“Life imitated art in early 1980 when South African school children, fed up with an inferior apartheid-era education system, took to chanting the lyrics of Pink Floyd‘s ‘Another Brick in the Wall.’ The song, with its memorable line stating, “We don’t need no education,” had held the top spot on the local charts for almost three months, a total of seven weeks longer than it did in America. By May 2, 1980, the South African government had issued a ban on ‘Another Brick in the Wall,’ creating international headlines.”
How a song about rigid school rules in England became banned in South Africa is a fantastic lesson in cultural diffusion and glocalization (where the global becomes intensely local). Here we see an historical example of a global cultural phenomenon taking on local political dimensions. If you are interested in teaching more about the social and historical content of music, check out TeachRock.org.
Questions to Ponder: Why would this song resonate in South Africa? How might the video/lyrics map onto the South African situation?