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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU celebrates its 18th anniversary Solidarity Forever released International Aids Day

24 November 2003

The media are invited to a gala evening at which the Congress of South African Trade Unions celebrates 18 years of struggle for workers' rights, International Aids Day and the release of Solidarity Forever, the workers' songs recorded by the stars of S outh Africa's music.

It will be a memorable evening. Invited guests include ANC President Thabo Mbeki, Former President Nelson Mandela, Deputy President Jacob Zuma, SACP General Secretary Blade Nzimande, Gauteng Premier and former general secretary of COSATU, Mbazima Shilo wa, and a glittering array of personalities from government, trade unions, business, arts and culture, and civil society.

More than a thousand workers and guests will commemorate 18 years of fighting for national liberation and to transform the lives of working people. They will pay tribute to COSATU's part in our liberation, from the mass stayaways of the late 1980s, whi ch brought the apartheid regime to its knees, to the constructive role it plays today, with its alliance partners, in strengthening democracy in the post-1994 South Africa.

The evening will also mark International Aids Day by remembering the tragedy of the people who we have lost prematurely to the HIV/Aids epidemic, but also welcome the Cabinet's adoption of a national plan for the prevention and treatment plan, includin g the roll-out of antiretroviral drugs too all those who need them, which gives new hope to those living with HIV.

The highlight of the evening will be the release of the historic recording of workers' music, performed by the following stars of SA music at the COSATU 8th National conference in September, on a night that will be treasured in the memory of all those privileged to be there. It was produced by Chissa and Gallo Music under the direction of music legend, Hugh Masekela. He was joined on stage by:

  • Sibongile Khumalo
  • Bambata
  • Chicco Twala
  • Busi Mhlongo
  • Jabu Khanyile
  • Letta Mbuli
  • Hash'elimhlophe
  • Phuzekhemisi
  • Vusi Mahlasela
  • Kutu Lebogo
  • Jonas Gwangwa
  • Choirs from SADTU and POPCRU

This recording was a world first, a groundbreaking collaboration between labour and musicians. It will promote the culture of South African workers, for whom music has always been important. At all levels of the trade union, from the shop floor to nati onal congresses, from picket lies to mass demonstrations, workers use songs to express their anger, their determination, their joy, their grief and their solidarity. This CD, DVD and cassette, recorded before thousands of delegates from COSATU's affili ates encapsulates some of the very best workers' songs, many with a very South African flavour, others, like the title song, Solidarity Forever, an anthem of the international labour movement.

We hope this release will encourage, recognise and reward artists who produce music that relates to the plight of working people, promote the best of our cultural traditions and create a growing, new audience for this kind of music. At the end of the e vening, there will be an auction of CDs and cassettes signed by the artists and political leaders present and unsigned copies will be for sale.

Note to labour reporters: Please pass this notice on to your arts and culture and society reporters, who I am sure will want to attend.

Patrick Craven Acting COSATU Spokesperson

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