SABC to start playing 90% local music. What does it mean for Local Reggae?

In a radical unexpected move, the public broadcaster has taken a decision to implement 90% of local music across it 18 Radio Stations. In the media statement released on 11 May, the South African Broadcasting Corporation [SABC] announced that it has met with various stakeholders to ensure that the broadcaster prioritises more local content that reflects the diversity of South African Cultures.

All credit due to one man, Don Laka, a jazz musician who took it upon himself to take on the big daunty task of confronting the powers that be, and from the onset, he included Reggae as part of South Africa’s music culture.

The statement further states that the music played will be across all genres with a special focus on genres such as Kwaito, Jazz, Reggae and Gospel. A trial that will stand for three months – subject to feedback from listeners.

What does it mean for local Reggae is up for speculation, but one thing is certain, Reggae artists have to stop complaining and start working hard. Seize the opportunity and be part of the movement. When the news broke out other artists in other genres tweeted, congratulated, voiced their opinions whether favorable or not. But there was hardly any voice from Reggae massive, the genre that is to benefit the most.

The questions arises, what local Reggae music will be played, save for Lucky Dube’s? If we are always complaining that reggae is marginalised and never gets airplay, it goes without saying that there won’t be much reggae played on the radio stations once the quota is in effect, because they don’t have the music. Therefore it is up to the Reggae artists to submit their music for airplay. Are our local reggae artists submitting to radio stations? Is their music registered in order for them to get their royalties? Do they have any marketing and promotion strategy to place their music on a national public forum? Are we ready?

What about the fans and supporters of Reggae Dancehall, will they be calling in the radio stations in numbers to request Reggae? Will they start tweeting about their favourite Reggae and Dancehall artists? Will they stop paying lip service and actually start walking the talk?

This is an opportunity for Reggae music in South Africa and we must not let it slip. Reggae fans, supporters, DJ’s and promoters, we must bombard the radio stations with requests for your favourite Reggae song. They don’t know about it, so we must make them aware. We must call, tweet, send messages and make requests for Reggae and Dancehall music. We should not just sit and wait for things to happen for us, We must Act. We must be part of the movement, show solidarity and use our music to carry the message. We got a role to play, so lets get cracking.

The artists must also seize the opportunity. They must submit their music, they must be strategic. Their music must be registered. They must just stop complaining and see this a the beginning of something.

This is big news for South Africa, if we can pull this off, we might just put an end to cultural imperialism.

We thank you Bra Don for your activisim that included all genres and everybody. We thank you Chief Officer Mr Hlaudi for taking a bold step.