Santa Barbara, California - As South Africans bask in the glory of US President-elect Barack Obama's historical moment - they contributed financially, canvassed, and urged colleagues and co-workers here to vote for change that could change the world - there was something else that South Africans did. An ex-South African composed the music that was played at Obama's victory celebrations.

The haunting, triumphant victory tune which played when Obama walked out on stage in Chicago's Grant Park to give his victory speech was by former South African composer, Trevor Rabin. He was a member of the one-time South African pop group Rabbitt. The tune was from the movie, Remember the Titans.

Rabin's family had a long involvement in the anti-apartheid movement, the Los Angeles Times said in its weekend edition. Hearing his music accompany Obama's victory celebrations was especially moving for Rabin, who was born in South Africa.

His cousin, Donald Woods, was a newspaper editor who spoke out against apartheid and fled the country after the death of his friend, Steve Biko, who was immortalised in Peter Gabriel's song, Biko. Sydney Kentridge, one of Rabin's cousins, prosecuted the South African government on behalf of the Biko family.

"We were a very politically active family," Rabin says. "My father was one of the first lawyers in South Africa to have a black partner, so I grew up very aware of the struggle going on. Coming from that background, it really gave me the chills to have my music be a part of the election of the first black American president."

Why did Obama - or someone in his camp - pick Rabin's music? The Times columnist, Patrick Goldstein, wrote: "I have no official word, though the obvious theory would be that it provided a nice fit for the Obama campaign's theme of inclusiveness and openness to change."

An Obama supporter, Rabin says he would happily make himself available if the president-elect needed any musical assistance for his inauguration.

"I'm just happy to be associated with him in any way," he says. "One of my friends who called on Tuesday said: 'Wow, you've been immortalised!' But for me, it's just nice that anyone recognised the music."

  • Veven Bisetty is a former Daily News journalist and is now resident in the United States.