Something Inside So Strong: A Powerful Anti-Apartheid Song and Much More

prideIn May of 2015, the enormously talented South African vocal group – the Bala Brothers – will be touring the United States. Undoubtedly a part of each performance will be a song that brought down the house in South Africa, especially at such events as the concert tribute to Nelson Mandela in December 2013, attended by a crowd of over 55,000 fans. The song is called: Something Inside So Strong.

Written by British Singer-songwriter Labi Siffre, the song reached # 4 on the UK music charts and since has been covered by artists as diverse at Kenny Rogers, Eddie Vedder (from Pearl Jam), Pop Idol contestants, Irish folksingers and Odetta. The song won the Ivor Novello Award for “Best Song Musically and Lyrically” and has been used in tributes to Rosa Parks, Amnesty International campaigns and as part of Alice Walker’s film against female genital mutilation: “Warrior Marks”.  It’s become a landmark anthem for human rights and dignity both is South Africa and around the world.

When songwriter Labi Siffre was asked about writing “Something Inside So Strong”, he shared the story of how it was inspired by a 1984 TV documentary on apartheid in South Africa that showed soldiers openly firing on black civilians in the street. In 2014, he also discussed how the song reflected his experiences growing up as a gay child and man in England.  Clearly the song makes a strong statement about standing up for not only for basic human rights, but also for respect, tolerance and dignity as well.

Something Inside So Strong, Performance by Lira

Here’s a moving rendition of the song performed by South African artist, Lira (Lerato Molapo). An eight time South African Music Award-winner, Lira is from the Daveyton township in Johannesburg’s East Rand. She speaks and sings in four languages and her name translates to “love” in the Sesotho language.

Lyrics

The higher you build your barriers, the taller I become
The farther you take my rights away, the faster I will run
You can deny me, you can decide to turn your face away
No matter ’cause there’s…

Something inside so strong
I know that I can make it
Though you’re doin’ me wrong, so wrong
You thought that my pride was gone, oh no
There’s something inside so strong
Something inside so strong

The more you refuse to hear my voice, the louder I will sing
You hide behind walls of Jericho, you’re lies will come tumbling
Deny my place and time,  you squander wealth that’s mine

My light will shine so brightly it will blind you
Because there’s…

Something inside so strong
I know that I can make it
Though you’re doin’ me wrong, so wrong
You thought that my pride was gone, oh no
There’s something inside so strong
Something inside so strong

Brothers and sisters, when they insist we’re just not good enough.

Well, we know better, just look ’em in the eyes and say.

“Were gonna do it anyway, were gonna do it anyway… Were gonna do it anyway”

Something inside so strong
I know that I can make it
Though you’re doin’ me wrong, so wrong
You thought that my pride was gone, oh no
There’s something inside so strong
Something inside so strong

Links And Resources

Do You Know The Bala Brothers?

https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/do-you-know-the-bala-brothers/

The South African Vuvuzela

https://makingmulticulturalmusic.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/vuvuzelas-the-horn-that-is-loved-and-hated-all-over-the-world/

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