As a South African there are times where one can experience incredible highs, like watching Nelson Mandela become President of South Africa, the run up to the FIFA World Cup with its awesome stadiums and marvel at our rich culture and beautiful landscapes . There are incredible low’s as well, these are generally related to issues of crime in our country, especially when it touches your life or the lives of your loved ones. These are things that you tell yourself can happen anywhere and in any country.
Over the past week I have started to feel uncomfortable and that has never happened before.
A very vocal youth leader in our countries governing political party, Julius Malema, has at gatherings and social political occasions enjoyed singing “struggle songs”. Julius has recently sang, what the ANC has tried to placate us with as another hit from way back then, a struggle song with the lyric “Kill the Boers, they are rapists.”
For those who are unfamiliar with South Africa politics, struggle songs were sung by those oppressed by the white regime that governed South Africa during the Apartheid years. They were sung to empower those who were oppressed and had lyrics which spoke of the Whites and Boers of South Africa as well as referring to the war which they were fighting against Apartheid. The term Boer, which in the Afrikaans language refers to farmers, is also used to refer to the minority white population of South Africa with Dutch Heritage and who speak the Afrikaans language.
The minority referred to in the struggle song sung by Julius Malema are not pleased, firstly they see this as “hate speech” towards them as a cultural group in South Africa and secondly the farmers in South Africa are unhappy as the farm murders in South Africa are on the rise.
We have been told by our South African government to not take these songs literally but understand that these are the struggle songs that they sung during the Apartheid years, that even their ‘white’ freedom fighters sung along with them.
I have only one thing to say to the South African Government who have been in power since 1994. The struggle is over. The Freedom Fighters of the ANC are now the ministers that are sitting in parliament and who should take every South Africans concerns to heart under the banner of the Rainbow Nation that we profess to be. Those struggle songs were rightly sung in the Apartheid years, the government of the Nationalist Party brought strife and heartache to the lives of many in South Africa, but the ‘war’ has been won, those who were in power and brought Apartheid into South Africa are dead.
In our current Democratic South Africa do these ‘struggle songs’ still have a place, sung in our present context do they not constitute hate speech towards certain groups in our South African population? Is racism still being allowed by our current Government? If we continue to refer to the past how can we possibly move forward? If we continue to lay blame at the feet of the sons of the ancestors of Apartheid how can we grow as a country?
This week my father, who is of Anglo ancestry, was referred to as a “drunk Boer” by a Zulu man in his place of business when a disagreement arose. It makes me question just how damaging these struggle songs are in the “New South Africa”?
Yesterday, the Afriforum Youth tried to deliver a Memorandum to the ANC Youth League at the ANC Headquarters ,Luthuli House, to bring to Malema’s attention that words had consequences. They were not allowed access and their memorandum and list containing the names of 1 600 victims of farm killings was thrown to the floor.
Tomorrow, South Africa is celebrating Human Rights Day, it begs the question whose Human Rights are we celebrating? If it is not every South African in the Rainbow Nation and speakers of at least one of South Africa’s eleven official languages then it is a damn shame! Or is it sham?