UNIVERSITY OF THE WITWATERSRAND, JOHANNESBURG

NON-FICTION

In Township Tonight! Three Centuries of South African Black Music and Theatre, by David Coplan 

Wits benefactor David Coplan (PhD Arts 1980), Professor and Chair in Social Anthropology at Wits, has been researching South African performing arts for 35 years. Black popular culture was a dynamic, inspiring force to people living in Soweto and Sharpeville against the harsh reality of apartheid. This culture, which produced artists of international repute including Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand), Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela, has a long and complex history, which In Township Tonight! (Jacana and Chicago, 2007) explores. From slave orchestras and penny whistlers through vaudeville acts and the first jazz bands to mineworker gumboot dances and the first all-black musicals, this book examines the socio-economic and political landscape within which this vibrant culture thrived. The new edition includes a revised introduction reflecting on recent developments in black music and theatre, updates cultural events and trends, and offers a new analytical conclusion. “No great city attains its distinctive character without the work of its popular artists … and Johannesburg’s has been forged in the face of great obstacles,” Coplan said at a related lecture at the Origins Centre in August 2011.