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Exploring Africa Since 1688

Monday, October 8, 2012

Searching for Sugar Man

Here's story with little to do with travel, but a lot to do with art, culture, the unique history of South Africa, and a rock icon who didn't know it.  

If you're a South African who grew up in the 70's, 80's or perhaps even the 90's, you will remember Rodriguez.  As Steve Segerman from South Africa said, he was the soundtrack to our generation.  He was an important voice in the struggle against apartheid albeit known mostly by young, liberal, white South Africans.  What you might not know is that he was unknown at home in Detroit, U.S.A.  I learnt this only last night while watching a 60 Minutes feature on him and the documentary film about his life, "Searching for Sugar Man".

The odd thing is that when I heard about the film earlier this year I made a mental note to catch it sometime, but never realized the significance of the story to me personally.  I had no idea that our rock legend had lived in poverty in Detroit.   Just as Roderiguez had had no idea that in the 80's South Africans were buying half a million of his records.  Not until Steve Segerman tracked him down through his lyrics and brought him to sold-out shows of thousands in South Africa in 1998.

This fairy-tale was discovered by a Swedish man, Malik Bendjelloul, while traveling in South Africa.  His resulting documentary "Searching for Sugarman" won the Special Jury Prize and the Audience Award at Sundance this year.  Get a taste of the remarkable story from 60 Minutes feature right here:

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