Shareef Blankenberg
Shareef Blankenberg

Whose struggle songs?

I would like to add my two cents’ worth about issues pertaining to the so-called “hate speech” trial of ANC Youth League President Julius Malema. The complainant, AfriForum/Solidarity, called as one of their witnesses a music academic, Anne-Marie Gray, who calls herself a “liberation struggle song expert”. Come on, does that sound right? She is a white woman with no record of ever haven been part of the struggle against apartheid. So she studied some aspects of the struggle but, to me, it would have been more credible if she had actually been there to sing these songs or, like me, grew up with struggle songs.

So they say that Juju’s singing a song containing the lyrics “dubul’ ibhunu” amounts to hate speech, as it asks for black people to kill boers. What people do not understand, is that these liberation songs are still valid in today’s society. It’s just that the meaning has changed. And all true cadres of the movement understand this. For instance, Umshini Wami would now mean something like “give me my tools to make this democracy work”. When sang by President Zuma, it inspires ANC members to do more to eradicate poverty, for instance.

I think this whole thing came about because AfriForum/Solidarity wants to make a point and now they think that Juju would be an easy target. Why don’t they take the president to court as well? For that matter why don’t they take Nelson Mandela to court also? I mean there’s ample footage of him singing Hamba Kahle MK at funerals. And here is an extract from this song with the English translation: “Hamba kahle Umkhonto weSizwe/ Thina bant’ abamnyama siz’ misele ukuwabulala wona lama bhulu.” (Rest in peace MK soldier/ We, MK soldiers, have dedicated ourselves to killing the boers.)

To me this has same words as “dubul’ ibhunu” but no one is saying anything about it. If indeed the court decides that the ANC can no longer sing “dubul’ ibhunu” they might as well ask us to take away all liberation songs and forget about asking for the preservation of our history.

If they want to take something away why don’t they ask for the banning of the song De la Rey?