When Songs Become Hate Speech

South Africa's version of virulent Tea Party rhetoric is set to music and has blacks and whites worried.

Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images
Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images

Terre’Blanche’s AWB supporters at first vowed revenge and warned people from coming to South Africa in just over two months to attend the FIFA World Cup championships–warning that visitors cannot be safe. While the AWB later withdrew the threat of vengeance, they continued to warn countries against sending teams and tourists to what they called the crime capital of the world.

White opposition parties joined in the condemnation of the ANC. But criticism also came from black politicians, including a former national chairman of the ANC. Mosiuoa Lekota, who now heads the breakaway opposition COPE party, bitterly attacked the ANC for its stance on struggle songs–comparing it to the run up to the genocides in Rwanda and Hitler’s Germany.

“If the ruling party continues on this path, then any disaster will be on their heads,” he said. “In Rwanda, in only three months time,” he continued, “a million people were slaughtered for nothing else than that they were a particular tribe. Hitler taught the youth of Germany the same thing.”

Lekota condemned the ANC and Jacob Zuma for not reining in Julius Malema. Indeed, at the moment Terre’Blanche was being murdered, Malema was receiving a hero’s welcome from President Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, where he repeatedly sang the song and threatened to bring Mugabe’s land and mine-seizure policies to South Africa.

“I may be an African, but I feel uneasy when I hear these songs, because I feel somewhere somebody is encouraging young people to do these things …,”Lekota said. “The government should take actions against anybody who says you must kill, even if it is in a song.”

Kenneth Walker is an independent journalist based in South Africa and the CEO of Lion House Strategic Communications.

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