Girish Mahajan (Editor)


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Stylistic origins  World music Traditional music roots music Pop rock Indie rock
Cultural origins  Mid 1980s, United States, United Kingdom
Typical instruments  Widely variable, though drums or percussion are constant

Jaiva or Township Jive ("TJ") is a subgenre of South African township music and African dance form which has influenced Western break dance and emerged from the shebeen culture of the apartheid era townships.


Influences and particularity

While closely associated with mbaqanga, Township Jive more broadly incorporates some influences from mariba and kwaito rather than mbaqanga; it is synonymous with none of these. To the extent that mariba influences TJ, it may be somewhat sanitised as TJ broke into the international commercial arena.

Emergence in world music circles

Also featured on the Graceland album were The Boyoyo Boys, who received additional press coverage when Malcolm McLaren allegedly plagiarised their song "Puleng" and released it as the hit "Double Dutch", capitalising on the emergence of breakdance and hip-hop.

Additional momentum for world beat attention to South African music developed as a result of international attention to the demise of apartheid and Nelson Mandela's 70th birthday concert in Wembley Stadium, London in 1988.


According to Ambrose Ehirim, a US-based Nigeria specialist, township music traces to the 1950s when it was proscribed by South African police. This is contradicted by the assertion of anti-apartheid activist/musician Johnny Clegg, that "by the 1960s, the development of umbaqanga hadn't even really started". Mbaqanga or Umbaquanga has been characterised as urban pop music "with high-pitched, choppy guitar and a powerful bass line" influenced by "funk, reggae, American R&B, soul and drawing on South African Marabi, gospel music". It draws on both kweli and maribi.

Township Jive is closely associated with the development of baquanga, umbaquanga or mbaqanga but is distinguished in that it is more closely associated with emergent international trends and not as insular and rooted in tradition as mbaqanga. Christopher Ballantine traces the "shift from imitating American jazz to localizing the sound with African features. This he connects to the emergence of the ideology of New Africanism". While the international market was absorbing Township Jive under the swirl of commercial activity culminating in the McLaren copyright infringement lawsuit and the subsequent release of triumphant BBoy's new album was preferred amongst a more elite listening audience closely associated with the black diasphora consciousness movements.


The homogenisation of Township Jive with US and UK culture, due to globalisation, is viewed by African artists as a threat to the preservation of their local tradition and credibility. Thus, artists focus on maintaining an emotional link between customer and brand. This explains why transnational corporations are much less interested in homogenising or Americanizing kwaito music because true kwaito represents and dictates South African experience. Americanizing kwaito, as is many artists' opinion, can potentially dilute the substance kwaito was originally based on.

On the upside, critical awareness of TJ has enhanced appreciation of fusion artists and others influenced by its style. For instance, Vibration Bookings bills its artist Nomfusi as a proponent of "a new style where South African Township Jive ("Jaiva") meets Motown". And the Boyoyo Boys have, subsequent to the copyright scandal, signed by Rounder Records which released TJ Today in 1998.


Jaiva Wikipedia