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Aluta Lichaba

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Like many performers Aluta has spent a large part of her life on the road. But Aluta’s ‘on the road’ journey is a world far away from what most us know or understand. Moving from county to country was not about stages and shows, rather, it was about survival; A life of secrecy, in constant hiding and keeping out of the eyes of the right wing apartheid police. This was all that Aluta knew growing up. It was normal for her.

Aluta’s parents were staunch committed ANC members and the struggle against Apartheid. Existence in South Africa was not safe for them resulting in Aluta’s family going into exile when she was two years old. Lesotho offered a place of initial safety and hiding, until word got out that the Apartheid police were tracking her dad, as they believed he was in possession of – and transporting - very sensitive ANC documents. Allies of the ANC people transported her family to an undisclosed location, an ANC army camp for refugees in Dakwa, Tanzania. The purpose for keeping it undisclosed until families arrived was purely for security reasons. There after they moved from camp to camp where other ANC SA citizens were living in.

At age 13 Aluta - as with all teenagers of ANC members - was initiated as an ANC pioneer. Some of the elements the process involved was teaching the youth about the ‘”Freedom Charter”, what being a leader is, about the movement, the revolution, the struggle, and just how important the role of the ANC was.

So one has to ask - in this secret, chaotic, scary existence – how did the love for music come into Aluta’s world? Well, she will tell you that for black SA people living in exile, music was a source of comfort. Music was a way to forget about how hard it was, yet a way to remember, a way to be connected with South Africa. She remembers growing up listening to a lot of Miriam Mekebe, Jonas Qwanga and Brenda Fassie. Added they got to hear a ton international Jazz music. But Aluta’s dream was to be a standup comedian, a Queen or a President of a country. For her humor was another tool of survival in exile.

In 1994 Aluta and her family returned to SA for the first democratic elections. Ten years down the line, Aluta had been hanging out with some of SA’s finest hip-hop kwaito crews. Through them, she heard about the 1 Giant leap auditions and off she went, armed with one thought, “its not enough for me to just believe in myself, it’s a bonus if someone else does too”. And that’s exactly what happened, Aluta landed on a track with Michael Stipe (REM), on 1 Giant 2, got offered an Artist recording contract with Jamie Catto (IGL Producer) and a South African management deal. The sweetest part of all was that Aluta had no idea who Jamie Catto or Michael Stipe were. All she knew was to take a chance and put her rough diamond inexperienced self out there.

Between the 1 Giant Leap filming and the Aluta and the Mystics recording, Aluta has spent her time in ‘artist development mode; A strategic decision taken by artist management to keep her out of the limelight of the SA music scene and rather focus on developing her skills whilst still being able to with her son, Nathi, in her small home town. Little Nathi is four years old. Aluta is a single mother and sole income provider for him.

Aluta is a beautiful, gorgeous woman, with a heart of strength and a gentle nurturing soul. She has a love for life, accompanied with an amazing ability to find humor and fun in all that she does no matter what. Asked how she felt when informed that Jamie Catto would be flying her to the UK to record the Aluta and the Mystics album ? Her response “I was so excited I nearly jumped out of my black skin”!

 

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The Struggle Continues

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