Johnny Clegg OBE

Johnny Clegg, OBE –  Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire

The OBE (order of chivalry of British constitutional monarchy) was established by King George V in 1917.  There are currently 5 classes of award, and Johnny has been awarded with the 4th, namely –Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE)

The British Monarch is Sovereign of the Order, with the next senior being Grand Master, currently the Duke of Edinburgh who is the third to hold this title

Why did Johnny Clegg get this award?

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In a John Robbie interview on Radio 702, after hearing that he was to receive this award, Johnny revealed:

That he had been listed for the Honour on the Queen’s 2015 birthday list, & had no inkling that he was going to be named.

He said the call from the British High Commission who delivered the news was like a “bolt out of the blue”, & he was told that they could not give him any information as to who had nominated him for it.

He told John Robbie that he was unsure why he received it, but that it was apparent from other recipients which included non-British actors that being a Brit was not a condition.

In the interview, Johnny sounded cheery & happy, saying it validated his activities over the preceding forty years.

Mr Clegg was born in England, but left for Zimbabwe as a babe in arms.  His family left Zim for Zambia when he was 7, then 2 years later,  they moved to South Africa.

Clegg is a long-standing activist, having taking a stance against conscription in South Africa, & thwarting the apartheid laws of the time by performing with artists across the colour bar.

Mr Clegg told Mr Robbie that despite having to do more stretches to warm up before shows, that live shows remain an important part of his life.  At the time of the interview, 5 months ago, he had  20 shows booked in France set for October,  & that demand was growing in Canada & USA.  London remains important because, as Clegg says, “it’s…… London, after all!”

When asked about his favourite songs, Johnny Clegg referred to Asimbonanga as the pinnacle of his songwriting career, but expressed an enduring fondness for Scatterlings as it was the song that launched his career & got him signed with the UK label that still produces his work today. It was released during the days of cultural boycott, but made it into the top 40 & caused him to give up academics & follow a musical career.

Asimbonanga, the song he wrote for Nelson Mandela who joined him on stage during a performance at the 46664 concert, lists activists who died while incarcerated during the apartheid regime.

One activist, Neil Aggett, is back in the news.  The then Lieutenant Steve Whitehead who tortured him was found to have later received payments from the South African Tax & Revenue Services to the tune of ZAR4m over 194 payments during President Zuma’s watch.

Dr. Pithouse who teaches politics at Rhodes University, said in his paper that,  “One of those choices has been for various government departments to employ Steven Whitehead, the man who tortured Neil Aggett with sadistic delight, as an intelligence consultant. Reading Mangcu and Naidoo is a salutary reminder that Zuma’s ANC disgraces the dead as much as it insults the living.”

Mr Mandela embraced the enemy & used members from the old regime for his security detail to demonstrate how to reconcile & move on, hoping to transition the country into a successful Rainbow Nation.