The Liberation Project is driven from South Africa and features a unique collaboration of musicians mainly from South Africa, Italy and Cuba who have joined forces to celebrate their liberation struggles from various different corners of the world with the main focus being on music from South Africa, Italy and Cuba. Musicians from France, La Reunion, Guinea, Burundi, the USA, Brazil and the United Kingdom have also contributed.
Throughout history, music and protest songs have inspired and celebrated social change. Apartheid was a system of racial segregation in South Africa enforced through legislation by the National Party (NP) which was the governing party from 1948 to 1994. Under apartheid, the rights, associations, and movements of the majority black inhabitants and other ethnic groups were limited and white minority rule was maintained. Music united South Africans at a time where every other aspect of life was dictated by race and culture.

Music played a key role in both driving change and creating harmony during the Apartheid Regime. Music communicated messages through lyrics that had politically subversive meanings. It also allowed international audiences a view into the injustices suffered by the oppressed racial groups in South Africa. It is with great pride that this project offers us an opportunity to showcase our fight for liberation to the world.

The common thread and conceptualiser to this project is Dan Chiorboli, who, having been born in Ferrara, and grown up in South Africa during the Apartheid era, is all too familiar with the struggle that occurred on his door step. His passion for the subject and the music from both countries has led to a strong desire to collaborate with South African and Italian artists to produce an album representing both cultures and their independent journeys to liberation.


Nelson Mandela and the Cuban Connection

Mandela was inspired by Fidel and the Cuban Revolution in 1959 when he began a South African resistance militia to end racial oppression. “Any and every source was of interest to me,” Mandela wrote in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. “I read works by and about Che Guevara, Mao Tse-tung, and Fidel Castro.”

Furthermore, after his release from prison in 1990, Mandela travelled to Cuba to meet his friend in person and to thank him for sending soldiers to Angola during the 1970s and 1980s to fight apartheid regimes, widely believed to be a significant catalyst to the eventual ending of apartheid.

In his speech, Mandela said, “We have come here today recognizing our great debt to the Cuban people. What other country has such a history of selfless behaviour as Cuba has shown for the people of Africa?
Mandela was inspired by Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution in 1959 when he began a South African resistance militia to end racial oppression.
Phil Manzanera (co-producer on the album) encountered his first guitar aged six in Cuba. His earliest musical accomplishments were Cuban folk songs inspired by the Cuban Revolution. Phil recently won a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Latin-UK Awards (LUKAS), which recognised his commitment to Latin American musical styles.
Juan de Marcos, a highly respected figure in Cuban music who was deeply involved in the Buena Vista Social Club, is championing the project himself from Havana. He is working towards producing a special Liberation Project concert in Havana Square in late 2018 and has contributed some historically stirring songs on the album.


The Italian Connection

The province of Emilia Romagna in Italy and the resistance movement in South Africa have enjoyed a long and significant relationship. The city of Reggio Emilia, a central point of the partisan resistance in the Second World War, was the first in the world to sign a pact of solidarity in 1977 with Oliver Tambo (Tambo managed to escape from South Africa and served as president of the ANC in exile.). In 1985, Reggio Emilia was declared “a constituted strength against the regime of apartheid”, the only European city mentioned.

Due to the strong cultural connection with the province of Emilia Romagna and their brave supporting role of Oliver Tambo and the ANC, endorsement and support comes from the Comune of Ferrara and Gianluca Grassi from Comune di Reggio nell’Emilia, together with Roberto Formignani from the Scuola di Musica Moderna in Ferrara, the National Association of Partisan Resistance (ANPI) and Marco Petacco from the Consolato Generale  d’Italia  – Johannesburg.


Why Music?

Music allows cross cultural collaboration and provides a voice for the powerless. Music continues to play a key role in both driving change and creating harmony in South Africa. The projects objectives are to embrace the diversity and similarities between South Africa, Italy and Cuba in order to collaborate with likeminded individuals internationally to produce an album.

Social cohesion is the degree of social integration and inclusion in communities and society at large, to this extent the project plans to make a significant cultural impact through celebration of cultural difference and diversity as well as to break down the social barriers in South Africa and beyond. It will also contribute to the development of Nation-building a process whereby a society with diverse origins, histories, languages, cultures and religions come together within the boundaries of a sovereign state.


The Nelson Mandela Legacy

This project is due to be officially launched during Nelson Mandela Year in 2018 with a big Liberation Concert at the Nelson Mandela Theatre with international and local guests. The concert will be called “The Liberation Concert – Honouring the Legacy of Nelson Mandela”. (Date and artists to be announced shortly).

“Music is a great blessing. It has the power to elevate and liberate us. It sets people free to dream. It can unite us to sing with one voice. Such is the value of music. “It is music and dancing that make me at peace with the world.” Nelson Mandela


The Record

Produced by Neill Solomon, Phil Manzanera and Dan Chiorboli, it features 34 songs over 3 CD’s with 69 musicians from 17 different countries out of 17 studios all over the world contributing their passion and talent for the cause. Throughout history, music and protest songs have inspired and celebrated social change. This record includes well-known and traditional songs on the liberation theme, together with newly penned ones which share the same subject matter. The record is due to be released on 25th May, 2018 with a one-off ‘’not to be missed” concert at The Joburg Theatre .



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