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Yakhal’ Inkomo

An explosive bellow from the spiritual heart of the black experience, saxophonist and composer Winston Mankunku’s Ngozi’s Yakhal’ Inkomo is at once a call to action, an open letter and a prayer. Recorded in 1968, as a cry mourning the Sharpeville massacre, and reinvoked in Mongane Wally Serote’s 1972 collection of poems, it tasks us with imagining dispossessed feelings in common as the basis of a new community. This is Breeze Yoko’s response.

Yakhal’Inkomo was recorded by Winston “Mankunku” Ngozi in 1968 with Early Mabuza, Agrippa Magwaza and Lionel Pillay.  Yakhal’ Inkomo (the bull bellows) is the final cry of the bull on the way to slaughter.  In 1972, Dr Mongane Wally Serote published his first collection of poetry of the same name. In the intro he writes: “I once saw Mankunku Ngozi blowing his saxophone. Yakhal’ inkomo. His face was inflated like a balloon, it was wet with sweat, his eyes huge and red. He grew tall, shrank, coiled into himself, uncoiled and the cry came out of his horn. That is the meaning of Yakhal’ inkomo.”

In 2015, writer Percy Mabandu published the monograph “Yakhal’ Inkomo: Portrait of Classic Jazz” studying the song and the musician who breathed it into life. It locates the man, the art and the environment that shaped them.

Read our conversation with Breeze Yoko, on the thinking and execution of his adaptation of Yakhal’inkomo.



This graphic story features in the Chronic (August 2016), an edition in which we explore ideas around mythscience, science fiction and graphic storytelling. In opposition to the idea of the future as progress – a linear march through time – we propose a sense of time is innately human: “it’s time” when everyone gets there.

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