JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - 30 August 2008, Simphiwe Dana during the 2008 Standard Bank Joy of Jazz held in Newtown, Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo by Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images

Therese Owen

Simphiwe Dana has returned with a vengeance, quite literally. Her song, State of Emergency, which will be released digitally on Youth Day, is a seering indictment on the state of the nation today and as it was all those years back.

Musically the song sees Simphiwe at her challenging and haunting best.

The subtle beats build up menacingly, invoking the feelings of those dark days.

Vocally, she has invoked the spirit of early Bob Marley days as there is a hint of protest chanting.

“State of Emergency is about the upheavals and the boycotts of then and now,” explains the singer-cum-socio-political-commentator.

“There are so many similarities between then and now.

“Something didn’t happen right during the change over process which means we are going backwards as a country. The reconciliation did not translate into transformation.”

“With the high levels of youth unemployment whether they have an education or not means that we’re going to have more uprisings.

“This is going to be the biggest challenge in the next few years. We are in trouble.”

Dana says she wrote the song because she believes that a song has not been written about what we went through as a country.

“I wanted to write this song because it hasn’t been done right yet. Maybe we don’t want to remember the past which is why we can’t fix the present.”

“I grew up in the rural areas and the first time I saw a white man was when I was eight.

“I never interacted with white people until I went to college in Port Elizabeth.

“Before that I had never been looked down on merely because of the colour of my skin.”

“I remember sitting with my friends drinking on the pavement and this old white guy walked past and told us that this is not the township and we must throw our bottles in the bins!”

The song deals with these feelings of anger but also with the current situation in SA nearly 20 years into democracy.

State of Emergency should be downloaded by all free thinking South Africans this Youth Day.

The song will be available exclusively for digital download on Vodafone Live and the video will also debut on Youtube on the same day.

Excerpts from State of Emergency by Simphiwe Dana:

Black bodies strewn in the streets

Fires burning

Brothers lost

John Vorster Square, Verwoerd, Security police, trending in the streets

State of emergency

State sponsored black on black violence, uprisings, stayaways, boycotts,

no education, stand, for the fire in your heart stand for the

fruits of your living

Prayers and wailings in Soweto They take everything to God,

For me they take everything to God Where are the youth of 1976?

When our children die

In this democracy

Education or not

Only poverty reigns, in our street

Where are the youth of 1976?

Sellout black leaders

Forgotten memories, festering in the youth

White institutionalised deceit in our constitution

Tell them the revolution has fallen In your prayers