Eddy Grant – Give Me Hope Jo’anna [1988]

Alright, time to get onto some Eddy Grant. Its been a long time comming, but lets kick off with one of my favourites of Grants. Now, in fairness, its release date definately went against it, music was changing noticably in ’88 and despite being at the forefront of the synth boom in the early 80’s, Grant didnt use his sizeable experience in this field to push the boundaries with “Give Me Hope”. I would imagine the main emphasis was the message not the track itself and sadly I think that it may have suffered at the time because of this. Listening now however, musical trends passed and recycled since its release, I can at least appreciate the track for what it is. An uplifting call to South Africa during the twilight days of Aparthied, designed soley to get people up dancing and singing. Something Grant is a master at.

From Wikipedia
“Gimme Hope Jo’anna” is a song originally by Eddy Grant, a well-known anti-apartheid reggae anthem from the 1980s, written during the apartheid era in South Africa. The song was banned by the South African government when it was released. It reached #7 in the UK Singles Chart, becoming Grant’s first Top 10 hit for more than five years.

“Jo’anna” in the lyrics represents not only the city of Johannesburg, but also the South African Government that ran the apartheid system. Soweto is a black township near Johannesburg, notable for its role in the resistance to the apartheid laws. The archbishop is Desmond Tutu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his opposition to apartheid.

“She’s got supporters in high up places, Who turn their heads to the city sun” represents the unwillingness of the international community, at first, to take action against the South African government for using the apartheid system. It is also a reference to Sun City, the South African luxury resort. “She even knows how to swing opinion, In every magazine and the journals” represents the propaganda which the media contributed which attributed to the success of the Apartheid system.

Eddy Grant performed a version of this song at the closing ceremony of the Indian Premier League T-20 cricket tournament on 25 May 2009. The song included a short reprise with the lyrics “…Jo’anna still runs this country” and the rest of the reprise in present tense.


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