South African Musical Solidarity for Palestine: The Mavrix
The Mavrix, a South African band, are known for their solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Their musical message reached all the way into the hearts of the Palestinians of Gaza and received international acclaim, when they released their well-known music video “The New Black”, which also featured Palestinian Oud player Mohammed Omar from Gaza.
The music video that features the song from the album “Pura Vida”, draws parallels between South African apartheid and Israeli apartheid and the current occupation of Palestine. The band’s inclination to solidarity with Palestine against apartheid and oppression is also expressed on this album in the songs “Palestinian as One”, and a song written by founding member Jeremy Karodia called “Burnt Humus”, for his friend in Gaza, Haidar Eid.
Responding to the recent Israeli atrocities against the people of Gaza of last month, The Mavrix have made ‘Palestinian as One’ available for free download. You can listen to the song here, and download it. You can also watch this music video based on this song, that was not made by the Mavrix, but by a Youtube user using their song and combining it with pictures of worldwide pro-Palestine solidarity.
This unique South African band combines purity of sound and composition with a powerful and penetrating message.
The roots of The Mavrix go back to the 1980′s and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. The founding members, composers/musicians, Jeremy Karodia and Ayub Mayet, floated in and out of their roles as activists and artists, artists and activists, finally settling as activist artists writing music that reflected life in apartheid South Africa. During that period, The Mavrix consisted of Karodia on guitar/vocals and Mayet on vocals.
After the birth of a new South African democracy in 1994, The Mavrix evolved by adding new songs and music to their repertoire with the addition of new musicians, Shahzaadee Karodia on violin, Ketan Parshotham on tabla and Reshma Lalla on santoor to accompany Karodia’s guitar and Mayet’s vocals.
Styled in Western Folk and fused with African and North Indian rhythms and melodies, the band recorded their first album, “Guantanamo Bay”, in 2004 as a response to the growing phenomenon of global poverty, political detentions, drug abuse, domestic violence, child abuse and occupation/invasion and war. The album fused Western instruments with Indian and African instruments. Reza Khota on guitar, Godfrey Mgcina on African percussion and Marc Duby on bass played as session musicians on the cd.
The title song, “Guantanamo Bay”, was written to highlight the parallels between the United States’ infamous Guantanamo Bay prison and apartheid South Africa’s own political detention camp, Robben Island, on which most of the liberation movement’s political leaders including Nelson Mandela, were incarcerated. Other songs such as “Promised Land” highlighted the invasion of Iraq and the occupation of Palestine.
In 2007 the band began writing new songs and had a change in personnel. With Parshotham and Lalla having left the band, Ravi Naidoo on vocals, Corvin Brady on violin and Pravesh Vallabh on tabla joined the group. The Mavrix began work on a new album called “Pura Vida”.
True to the sound of their first cd, “Guantanamo Bay”, released in 2004/2005, the new album reflects the band’s diverse brand of fusing African, Indian classical and Western musical styles in the “folk/rock” genre. The 14 songs are just as diverse in lyrical content as the variety of instrumentation on the album.
The album features an array of talented and versatile local and international musicians who accompanied the band to create an album embellished by multiple instruments and musical arrangements. Johannesburg based Denny Lalouette and Gregs Moonsammy on bass, Pahlad Singh on accordion, Kreasan Moodley on harmonium, a string trio featuring Ruby Ngoasheng on viola, Kagiso Molete on violin and Sizekello Shuba on cello, Wian Joubert on percussion, Durban based santoor player, Ashwin Morar and Palestinian Oud player, Mohamed Omar helped create a unique style that The Mavrix have become known for.
Whilst The Mavrix compose songs passionately about global issues that affect communities in their day to day lives, the band have also written and composed songs on the “Pura Vida” album about spirituality and romance. Songs such as the title track, “Pura Vida” and “Legend”, expose a spiritual feel in musical arrangement and content. “Chapatti Girl”, “Angel” and “This house ain’t cold no more” are compositions that reflect the “non activist” side of the band.
“Pura Vida”, in Spanish, means pure life and after 28 years of performing, composing and writing music based on struggle and human interests, the album title reflects the band’s commitment towards global justice and world peace.
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