The radio in Africa has shaped culture by allowing listeners to negotiate modern identities and sometimes fast-changing lifestyles. Through the medium of voice and mediated sound, listeners on the station – known as Radio Bantu, then Radio Zulu, and finally Ukhozi FM – shaped new understandings of the self, family and social roles.
Radio became a conduit for many talents squeezed aside by apartheid repression. Besides Winnie Mahlangu and K.E. Masinga and a host of other talents opened by radio, the exiles Lewis Nkosi and Bloke Modisane made a niche and a network of identities and conversations which stretched from the heart of Harlem to the American South.
Nkosi and Modisane were working respectively in BBC Radio drama and a short-lived radio transcription centre based in London which drew together the threads of activism and creativity from both Black America and the African continent at a critical moment of the late empire. Radio Soundings is a fascinating study that shows how, throughout its history, Zulu radio has made a major impact on community, everyday life and South African popular culture, voicing a range of subjectivities which gave its listeners a place in the modern world.