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If killing the boers is OK, how about blacks, women and gays?

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu has defended Julius Malema’s lusty renditions of the infamous “kill the boers, they are rapists” song, arguing (according to this Sapa article) that the “the lyrics of the song had been quoted out of context”.

“This song was sung for many years even before Malema was born. Julius doesn’t even know who’s the writer of the song. He got it from us [the ANC]. You must blame the ANC, don’t blame Julius. But when you blame the ANC, then contextualise it,” Sapa quotes Mthembu as saying.

By Mthembu’s logic, it is completely acceptable inciting people to kill others, provided there is “context”. What does that mean? Well, so as long as “kill the blacks” was an old apartheid song, embittered racists can chant it from the rooftops. So long as “kill the women” was some sort of misogynist anthem, chauvinists can do the Macarena to it in male-only clubs. So long as “kill the gays” was a major hit for bigots as they set lesbians alight, they can scream it as they throw the gays off bridges and into manholes.

That’s the logic behind ANC’s defence of Julius Malema’s call to kill. But it is, most likely, an unintended logic. Because one gets the sense from Mthembu’s inelegant explanation behind Malema’s behaviour that singing “kill the boers” is acceptable simply because of the group it is targeting. In the ANC’s eyes, this, surely, is a way of putting a “vanquished” people in their place, reinforcing the ANC’s Africanist political hegemony, reminding white Afrikaners — yes, after all, that is what the word “boer” is a term for — that they are “guests” staying in this country at the almighty ANC’s behest, and that their livelihoods, and indeed lives, are at the mercy of the ANC.

The ANC equates the black majority with its own political majority. It equates the Afrikaans minority with a political minority, a minority that is supposedly stubborn, resistant to change and unwilling to accept the political majority’s power. This is a dangerous, unfortunate perspective because it negates the nuances of political thought and tramples on the concepts of individual freedom, liberty and expression. It forgoes any notion of equality and inclusiveness.

The Afrikaners are South Africans and Africans. They are equals and deserve to be treated as such. Provided our Constitution and laws are respected, they are as entitled to live in whichever way they want to, to say and do whatever they want — as any other South African, of any culture, race or creed, should be able to do.

By supporting Malema’s calls for the demise of the Afrikaners, as implied in “kill the boers”, the ANC shows contempt for this concept of equality and individual liberty — and for our Constitution which guarantees this. Why? Because the ANC believes that minorities (whether racial, political or intellectual) require subordination and domination. This impulse shares the very same roots as the heinous National Party’s urge to dominate and subordinate groupings it considered “other” and inferior. But that’s no surprise — whatever its claims to contrary, the ANC has shown again and again that it is cut of the same cloth as the National Party — like its predecessor in power it is racially nationalistic, adhering to the politics of domination and exclusion.

Malema’s recent pronouncements — and the ANC’s sprightly defence of them — are no exception.


  • Alexander Matthews is the editor of AERODROME, an online magazine about words and people featuring interviews, original poetry, book reviews and extracts. He is also a freelance writer, covering travel, culture, life and design. The contributing editor for Business Day WANTED, his journalism has also appeared in House and Leisure, MONOCLE, African Decisions and elsewhere. Contact Alexander here: alexgmatthews(at)


  1. MTC MTC 12 March 2010

    Reuben Maphuta- I like what you said because you put it clearly and without any insults hurled. We as South Africans, of all races and ethnic backrounds, need to learn from each other’s cultures. None of us is better than the other. We just see things differently. To thrive and move one, we have to take a step back and understand our differences and learn to live with them and not fight each other on them. Like Lerato-we need people like this. All races want the same basic thing- singing racist, hateful songs (De La Rey included) harms us more than it should. We should before singing them, think of how it will affect others. This is an ideal yes, but I am so sick of racial tension and insults. I would love us to move on and create a great country where we can stand together and be proud.

  2. MLH MLH 12 March 2010

    ‘Boer’ is used as an epithet for ‘white’. Sadly, the hatred goes far further.
    We have three foreign student lodgers, all black Africans. All of them say that SA black people and particularly the Durban Zulus, are quite the rudest, uncouth people in Africa. If you ask even directions in English, they say, no one will answer you. They simply stare you down.
    Which is quite ironic when an author featured on SAFM today said that the welcome he received in all African countries always displayed the true spirit of ubunthu.
    For shame! What does it take for our people to behave decently to each other? How can they build a life on hatred?

  3. Johan Meyer Johan Meyer 12 March 2010

    @Reuben Maphutha

    I cannot speak for my fellow Afrikaners, but why don’t you submit pleas in Sepedi? I’m asking quite seriously – are there court rules against it, is it simply historical inertia, or do you not wish to? I’d actually prefer such a plea in e.g. Sepedi – that way, less pressure on Afrikaans as having an ‘exceptional status’ and the like. You might also find that quite a few Afrikaners do understand e.g. Sepedi.

  4. George S George S 12 March 2010

    John Everyman
    You are plainly ignorant & should therefore refrain from passing judgment on Afrikaners, the salt of the earth on this continent. It is the culture espoused by Malema and his ilk that is truly backward and out of pace with the global dynamic.

  5. Dave Harris Dave Harris 12 March 2010

    Firstly, songs “freedom” glorifying violence belong in the past and has no place in the open, free society we enjoy today.

    Secondly, Alex’s argument is infantile and a dishonest comparison.

    Thirdly, we should really ask WHY this simmering undercurrent of violence is so pervasive in our society. There is a tension between blacks and whites, the elephant in the room that we all choose to ignore to our peril.

  6. Wolfie Wolfie 12 March 2010

    There are extremists in every culture. The problem however is when such a person become a leader there is a problem. Malema is in my eyes a next Hitler. He must be stoped, asap. I understand there are frustrations under the blacks, but there are also frustrations under the whites, colourds and indians. In this year, no leader can sing a song about killing anyone. Since 1994, 3000 boere were murdered. Not just murdered but some where hanged, burnt with irons,etc. I’ve seen pictures and believe me, it is brutal. This is a emotional thing for all whites. Now the leader of the ANCYL sing this song. Zuma defends malema. The whites see this as a war declaration. Malema dont have respect for anyone,not even his own people. I believe the most blacks are good people. The most whites are good people. For our childrens sake,lets not support the bad guys in the different cultures. THEY CANT BE LEADERS. There is hope if and only if the good people stand up against the Malema’s in this country. Black and white. PEACE

  7. Mark Mark 13 March 2010

    So many ANC members on these fora sound like spoiled little teenagers. You slam their clearly heinous conduct and they resort to the oft heard lines: “Buuuutttt you didn’t say anything when so and so did this! It’s like, so totally not fair! I hate you!!” or something tantamount to “All the cool kids are doing it, daaaaad! Why can’t I?”. It’s really shameful that they wish to conduct political discourse in this manner.

    Special mention for the infantile Siphiwo Sipihwo. Eugene Terblanche commands the attention of a tiny fraction of the population. When he speaks, most sensible white people laugh; he is a joke and I’m totally offended that you bring him out as being indicative of Afrikaner opinion when it suits you. He actually did go to jail for his crimes against black people, so if anything “JuJu” should be treated the same as him; and be locked up for his hate filled tirades. Julius is a force in SA politics! Thousands of youth look up to him and follow his example. When last did you see a bunch of “boere” running around on national TV in AWB uniforms shooting off rifles and shouting “one hi-ace, one grenade”? My God, man, open your eyes before you open your mouth.

    As a parting shot, the so-called ‘Youth League’ over which King Julius reigns allows membership up to the age of 35… so I guess they really never do grow up.

  8. JWS JWS 13 March 2010

    Eventually the excuse of white people being responsible for their failures will be removed, one way or another. Then the ANC-led people of SA will have to make do on their own. Seems to be working well in Zimbabwe, huh?

  9. darkwing darkwing 13 March 2010

    I couldn’t but laugh at John Everyman’s statement of Afrikaners feeling inferior. If there are massive feelings of inferiority, it sits with the black people of this country. I see it every time a black man drives around in a black BMW with a personalised number plate. I see it when black women wear wigs. It screams, ‘See me, I’m important, I’m beautiful!’ Get over that and things might improve.

  10. Peter L Peter L 13 March 2010

    The song also appears to perpetrate a bald LIE – where is the evidence that the Boers or Boere EVER committed rape against black people, or any other people for that matter?
    I have never read any credible accounts of this having occurred.

  11. Dapper Dapper 13 March 2010

    Instead of the media reporting every outburst made by JM, they should concentrate on the ANC’S failure to deliver the promises made to their voting masses.
    Like it or not Malema hates the whites, but lives their life style. Concetrate on lack of service to the majority of black people would have more political impact than keeping, this foolish young man in the spotlight.

  12. Rory Short Rory Short 13 March 2010

    Racism in any form destroys the very fabric of society. It does not matter for what apparent reason it is being practised. It should be wholly condemned.

  13. Dave Joubert Dave Joubert 13 March 2010

    @Siphiwo Siphiwo, are you, by your attack on Alex, condoning the singing of this song?

    Frank, I think you missed Alex’s point. Alex is merely drawing a parallel to show the absurdity and outright wrongness of it all. I don’t think he is putting all black people into a box. I think its great that you openly condemn Malema’s hate gobbledygook.

    Cry the beloved country, for it is going down the tube. Only a concerted outrage from people prepared to debate fairly can put SA back on track.

    How about non violent protest? Or more of it?

  14. Reuben Maphutha Reuben Maphutha 13 March 2010

    I am impressed by the talent the country has, undoubtedly. Your comments remain engraved in my mind.
    It must be noted that Malema proved one thing: that people are still angry and they postponed their anger to sometime in the future. Given how things are in the country we will see much more than what Malema is made of. Explain to me like a two year old how do you remove a personal experience from a person to forgiving and hand it over to Desmond Tutu through the reconciliation commission to forgive on his/her behalf the criminal s who shot my son in front of me? Explain to me how four young white males (waterkloof four) who attacked a man in the middle of the night and their legal justification was that they mistook him for a robber and explain to me justice in that. The question is: could they have mistaken him for a robber if he was white? These are post 1994 events, which explain how artificial our reconciliatory process is/was. We are simply learning to live with each other but deep down we seek justice.
    The truth and reconciliation commission was more like finding a thief in my house with my TV set in his hands and all I could say was: keep it, I forgive you. That is not justice. People need justice and everyday images of their soul battering poverty convince them that the struggle is not over, which is the struggle to survive.

  15. Garg Garg 13 March 2010

    Of course it is OK to kill blacks, women and gays, if they are Boereboeties and betray the revolution. By the way, this context is sarcasm.

    I believe in absolute freedom of speech. Malema should be allowed to say whatever he likes because when you give a fool enough rope, he would hang himself. The fact that we are discussing Malema instead of Shady Shaik’s parole or Zuma’s implicit guilt of the bilateral crimes is evidence that Malema is doing a great job for the ANC.

  16. Carla Bauer Carla Bauer 13 March 2010

    Well, these very capable Afrikaans farmers are gradually leaving for more welcoming places like the Congo – so soon S.A will be rid of them. Then those who hate the “boere” will starve to death, and it would serve them right.

  17. Johan Meyer Johan Meyer 13 March 2010

    Evidence of rapes is presented e.g. in chapter 5 of this dissertation. Citations are given. That’s colonialism for you. Although I do suspect she has one or two dates wrong (but which dissertation committee ever reads the thesis that is about to be defended?)

    Several other studies have been done, and she does give some standard references, but I’m not aware of any review articles that I could refer you to.

  18. storm mcewen storm mcewen 13 March 2010

    Ahem, Alex you speak about the “logic” of the ANC. There is no logic. I attended convent schools and was taught by nuns. One, when she caught us chattering in class, said “empty barrels make the most sound”. I always remember that when I hear the ANC and their inane comments. Unfortunately we can’t just roll them down a hill like many of us would and could do with barrels. The people voted them into power, so we are stuck with them. We, the people who did not vote them into power, can criticise them, dance on their ribs, thunder away it won’t make an iota of difference. Come election time? Put your X where you like, they will be back like the bad pennies they are. The people have been so brainwashed they will vote them back into power. This is Africa, baby. We are very quickly becoming another African basket case. Look north, history doesn’t lie. There is Democracy and then there is African democracy. Go figure!

  19. Maj0be Maj0be 13 March 2010

    Even though i dont agree with da lyrics of the song, i stil fail to see why this calls for a national debate and this uproar… I mean he sang da song at a university rally, with a few hundred student who should know better than go on a killing spree bcos they joind in when Malema sang da ‘kill da boer’ song… But no it made da headlines and turnd it in 2 a call 4 civil war and a genocide… You r just giving Malema 2 much power, that he doesnt have…

  20. Bovril 24 Bovril 24 13 March 2010

    The media in SA are largely responsible for creating a presence for the fat fool Malema. Give him no coverage and he will return to his natural state of irrelevance. But of course this would be asking of the SA media – dominantly trash journalism including the M&G sadly – too much.

    Malema, Zuma and their acolytes are on a different planet to civilised democratic society and debate. They don’t read anything resembling a newspaper that reflects world standards of democracy.

    In fact they are so intellectually and morally bankrupt that they have no concept of responsibility, civilisation or commitment other than to their own tasteless self- enrichment and vote catching of the ignorant masses.

  21. suntosh suntosh 13 March 2010

    Great piece Alex.

    Accountability is needed. Desperately.

    President Zuma MUST explain why Julius Malema is allowed to say what he says. Freedom of expression is a right, but what about the responsibilities?

    Imagine if it was Helen Zille who said, “Kill the blacks, they are all rapists!”
    Geez…. world war 3!

  22. Mondavo_H Mondavo_H 14 March 2010

    @Siphiwo Siphiwo

    Dwindling on the past, while you conveniently opt not to look at what is going on at the moment, so you to would like to see all the whites killed.

    Sad place your country and your type.

  23. Mondavo_H Mondavo_H 14 March 2010

    @Ismail Motala – agreed with you 100% perhaps if the ANC stops their spending spree, they can allocate more money to give farms to previously disadvantaged.

    So that then 90% of the disadvantaged can unproductively manage the farms. In turn you can then pay higher prices for your food.

    I’m all for re-distubtion of wealth, but 90% of those farms prove they are not getting it right due to ANC corruption.


  24. Mondavo_H Mondavo_H 14 March 2010


    Lol I’m also off to Canada

    @Obzino Latino the struggle is over. It ended a long time ago, seems your still fighting it.

    you seem to forget that whites cannot get work because of BEE and AA.

    What exactly would you like us to do? Roll over and DIE!!!

    OK, please come to my house and take everything that I have worked my whole life for!

    just make sure you take over my debt as well! Debt is the reason white people have stuff. They don’t own it, the banks do.

  25. Mondavo_H Mondavo_H 14 March 2010

    @ @Siphiwo Siphiw, Eugene Terre’blanche

    Was an embarrsement to all whites, every white person knew this.

    The only thing that gave him power were a very small group of STUPID whites.

    Exactly the same situation with Malema, the only difference is that you the ONE OF THE STUPID ONES supporting him.

    Seems you have more in common with Eugene Terre’blanche following that you would like your self to realize.

    He professed murder of blacks as you would support murder of whites. You are Eugene Terre’blanche in another flavor.

  26. Mondavo_H Mondavo_H 14 March 2010

    @Reuben Maphutha

    There are victims on both sides, IE 3000 farm murders, no go count yours.

  27. Johan Meyer Johan Meyer 14 March 2010

    @Reuben Maphutha

    You may find that quite a few Afrikaners speak Sepedi. Drafting your pleas in Sepedi would lead to some extent to the advancement of Sepedi as a language, and would reduce the pressure on Afrikaans as having a special status. I encourage you, try it.

  28. Mtimande Mtimande 15 March 2010

    I’m singing the song right now and many others worse than the one everyone is complaining about but I don’t feel incited to kill boers. Struggle songs are part of history and heritage. I grew up in a home with no radio or tv and i have less than 5 photos of my childhood. I cannot say this or that song reminds me of my childhooh nor have an album full of photos,only sruggle songs reminisce that.

    Stop debating Malema, look at the real issues that make people sing those songs. It is interesting to not that most of the university students who sang heavenly the struggle song were less than 5 years in 1994 (and must have learned the song(s) at home during a free SA). This show that people are rejecting the raibow nation myth, the CODESA compromise and have realised that voting stations are not the holy grail. They want more, economic freedom. If they do not attain than more and more songs will vabrate across SA evoking what Bhambatha, Cris Hani and many heroes and heroeins fought for, total emancipation.

    Still singing….

  29. Reuben Maphutha Reuben Maphutha 15 March 2010

    @Mondavo H.
    If you examine the farmers deaths in the country you will find there are various reasons such as a thrown man in a lions den (regardless whether alive or dead) or salaried on a sack of potatoes, kicked in the bud in front of your son, called a kaffir and one day he (farm worker) decide to take law into his own hands, understandable but not legal.

    You have European descendants who shot my grandfather for resisting arbitrary expropriation of his land in 1922 and was told a kaffir cannot own fertile land before being shot in front of his wife and we decided not to approach reconciliation commision as pointless as it was. How do you give a personal duty to forgive to a man in christiaan tone and ethic. we needed justice and not christian ethic of forgiveness. measure for measure. Rest in peace Phaahla wa Mologadi.
    Do you still want to speak about dying famers Mondavo H?

  30. Mondavo_H Mondavo_H 15 March 2010

    @Reuben Maphutha

    I’m sorry to hear what happed, no doubt that it was a disgraceful thing that should never of transgressed and I understand your bitterness.

    There is not excuse for that kind of behavior and the person who pulled of the trigger should be shot!

    However people have moved on, most of us in any case. I don’t live in SA anymore, just could not stand the hatred on both sides.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right! Advocating killing people in the present day is:

    1: Not building your nation, which means that kind of thinking is part of the problem and not the solution

    2: Also the kind of thinking you profess to be correct is similar to the person who shot your grandfather.

    You cannot condone your grandfather’s killing without condoning the taking of other innocent lives.

    Rest in peace Phaahla wa Mologadi and may your grandson find the peace he deserves.

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