate enough to have seen BCUC perform live, do yourself the favour and find out if they’ll be performing in your vicinity anytime soon. Follow them on:
Facebook: BCUC, https://www.facebook.com/bantucontinua/
Twitter: @bantucontinua, https://twitter.com/bantucontinua
SoundCloud: bcuc-band, https://soundcloud.com/bcuc-band