"Gimme Hope Jo'anna" as written by and Eddy Grant....
Well Jo'anna she runs a country
She runs in Durban and the Transvaal
She makes a few of her people happy, oh
She don't care about the rest at all
She's got a system they call apartheid
It keeps a brother in a subjection
But maybe pressure can make Jo'anna see
How everybody could a live as one

Gimme hope, Jo'anna
Hope, Jo'anna
Gimme hope, Jo'anna
'Fore the morning come
Gimme hope, Jo'anna
Hope, Jo'anna
Hope before the morning come

I hear she make all the golden money
To buy new weapons, any shape of guns
While every mother in black Soweto fears
The killing of another son
Sneakin' across all the neighbors' borders
Now and again having little fun
She doesn't care if the fun and games she play
Is dangerous to everyone

She's got supporters in high up places
Who turn their heads to the city sun
Jo'anna give them the fancy money
Oh to tempt anyone who'd come
She even knows how to swing opinion
In every magazine and the journals
For every bad move that this Jo'anna makes
They got a good explanation

Even the preacher who works for Jesus
The Archbishop who's a peaceful man
Together say that the freedom fighters
Will overcome the very strong
I want to know if you're blind Jo'anna
If you want to hear the sound of drums
Can't you see that the tide is turning
Oh don't make me wait till the morning come

Lyrics submitted by Marco_V

"Gimme Hope Joanna" as written by Eddy Grant G Brand

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Gimme Hope Jo'anna song meanings
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  • +1
    Song MeaningThis song is very important in South Africa is probably the most popular song in the country. The meaning is very important and I am surprised it is not discussed here. Jo'anna most certainly refers to Johannesburg, the largest and in many respects capital city of South Africa during Apartheid, a centre of the Apartheid government and legislative headquarters. Apartheid, meaning 'separation' in the South African language Afrikaans, was a period during which many different races were segregated in every respect, with laws favouring the white minority of the country in everything ranging from education to healthcare access (see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…). For example, non-white people could not live in the same areas, go to the same hospitals, study, work, or shop in the same places as whites and were restricted to a poorer quality of life in every respect.

    This song is important because it was a message not just to the world about what was happening in South Africa at the time, but also a message of hope to the millions living under segregation during Apartheid. It is for this reason that this song was banned by the Apartheid regime in South Africa. It was part of a worldwide campaign of sanctions against South Africa from the rest of the world that lead to the fall of Apartheid.

    The first chorus refers to Jo'anna as the regime that at the time implemented and enforced racist laws to 'run' South Africa. Durban is another major city in South Africa, and Transvaal an area - indicating that these laws effect many but only a few (the white minority) are 'made happy'. The next lines introduce Apartheid, and how it keeps 'a brother' (non white population) in 'subjection'. It is noted that international pressure that has begun (sanctions against South Africa) and condemnation of Apartheid may make the Jo'anna stop these acts and alws.

    The chorus, while happy, can be seen as a sincere plea to the government to give an indication that they are willing to change their extreme views and policies so that the non-white population can have a chance at a better life.

    The second verse mentions 'golden money'. About 60% of old gold in the world was mined in Johannesburg, and this was the basis of the economy. This was used to arm the government ('shape of guns'). 'Soweto' was the largest township near Johannesburg. This is a poor, informal settlement area where blacks were forced to live. If you've ever seen the movie District 9, the area in which aliens live is a representation of Soweto. Police patrols were fequent and many deaths occured during unrests in Soweto. 'Sneakin across all the neighbours borders...' refers to South Africa invading neighbouring countries like Namibia in response to sanctions and other political action against the Apartheid regime.

    'She's got supporters in high up places' may refer to the fact that political support of the Apartheid regieme came from the USA during the cold war for reasons I will not go into. 'Who turn their heads to the city sun' refers to Sun City - an exclusive luxry resorts for whites only in SA. 'She even knows how to swing opinion..' describes how good the Apartheid government were at explaining and arguing that Apartheid was needed in SA and for example, labelling Nelson Mandela as a terrorist etc.

    The last verse refers to Archbishop Demond Tutu, an important South African anti revolutionary who, together with Mandela and others, oversaw peaceful protests and won a Nobel prize for this. 'Can't you see that the tide is turning...' refers to the fact that many countries had sanctioned SA and it was struggling to survive.

    This is probably Eddy Grant's most serious and content rich songs, hope you learnt something.
    Tarkaon January 17, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThank you! I was quite surprised when I did not find the song here before, because for me it is one of the most important political songs. Now someone added it. The text is a big contrast to the happy sound. That gives the impression of strength when fighting against Apartheid. It is (was) important to have such a powerful song about that.
    Niedersächsinon April 25, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have NEVER heard this song in the US, despite its being out for approximately 20 years. The first time I heard it was in the Middle East, in Jordan in the late 1990's, then a million times again while living in Europe. But still nothing in the US. Why? Instead, we got that horrible "ain't gonna play Sun City" crap, which paled in comparison both lyrically and musically.

    Great, great song and the first time I heard it, I about fell out of my car.
    Schlomoon January 16, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI adore this song! It could have been angry, bitter, or despairing, but instead it is a song that really does lift your heart and hopes.

    I had the good fortune to catch Eddy Grant playing the midday slot at a festival last year: in the space of just a few songs, he had turned a field of a couple of hundred hungover grass-slugs into several thousand dancing maniacs with grins like pianos. I saw The Prodigy and Rage Against the Machine that weekend too. They were awesome beyond belief, and yet, as hard as I find this to believe myself, Eddy was even better!
    TragedyTrouserson May 15, 2009   Link

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