Gimme Hope Jo’Anna

In July of 1989, I took an aeroplane for the first time and left my country of birth, South Africa. I took the trip with my uncle and godfather, my sister, and my cousin. The four of us had planned an adventure with my uncle taking the lead. The destination? Mauritius – the island where my dad, my uncle and many relatives had been born. For him it was a trip back to his birthplace; for the three of us it was a trip to discover the place where one of our parents had been born.

The 10 days we spent together on the island were magical. We had a lot of fun and made many memories. I got to spend time with my godfather (whom I loved a lot), and I got to know my cousin even better. It was a time before I graduated from university as a teacher, and a time when my sister had been working for a year. We spent moments on the beach, shopped in Port Louis, and met my cousin’s grandfather who took us to so many places in his old car (which broke down a few times!).

For our holiday, my uncle had booked a bungalow which was near one of the big hotels along the Mauritian beach. At night we would head over to the hotel to drink cocktails and dance to the music played by the DJ. At that time there was a song we loved to dance to – a song that was not being played in South Africa at that time.

While dancing to Gimme Hope Jo’Anna by Eddy Grant under the warm Mauritian skies, I could not understand why such a catchy tune was not being played on South African radios – especially as his other songs were being aired. It was only a few years later when I was able to listen carefully to the lyrics, did I understand why it had been banned from the country. It was a song against Apartheid, the government of South Africa, and the people who ran Johannesburg.

Knowing the meaning of the song’s lyrics, however, does not change the pleasant memories I have of the time I first heard and danced to the song.

Do you remember hearing this song? Where was the first time you listened to it?

(This post is linked to Hugh’s 51 weeks: 51 favourite songs from the past. Join us with a song of your own.)

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22 thoughts on “Gimme Hope Jo’Anna

    1. It was played in South Africa years after my trip to Mauritius. I remember it becoming popular and people didn’t believe me when I said I had heard it before 🙂

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  1. I’ve never heard this song before, Colline, but what a powerful song it is. I had to look it up on Google for some more information and found out that the song was a hit in the UK in 1988 This surprised me so much, as I love the music of the ’80s, yet can not remember this one at all.
    I can well see why you loved to dance to it. It’s such a catchy tune and one which everyone can sing along to the chorus. Your memories of it are wonderful and you certainly took me along with you when sharing them. Thank you.

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    1. What a pity – it means that so many people did not hear the message that he was conveying with this song. I am sure he was one of the people a one the many when the South African constitution changed.

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      1. I was probably just in another world at the time it was released, although was living and working in London at the time. There was a TV programme I watched every week called ‘The Chart Show’ but I still don’t recall ever seeing the video or hearing the song.

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