Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony

Lee Hirsch. | 103 minutes. Artisan Entertainment.

Amandla! is a stylish, well-researched documentary that testifies to the power of music as a tool of salvation. Through interviews with South Africa’s leading black musicians, it chronicles the importance of music in the struggle against apartheid as well as the lineage of individual songs, demonstrating how one musical idea could bring solidarity across generations and social groups: from condemned prisoners to rebel soldiers to domestic workers.

In one of Amandla!‘s most poignant segments, Sophie Mgcina launches into an impromptu rendition of “Madam Please”: “Madam, please, / Before you ask me if your children are fine, / Ask me when I last saw mine.” The scars of apartheid are everywhere in Amandla!, but for each act of injustice, a song was there to greet it. The film opens and closes with scenes from the exhumation and dignified reburial — nearly 40 years after his execution — of Vuyisile Mini, a noted protest singer and activist. In the words of one of Mini’s friends, “He went to the gallows singing.”


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.